Lifestyle & Belief

Psychiatry manual under fire for authors' industry ties


The revamped journal of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is under fire for its authors' ties to drug companies.


Scott Olson

A new edition of a famed psychiatry handbook is under fire for its authors' connections to drug companies.

According to professors who were in charge of reviewing the revamped Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) which will appear next year, 57 per cent of the nearly 150 authors involved in the manual had links to industry.

According to the New Scientist, for the the fifth edition, American Psychiatric Association, the manual's publisher, required authors to declare their financial ties to industry. It also limited the amount they could receive from drug companies to $10,000 a year and their stock holdings to $50,000.

“This is extremely problematic,” said Sheldon Krimsky, a bioethicist at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, to Nature. “For this type of document and its importance, there should be no conflicts of interest. The stakes are so high.”

The investigating team found that many of the authors with ties to industry wrote on illnesses whose first-line treatment tended to be prescription medications.

According to Nature, 83 per cent of the authors examining psychotic disorders and 100 per cent of those looking at sleep/wake disorders have ties to industry,

There is, however, no evidence that any of the authors acted unethically.

"Transparency alone can't mitigate bias," Lisa Cosgrove of Harvard University, who investigated the financial disclosures with Krimsky said, according to the New Scientist.

Writing in PloS Journal, the investigators warned that even if there is no evidence of wrongdoing, ties to drug companies might promote ''pro-industry habit of thought'' among authors.