Twenty drug companies are helping sponsor the 3rd World Congress of Asian Psychiatry held in Melbourne this week, as Asia becomes a lucrative growth market for the industry. Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) says Melbourne is crucial to the plan. Melbourne University provides post-graduate training for Asian psychiatrists and coordinates Asia Australia Mental Health, a group supported by the antipsychotic drug maker, Janssen. Johnson and Johnson, Janssen’s parent company is a sponsor of the Congress.
CCHR says conflicts of interest between psychiatrists and drug companies are not declared in the Congress Program. Melbourne University psychiatrist Patrick McGorry is on the organising committee and has long financial ties to Janssen and other drug makers. He was recently criticised by colleague, Dr. Allen Frances as the “pied piper of preventive psychiatry,” convincing the Australian government to fund an “untried public health experiment that will almost surely cause more harm to [Australian] children than it prevents.” McGorry champions the theory that psychosis can be predicted and treated–sometimes with antipsychotics–to prevent its onset.
Melbourne University’s Professor Graham Burrows, is on the scientific committee, despite his sacking called for over his defence of Arthur Freeman who threw his 4–year–old daughter to her death off Westgate Bridge in 2009. The Medical Board is monitoring complaints of alleged excessive drugging of patients. As chairman of the Mental Health Foundation, Burrows has accepted funding from AstraZeneca, Servier and Pfizer.
Professor Ian Hickie on the organizing committee has been criticized for his depression detection and treatment tool that Pfizer trained Australian GPs to use. The SPHERE program helped make Pfizer’s Zoloft a best–selling antidepressant. In May Pfizer “announced a new goal of increasing its Asian market share and to expand operations in China.”
U.S psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff is chairing a Congress seminar despite being investigated by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee over his failure to report $1.2 million made from drug companies. He is a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen and Merk.
CCHR’s Shelley Wilkins says, “This congress is a psycho–pharmaceutical feeding frenzy to expand the market in Asia using Australia as the launching pad. Asia should avoid Australian psychiatry which uses harmful ‘preventive’ mental health programs that hook more kids on drugs and increase profits for the psycho-pharmaceutical industry.”
CCHR was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Psychiatrist Dr Thomas Szasz.