The pharmaceutical industry turns to censorship to try to suppress critics.

by David Oaks, MindFreedom Director

I hope everyone is reading about how Eli Lilly is trying to squash and suppress information concerning how they fraudulently and dangerously marketed and sold their psychiatric drug Zyprexa.  The story is now on our home page. 

But here’s another example of the pharmaceutical industry distorting and censoring. The drug industry funds a nonprofit group called Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), and they have a blog called “DrugWonks.” When I was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Jim Gottstein was quoted in the NY Times in 2006 we both saw ourselves featured on the DrugWonks blog by one of CMPI’s key leaders, Robert Goldberg.

Mr. Goldberg tried to attack the character of Jim and me through defamation, by claiming we were in “coalition” with the religious group Scientology (which has a significant anti-psychiatry group called Citizens Commission for Human Rights or CCHR).

Mr. Goldberg’s “evidence” of his imaginary “coalition”? That MindFreedom’s old web site — which had hundreds of links to a variety of groups, including industry groups — included a link to a CCHR web site. And that Jim had once signed a petition by activist/author Paula Caplan that had been signed by dozens of others apparently including a CCHR activist. This “evidence” is reminiscent of the way anyone speaking out for minimum wage or the eight-hour day in the 1930’s would be told they must be under the control of Moscow.

So does Mr. Goldberg claim everyone who has ever linked to a CCHR web site or signed the same petition is in “coalition” with them?

Of course, Jim, his group PsychRights, myself, and the group I direct MindFreedom are totally independent with zero links with or funding from CCHR. This is not to criticize CCHR here, but to just say the truth: We are our own groups. In fact we are some of the few totally independent groups in the mental health field. MindFreedom’s policy is similar to Amnesty International: No funding from or links to government, corporations or religions. This independence is rare in the mental health arena, and we’re proud of it.

And wouldn’t you know it… Paula Caplan uncovered a piece of information that is apparently not disclosed on the web sites of CMPI and their blog DrugWonks. It turns out CMPI and DrugWonks receive significant funding from the pharmaceutical industry according to the group CPTECH, or as they put it in a blog entry about CMPI co-founder Peter Pitts: “Peter co-founded and currently works full time for the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), a group that is funded by major pharmaceutical companies.”

Let me get this right: A front group for the pharmaceutical industry that truly is in coalition with (in the sense that it is funded by) that pharamaceutical industry obscures its own funding sources… then defames two independent critics of that pharmaceutical industry… by making up an imaginary “coalition” based on no tangible evidence.

Wait, there’s more. When Paula and I posted comments to the DrugWonks blog to defend our reputations and independence, at first CMPI blocked my comment, then they posted our comments, and now all comments in our defense are off the DrugWonks blog again. Some of our comments are still available through the Google cache. I am seeing a pattern here of pharmaceutical funding trying to suppress and censor information critical to it.

CMPI, DrugWonks, Robert Goldberg, Peter Pitts and their pharmaceutical industry funders are continuing a rich corporate tradition.  As the Union of Concerned Scientists recently pointed out:

“Scientists’ Report Documents ExxonMobil’s Tobacco-like Disinformation Campaign on Global Warming Science

“WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 3-A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists offers the most comprehensive documentation to date of how ExxonMobil has adopted the tobacco industry’s disinformation tactics, as well as some of the same organizations and personnel, to cloud the scientific understanding of climate change and delay action on the issue. According to the report, ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science…..”

One wonders if the pharmaceutical industry will ever be rich enough to fund a pill that provides a clean conscience?

Meanwhile, those who wish to read MindFreedom’s public statement about independence — including from Scientology and CCHR — see our MindFreedom Frequently Asked Questions.

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