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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 48 (2006) 2, 119 - 129

Essay

Bitter and gilded pills: psychiatry in the light (or shadow) of the pharmaceutical industry

W. Vandereycken

Psychotropic medication has brought about far-reaching changes in psychiatry: in its nature and practice, its image of man and its public image. Never before have so many psychotropic drugs been prescribed for young people. 'Difficult' children are now referred to as adhd children and moody youngsters are given antidepressants. In adult psychiatry treatment is being dictated more and more by protocols and guidelines: very often medication is the treatment of choice. The reasons for this are largely economic. Increasingly 'research' is being sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. Published research results are often skewed so as to favour the sponsor. Some scientific journals owe their survival to drug advertisements. Even some patient organisations are supported by the pharmaceutical industry. How will psychiatry and mental health care be able to escape from this 'straightjacket' in the future? The purpose of this polemical essay is to draw the attention of health care professionals and researchers to this rather worrying development.

keywords conflict of interest, drug industry, psychiatry, media influence, medicalisation