On June 19, 2015, I published a post titled Allen Frances’ Ties to Johnson & Johnson. In that post, I set out some very serious allegations against Dr. Frances. I drew these allegations from a document titled Special Witness Report dated October 15, 2010. The report was written by David Rothman, PhD, Professor of Social Medicine at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Dr. Rothman’s report was produced in the context of a lawsuit filed by the State of Texas against Janssen Pharmaceutica, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.
The allegations against Dr. Frances and two other psychiatrists, John Docherty, MD, and David Kahn, MD, arise from their production of an expert consensus schizophrenia treatment guidelines document. The essential allegation is that Dr. Frances and his two partners violated, to a marked extent, the ordinary standards regarding conflicts of interest in the preparation and publicizing of the guidelines.
I quoted some passages from Dr. Rothman’s article, perhaps the most telling of which is the following:
“EKS [i.e., Drs. Frances, Docherty, and Kahn] wrote to Janssen on July 3, 1996 that it was pleased to respond to its request to ‘develop an information solution that will facilitate the implementation of expert guidelines.’…It assured the company: ‘We are also committed to helping Janssen succeed in its effort to increase its market share and visibility in the payor, provider, and consumer communities.’” [Emphasis added]
Paula Caplan, PhD, a clinical and research psychologist, and an Associate at Harvard’s DuBois Institute, had written an earlier article on this topic in Aporia. Dr. Caplan had titled her article Diagnosisgate: Conflict of Interest at the Top of the Psychiatric Apparatus, and on March 6, 2015, Dr. Frances had published a very weak and ineffective rebuttal titled ‘Diagnosisgate’ Deconstructed and Debunked
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Last Sunday, June 21, 2015, Dr. Frances tweeted to me: “Setting the record straight on careless claims” with a link to his earlier rebuttal.
So, to set the record straight:
Dr. Frances’s rebuttal did not address a single issue from the David Rothman report, and his tweeted claim that the rebuttal set the record straight is nothing short of fanciful.
In my article, I challenged Dr. Frances to respond to two questions:
- Are the allegations against him and his EKS partners that are set out in detail in the David Rothman report accurate?
- Are the quotations in that report that are attributed to Dr. Frances accurate?
This challenge still stands.
The allegations against Dr. Frances are extremely serious, and in my view, comparable misconduct in reputable professions would result in censure, or even expulsion. But with very few exceptions, the silence from psychiatry on this issue has been deafening, even though the David Rothman report has been in the public arena for almost five years.
At the present time Dr. Frances is presenting himself as the champion of moderation, and he routinely lays the blame for the overuse of psychiatric drugs on pharma marketing and on general practitioners. But he has never, to the best of my knowledge, acknowledged that in the preparation and dissemination of the Tri-University Guidelines, he and his partners formed what they described as a “strategic partnership” with Janssen, and expressed a firm commitment to “helping Janssen succeed in its effort to increase its market share…” And to guard against any misunderstandings, the issue here is not that Dr. Frances helped Janssen increase its market share. The issue is that he did this in the guise of producing an objective treatment guidelines document.
Why aren’t psychiatrists screaming in protest? Where is the outrage and censure? Is psychiatry truly so intellectually and morally bankrupt that they will turn a blind eye to virtually anything, provided it expands psychiatric turf?