In the wake of GlaxoSmithKline’s record-breaking $3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, a number of psychiatrists and researchers have redoubled their efforts to get Paxil study 329 retracted. As mentioned here and in other news accounts, the federal prosecutors who won the recent settlement concluded that study 329 constituted scientific fraud, as I and many others had previously argued. Yet nothing has been done to retract this dangerously misleading study or penalize the academicians who co-authored it — see here.
Given such shocking indifference to scientific ethics, psychiatrist Mickey Nardo, the author of 1boringoldman, has devoted at least eight blogs in the last week to dissecting study 329 again — the latest is here. Not only was the study ghostwritten by a medical contractor for GlaxoSmithKline but, as 1boringoldman notes, the co-authors didn’t do much of the science themselves. As he says, the authors:
farmed out the science to others who had a very specific agenda, selling Paxil to sick kids… They didn’t do the science [or even much see it until it was done].
Nardo concludes that, as I did in Side Effects four years ago, that study 329 was “misguided science, deceitfully written, and reaches an unsupportable conclusion.”
For all these reasons, Dr. Jon Jureidini and Leemon McHenry, who have written papers debunking the study (see here), are writing yet another letter to Brown University’s current president Christine H. Paxson asking her to take action against the principal investigator of study 329, Dr. Martin Keller, who is still a full professor at Brown’s School of Medicine and receives substantial grant money from the NIH. (Keller’s work for the drug industry and his role in helping GlaxoSmithKline publish study 329 is chronicled in Side Effects). Paxson told the Chronicle of Higher Education in August that she didn’t see any reason to take further action against Keller or pressure the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to retract study 329. None of Keller’s co-authors appear to have penalized for their part in the study either.
In recent days, however, the calls for action seem to be getting louder. In his Health Care Renewal blog, Dr. Roy Poses, a Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown, takes the university’s administrators to task for stonewalling on study 329. As he says:
…the appearance of continued stonewalling, now going on for years, can easily be interpreted to imply that the institution has something really big and bad to hide.