We have been having a pretty good discussion here on the role of the government vs. the private market in bringing about much needed change in the fields of energy, education, health care, infrastructure. Even in the five years I’ve been associated with a major research university like USC, I have seen a disturbing change in the role of the private corporation in funding research. Yesterday Senator Charles Grassley revealed the basic problem with this new dependence on the corporation–the conflict of interest.
A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials, according to information given Congressional investigators.
As has been pointed out by some of our contributors the increased tranquilizing of young children in school has led to a 40-fold increase in the prescription of anti-psychotic drugs for children in 10 years.
Doctors have known for years that antipsychotic drugs, sometimes called major tranquilizers, can quickly subdue children. But youngsters appear to be especially susceptible to the weight gain and metabolic problems caused by the drugs, and it is far from clear that the medications improve children’s lives over time, experts say.
In the last 25 years, drug and device makers have displaced the federal government as the primary source of research financing, and industry support is vital to many university research programs. But as corporate research executives recruit the brightest scientists, their brethren in marketing departments have discovered that some of these same scientists can be terrific pitchmen.
Our Libertarian cohort believes this is all well and good–the invisible hand of the marketplace delivering just the right solution to these kids.