In response to increasing public distrust and congressional concerns regarding pharmaceutical company influence on medical research and education, professional organizations have taken steps to phase out or regulate industry-sponsored educational support. A related problem is industry funding of philanthropic organizations, such as patient advocacy groups. Thus, when the office of Sen Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) recently reported that the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill received substantial pharmaceutical funding, there was concern among the membership’s psychiatric patients and their families.
A recent letter to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) from Sen Chuck Grassley about the APA’s financial relationship with pharmaceutical companies raises concerns about undue industry influence.1 By instituting a disclosure policy for DSM-V, the APA took a halting first step in restoring public trust in the most influential text on psychiatric taxonomy in the world. Unfortunately, the APA’s efforts at creating a conflict of interest (COI) policy have failed to ensure that the process for revising diagnostic and therapeutic guidelines is one that the public can trust. The need for more safeguards was evidenced when the APA reported that of the 27 task force members of DSM-V, only 8 reported no industry relationships.2 The fact that 70% of the task force members have reported direct industry ties—an increase of almost 14% over the percentage of DSM-IV task force members who had industy ties—shows that disclosure policies alone, especially those that rely on an honor system, are not enough and that more specific safeguards are needed.