The National Institute of Health (NIH) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary U.S. Government agency responsible for medical research.
The NIH has 27 sub-departments, one of which is the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The NIMH has an annual budget of $1.5 billion, which they use to support research through grants and in-house work.
Several years ago the NIMH approved a $35 million grant for the STAR*D study (Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression). The study was conducted “…to determine the effectiveness of different treatments for people with major depression who have not responded to initial treatment with an antidepressant.” This was to be the largest and longest study ever conducted to evaluate depression treatment, the results of which are now available.
Now readers of this blog know that depression is not an illness, and research into the “treatment” of depression within a medical context is analogous to studying atmospheric currents in the depths of a coal mine. But even leaving that aside, it is clear that the STAR*D project is methodologically flawed.
Here’s what Ed Pigott, PhD has to say:
“In my five plus years investigating STAR*D, I have identified one scientific error after another. ….But all of these errors – without exception had the effect of making the effectiveness of the antidepressant drugs look better than they actually were, and together these errors led to published reports that totally misled readers about the actual results.
As such, this is a story of scientific fraud, with this fraud funded by the National Institute of Mental Health at a cost of $35 million.”
You can read Ed’s entire article here.
As has been stated many times in this blog, medical research has been hijacked by pharmaceutical companies, particularly in the mental health area, so the corruption of the STAR*D should come as no surprise. But it is sad to see the NIMH fall victim to pharmaceutical rapacity.
Ed Pigott provides a very detailed and informative critique of STAR*D, and I strongly encourage you to go to the link above and read his article. If you feel outraged at this misuse of public money, write to your political representatives to voice your concern.
The great tragedy here is that the importance of keeping up to date on current research is very strongly stressed in medical colleges worldwide. Doctors peruse journals. Hospitals buy journals for their in-house libraries. Journal articles are an integral part of a doctor’s ongoing training. And they have been hijacked by pharmaceutical companies!
Next post: More on Hijacking