4/15/2001 – Prozac critic sees U of T job revoked

This article makes it very clear what unethical tactics Lilly and other
pharmaceutical companies use regularly. With Lilly being the major
contributor to this university it should be obvious who pulls the strings in
this situation.

Who is pulling the strings at your alma mater? Drug companies have tied up
about every university in this country and around the world to gain control
over the disinformation coming out of those universities in the form of
“medical studies.” Yes, those same studies we just learned are being
“ghostwritten” by pharmaceutical companies and then pawned off to the public
as the “gospel truth” or “credible scientific evidence.”

You see they need that control over the studies so that they can make
statements like this: “There is no credible scientific evidence that
establishes a causal link between Prozac [fluoxetine hydrochloride] and
violent or suicidal behavior.”

Dr. David Healy is perhaps their greatest threat when it comes to the SSRIs.
I am sure that part of their motive was a hope that this move might become a
“black mark” on his resume that they could use against him in court to
discredit him. I know all too well that they will twist everything they can
to discredit those who have the courage to stand up for the truth against
them. And, Dr. Healy does that well.

I don’t know why they would not want anyone to hear what Dr. Healy is saying
about Prozac, such as: “the data show that Prozac and other popular
antidepressants in the same chemical family may have been responsible for one
suicide for every day they have been on the market.”

If I were the CEO of Lilly I would be thinking, “Wow! That would be a VERY
LARGE number of lawsuits to have to settle.” Now I can’t imagine what has
made them so upset as to ruin Dr. Healy’s new position, can you?

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition For Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org

http://www.globeandmail.com/

Saturday, April 14

Prozac critic sees U of T job revoked

By ANNE McILROY
From Saturday’s Globe and Mail

A world-renowned scientist saw a job offer at the University of Toronto
evaporate after warning that the popular antidepressant Prozac may trigger
suicide in some patients.

The drug’s manufacturer, Eli Lilly, is an important private donor to a
mental-health research institute affiliated with the university.

Critics say it appears that David Healy’s job offer was rescinded to avoid
offending the corporate giant or for fear of compromising future fundraising
efforts.

Eli Lilly said it had no role in the matter. The university said the decision
not to hire Dr. Healy was made by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health,
an affiliated teaching hospital, and that it would not be proper for the
university to question it. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, for
its part, steadfastly denies that it has allowed fundraising concerns to
interfere with academic freedom.

“If you are asking me if his comments influenced our decision, let me be
clear that there were a number of factors involved. We regret that our
actions have been misinterpreted as an attack against academic freedom and as
a conflict of interest,” said Paul Garfinkel, chief executive officer of the
CAMH.

Dr. Garfinkel said the reasons for the decision to revoke Dr. Healy’s job
offer are confidential. “Let me be clear, we’ve never made an offer or
withdrawn an offer on the basis of an impact on an outside donor.”

When initially approached by The Globe and Mail several months ago, Dr.
Healy, who works at the University of Wales, was reluctant to speak publicly
about what happened.

He said he decided to do so to publicize his concerns about Prozac and to
raise questions about the appearance of a conflict of interest at U of T.

“I’ve had people call from a number of countries asking whether it is safe to
say something [critical] about pharmaceutical companies. The public needs to
know what happened here,” he said in an interview.

Dr. Healy said that he made his views clear in private interviews with
university officials before the speech.

University of Toronto colleagues are providing a public platform for him to
express his views on Prozac next week. He will give a lecture at the Joint
Centre for Bioethics on Thursday evening.

U of T and CAMH had been courting Dr. Healy since July of 1999. They made him
a formal written offer of a combined faculty and clinical position in May of
2000, followed by a more detailed letter in August.
They hired a lawyer to help him immigrate.

Then, on Nov. 30, 2000, Dr. Healy gave a wide-ranging lecture at CAMH, part
of a colloquium titled Looking Back, Looking Ahead — Psychiatry in the 21st
Century: Mental Health and Addiction.

He criticized pharmaceutical companies for avoiding experiments that could
demonstrate problems with their drugs, and for not publishing unfavourable
results. He said the data show that Prozac and other popular antidepressants
in the same chemical family may have been responsible for one suicide for
every day they have been on the market.

A week later, Dr. David Goldbloom, physician-in-chief at CAMH and a professor
at U of T, rescinded the offer to Dr. Healy in an e-mail, a copy of which was
sent to The Globe and Mail in an unmarked brown envelope.

Dr. Goldbloom told Dr. Healy his lecture was evidence that his approach was
not “compatible” with development goals. Development, in the university
context, is widely understood to mean fundraising, although CAMH denies that
fundraising was what was meant.

Eli Lilly, the drug company that manufactures Prozac, is its “lead” donor
according to the CAMH Web site, contributing more than $1-million to the
centre’s $10-million capital-fundraising campaign.

Last year, Eli Lilly cancelled its $25,000 (U.S.) annual donation to the
Hastings Center in New York, a think tank that looks at ethical issues, after
it published a series of articles about Prozac, including a critical one by
Dr. Healy titled Good Science or Good Business.

“The centre had published articles that Lilly felt contained information that
was biased and scientifically unfounded and that may have led to significant
misinformation to readers, patients and the community,” said Laurel Swartz,
manager of corporate communications for Eli Lilly.

Two U of T professors, who have asked that their names not be published, said
that what happened to Dr. Healy in Canada raises disturbing questions about
whether professors are free to be critical of drug companies in an era where
medical schools are heavily dependent on them for financing.

James Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University
Teachers, said the paper trail appears to make it clear why Dr. Healy was no
longer welcome at U of T.

“The language they use indicates they feel they can’t hire this guy because
it will give them trouble raising money,” Mr. Turk said.

Experts such as Bob Michels, the former head of medicine at Cornell
University in New York, say Dr. Healy is internationally renowned, both as a
clinical psychopharmacologist and a historian of the role of drugs in modern
psychiatry.

He is also well-known for his outspoken criticism of Prozac and other similar
drugs and has appeared as an expert witness on behalf of families suing Eli
Lilly and other drug companies.

Dr. Healy says the data show Prozac and related medications, which are widely
prescribed for people who in the past would not be deemed sick enough to
require medication, can cause patients with no history of mental illness to
fall into a state of extreme agitation anxiety. In some cases it can lead to
suicide, or thoughts of suicide.

Last year, Dr. Healy published a study that found that two healthy volunteers
out of 20 who were given Prozac reported feeling extremely anxious and that
they entertained thoughts of suicide.

Eli Lilly says Prozac is safe. “There is no credible scientific evidence that
establishes a causal link between Prozac [fluoxetine hydrochloride] and
violent or suicidal behaviour,” Ms. Swartz said.

Dr. Healy insists warning labels are needed on Prozac so doctors will know to
watch for suicidal tendencies when they prescribe the antidepressant.

His speech did not go over well at U of T. Dr. Healy said Dr. Goldbloom
appeared unhappy when they discussed the lecture at a dinner that evening.

Dr. Healy said he understood Dr. Goldbloom to be critical of his speech
because people would take away from it the understanding that Prozac makes
people suicidal and the Eli Lilly knew about the problem but wouldn’t
acknowledge it.

Dr. Healy left that weekend for New York, where he was scheduled to give the
same speech at Cornell University.

On the Monday after the Thursday speech, Dr. Goldbloom began sending Dr.
Healy e-mails saying it was urgent they find a time to talk by telephone. Dr.
Healy kept copies of them, and has provided them to The Globe and Mail.

When the two men couldn’t arrange the phone call, Dr. Goldbloom sent the
e-mail rescinding the job offer on behalf of both CAMH and U of T.

“Essentially, we believe that it is not a good fit between you and the role
of leader of an academic program in mood and anxiety disorders at the Centre
and in relation to the University. This view was solidified by your recent
appearance at the Centre in the context of an academic lecture,” the message
said.

“While you are held in high regard as a scholar of the history of modern
psychiatry, we do not feel your approach is compatible with the goals for
development of the academic and clinical resource that we have.”

Dr. Goldbloom would not be interviewed for this story. Dr. Garfinkel said he
didn’t know what Dr. Goldbloom had said to Dr. Healy in person after the
speech. But he categorically denied that when Dr. Goldbloom referred to the
development of the centre he was referring in any way to the ability to raise
funds, either from Eli Lilly or other drug companies.

“Development is a technical term that many places use to talk about
fundraising. This is development of a program, totally different meaning,”
Dr. Garfinkel said.

He said the meeting where senior managers from U of T and CAMH made the
decision to rescind the job offer was on Dec. 8. Yet Dr. Goldbloom sent the
e-mail on Dec. 7, and began requesting an interview by phone several days
before that.

Dr. Healy didn’t quit his job in Wales and said he is not planning legal
action. He said he has asked for a more detailed explanation about why the
job offer was rescinded, but none was given. He said he would like to hear
from Dr. Garfinkel about the confidential reasons the job offer was revoked.

“Nobody has offered me any other reasons at all. I don’t believe there are
any other reasons. We have the paper trail, and what I am asking them to
explain is the paper trail. Maybe there is an explanation that will let them
off the hook, but if there is, maybe they could try explaining it to me.”

He certainly never imagined that his speech, which contained nothing he
hasn’t said before, would cost him the job.

In fact, Dr. Michels said the same speech did not cause problems at Cornell.

“He certainly has many people who sharply differ with him. That’s not unusual
in science. He has points of view that other people don’t agree with. He has
certainly been very open and expressive about his points of view. The
material is an area where there is great controversy, and he takes positions
in that controversy, but they are well within the dialogue in his field.”

This is the second controversy of its kind at the university. Researcher
Nancy Olivieri faced an ugly internal battle and a lawsuit in when she
published data unfavourable to the drug company that funded her work.

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