Monday, May 17, 2004

Ethical Questions at NIH

A while ago, I posted several articles on the safety and effectiveness of antidepressant medication.  On of the posts provoked an e-mail from Alex, the author of the Pseudoscience in Psych  blog.  Although he is an outspoken critic of certain aspects of psychopharmacology, he is well-informed and well-meaning.  part of his message to me was:

I'll believe that antidepressants work better than placebos when I see
large-scale, rigorously designed, independently conducted (i.e., not
financed by Big Pharma) studies where an active placebo is used and where
the double-blind conditions are tested and not simply taken for granted.

I have gotten distracted by other things, but I always meant to write up an explanation of why his objections are so important, and what is being done about them.  To this end, I started to look into the Star*D (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression) research program.  Star*D is a large, multicenter research program that is funded by NIH.  A synopsis is located on the University of Michigan Health System Depression Center page (here, scroll down).  For more information, go to PubMed and search for "Star-D".  SInce the program is funded by NIH, I thought that it might answer at least one of Alex's concerns. 

Unfortunately, there are complications.  I decided to look into the state of things at NIH.  This   article is about the complications at NIH.  I conclude with some comments of my own. 

See the rest at The Rest of the Story, here.