The medical profession has not been without its scandals either. There is evidence that a significant section of academic psychiatry, internationally, has been corrupted by its links with the pharmaceutical industry.
The development of second-generation antipsychotics, heralded as one of the great achievements of psychopharmacology, made huge profits for the companies producing them. Long after their introduction in the 1990s, patients and relatives were told about their safety and efficacy. There was talk about a “breakthrough” in treating schizophrenia.
We now know that these drugs are no less toxic than earlier ones and there is no evidence that they are more effective. In a recent editorial in the Lancet, two senior figures in British psychiatry wrote: “Second-generation drugs ... are no more efficacious, do not improve specific symptoms, have no clearly different side-effect profiles than the first-generation antipsychotics and are less cost-effective.
“The spurious invention of the atypicals can now be regarded as invention only ... But how is it that for nearly two decades we have, as some have put it, ‘been beguiled’ into thinking they were superior?”
Antipsychotics are probably the drugs most often administered to patients in dentention. But the science of these drugs is a mess and psychiatry stands accused of being “beguiled” into using and promoting them through its links with the pharmaceutical industry.