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The FDA Guerillas of Wonky DrugWonks - Part I

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opednews.com Headlined to H2 8/5/08

Attorneys are regularly attacked, but only those who defend the little guy against the drug giants. Those who represent industry clients receive the highest praise. The same goes for expert witnesses. An medial expert who consults with attorneys for a plaintiff is referred to as "a gun for hire." Those on the other side have only the best of intentions.

Mr Pitts and Mr Goldberg demonstrate a special “fondness” for all consumer advocacy groups and public health activists who criticize the FDA or pharmaceutical industry. They are referred to collectively with titles like "whack jobs," or "conflict of interest capos," or "Luddites," whatever that means.

They attacked four medical journals in one whack in a December 10, 2005, blog on DrugWonks. "Too many people are now not taking important medicines for pain, depression and other illnesses because the NEJM, JAMA, The Lancet and the British Medical Journal have allowed their political love fest with the leftists in the media and their hatred of drug companies to pollute their ability to remain objective," the blog said.

In June 2008, Mr Pitts and Mr Goldberg double-teamed Senator Charles Grassley (R Iowa), and reporter, Gardiner Harris, for three days when the New York Times reported on the investigation by the Senate Finance Committee into the nondisclosure of millions of dollars received by Harvard academics Joseph Biederman, Timothy Wilens and Thomas Spencer from drug companies.

Mr Pitts was especially incensed over the Mr Harris’ acknowledgment of Dr Biederman as: “A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children.”

"How did a phrase like "fuel an explosion" make it past an editor?" he demanded to know in a June 9, 2008 blog. "This is journalism?" he asked.

“The McCarthyite Mugging of Joe Biederman,” was the June 8, 2008 headline on DrugWonks, where Mr Goldberg refers to the investigation as the, “Grassley witch-hunt,” and credits the Times’ story in large part to, “Charles Grassley’s McCarthyite machine.”

There are other agendas at play here, Mr Pitts claimed on June 9, 2008. "When it comes to Conflicts of Interest," he says, "its COI polloi."

"The not-so-hidden agenda," he explains, "is that anyone who supports the use of psychiatric pharmaceuticals for any reason needs to be humiliated and destroyed."

Mr Goldberg says the non-disclosures amount to nothing more than “bad bookkeeping” or a “bookkeeping problem.” His theory might hold water if not for the fact that the problem continued for 7 years before Senator Grassley caught the glitch. The investigation of money paid to academic included about 30 psychiatrists at 20 universities, at last count.

Conflicted DrugWonker exposed

Its seems Mr Pitts himself does always disclose that he’s sleeping with the devil. However, bloggers on Pharmalot, and other popular websites, made his bed partners widely known after a conflict of interest scandal erupted over his appearance on the radio show, “Prozac Nation: Revisited,” aired on “The Infinite Mind,” and broadcast by National Public Radio on March 26, 2008.

CMPI board member, Dr Fred Goodman, hosted the show and told the audience: "There is no credible scientific evidence linking antidepressants to suicide or violence."

On May 6, 2008, Ed Silverman’s Pharmalot headline read: “NPR: On The Air, But Not In The Open,” for a report on, “Stealth Marketers,” by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, in Slate Magazine with the byline: “Are doctors shilling for drug companies on public radio?” In describing the SSRI discussion on “Prozac Nation,” the authors noted:

“The segment featured four prestigious medical experts discussing the controversial link between antidepressants and suicide. In their considered opinions, all four said that worries about the drugs have been overblown.”

Not mentioned, Slate says, was the fact that all four experts had financial ties to the antidepressant makers. Mr Pitts was identified only as "a former FDA official.” “Also unmentioned were the "unrestricted grants" that The Infinite Mind has received from drug makers, including Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of the antidepressant Prozac,” Slate wrote.

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

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