Citizens Committee on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

Full Transparency of Conflicts of Interest Needed at Youth Mental Health Conference

While British experts condemn “Psychosis Risk” labelling of youths as dangerous

Pill with Dollar Sign on Pale Blue BackgroundMental Health watchdog Citizens Committee on Human Rights called for policy changes in Australia to ensure transparency of drug-company ties to speakers at psychiatric conferences. The call was in response to an international Youth Mental Health Conference being held in Melbourne this week, which fails to disclose this information and yet could be used to advocate a dangerous diagnosis and drug treatment.

Convened by Prof. Patrick McGorry, the conference starts while British experts have condemned a “disorder” championed by McGorry, “Psychosis Risk Syndrome” that could dramatically increase the number of youths being prescribed dangerous antipsychotics. McGorry has received substantial funds from makers of antipsychotics for his studies.

PRS singles out people believed to be at risk of developing a psychotic disorder and drugs them in advance, a practice that both American and now British psychiatrists have condemned as dangerous. “Many people previously seen as perfectly healthy could in future be told they are ill,” according to a UK Reuters newswire July 27. Doctors said PRS was “particularly worrying.” “It’s a bit like telling 10 people with a common cold that they are ‘at risk for pneumonia syndrome’ when only one is likely to get the disorder,” Til Wykes of the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College London stated. At least seven of the speakers at the youth mental health conference have received funds/support from pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly, Janssen-Cilag, AstraZenecca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis and Pfizer.

Australian youths are already at risk of zealous antipsychotic and antidepressant prescribing trends that made the industry $6.6 million in sales in 2008. At least 19 deaths in under-19 year olds taking these drugs have been reported to federal authorities.

Federal authorities warn that antipsychotics can cause involuntary movements, rigidity, convulsions, and life-threatening diabetes and abnormal heart beats.

Australian psychiatrist Dr. Niall McLaren says PRS “has no scientific validity whatsoever” and will put “large numbers of teenagers and young adults under the long-term supervision and control of psychiatrists.” That “supervision” includes the “aggressive, indefinite prescription of antipsychotic drugs.”

Contact Dr. McLaren via email, or Shelley Wilkins at CCHR on 02 9964-9844.

CCHR was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor of Psychiatry Thomas Szasz to expose psychiatric violations of human rights.