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Harvard Professors Studying Bipolar Disease Accepted Payments From Drug Companies

Congressional investigators revealed that three prominent Harvard University professors did not report millions of dollars paid to them by drug companies. Many of their studies concluded that children with bipolar disorder should be treated aggressively with antipsychotic drugs.

Partly because of their studies, the number of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder increased 40 times between 1994 and 2003. Previously, bipolar disorder, a disease characterized by mood swings of mania and depression, was believed to appear in late adolescence, not childhood. Last year, 500,000 children and teenagers took antipsychotic drugs.

Drs. Joseph Biederman, Timothy Wilens, and Thomas Spencer did not report earnings of over $4 million from drug companies such as Johnson & Johnson, according to Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, who is leading the investigation. Sen. Grassley said he only had records from 2000 to 2007.

"It has really been an honor system," said Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of the Yale School of Medicine. Professors are supposed to report compensation, but no one really checks them.

Drug and medical device companies are the chief source of university research funding.

The use of antipsychotic drugs on children is controversial because children are more susceptible to metabolic problems that the drugs can cause. It is also unclear what the long-term effects of the drugs are because they have not been widely used in pediatric medicine.

Labels: studies, bipolar_disorder

Posted By: Aspen Education Group