Drug Firms, the Codification of Diagnostic Categories, and Bias in Clinical Guidelines

27 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2013 Last revised: 1 Oct 2014

Lisa Cosgrove

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Emily Wheeler

University of Massachusetts Boston

Date Written: June 28, 2013

Abstract

The profession of medicine is predicated upon an ethical mandate: first do no harm. However, critics charge that the medical profession’s culture and its public health mission are being undermined by the pharmaceutical industry’s wide-ranging influence. In this article, we analyze how drug firms influence psychiatric taxonomy and treatment guidelines such that these resources may serve commercial rather than public health interests. Moving beyond a conflict-of-interest model, we use the conceptual and normative framework of institutional corruption to examine how organized psychiatry’s dependence on drug firms has distorted science. We suggest that academic-industry relationships have led to the corruption of the evidence base upon which accurate diagnosis and sound treatment depend. We describe the current dependency corruption and argue that transparency alone is not a solution – and sometimes even produces iatrogenic effects. Furthermore, we argue that the corruption of the evidence base for diagnostic and practice guidelines renders obsolete the traditional informed consent process, and we offer suggestions for reforming this process.

Suggested Citation

Cosgrove, Lisa and Wheeler, Emily, Drug Firms, the Codification of Diagnostic Categories, and Bias in Clinical Guidelines (June 28, 2013). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2286724

Lisa Cosgrove (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Emily Wheeler

University of Massachusetts Boston ( email )

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