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According to court documents, an influential child psychiatrist at Harvard University, told drug maker Johnson & Johnson that planned studies of its medications in children would produce results that would benefit the company. The psychiatrist outlined his plans to test the company’s drugs in presentations made to Johnson & Johnson’s executives. One slide referred to a plan to conduct a trial of risperidone, an antipsychotic drug, on preschool children. He allegedly claimed he would support the safety of this drug on the age group.

The doctor was the director of the Johnson & Johnson Center for Pediatric Psychopathology Research at Massachusetts General Hospital. He reportedly is one of the world’s most prominent advocates for diagnosing bipolar disorder in young children and using antipsychotic medication to treat this disease. He was the lead author of a trial published last year, which concluded treating a patient with risperidone improved the symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in bipolar children. A research scholar at a bioethics research institute raised questions, however, regarding how well-designed the doctor’s trials were because of the alleged promise of a positive result to his funders.

Because of his association with Harvard University, the psychiatrist also faces claims of a conflict of interest in medicine, along with the claims he should not prescribe antipsychotic medication to children. The doctor has become a key witness in numerous lawsuits claiming the makers of antipsychotic drugs defrauded state Medicaid programs when they improperly marketed their products. As demonstrated through e-mails and internal documents presented in court, the doctor’s work allegedly helped to increase the sales of these medications for children.

Much of the psychiatrist’s work, however, was supported by the drug makers for whom he privately consults. From 2000 to 2007, he reportedly earned $1.6 million in consulting fees from these drug makers and allegedly failed to report all but $200,000 of it to Harvard University officials. Harvard and the National Institute of Health are now investigating whether this violates federal and university research rules. A New Jersey Superior Court judge, who is overseeing the multistate litigation, ruled that the doctor should be deposed. This has reportedly provoked him to suspend working with the drug industry during the investigation.

If the above allegations are true as reported, this is astounding. The drug companies have gotten to the researchers, governmental officials, governmental bureaucrats, governmental agencies, and on and on. Profits at all costs, and by all means, must end.

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