“In Alexandria, Va., the rate of antidepressant use is the highest in the country, with a full 40 percent of residents receiving prescriptions.”

Antidepressants and antipsychotics are having a field day in America, and one can only gaze at the above statistic in admiration at the marketing techniques that have gotten pharma this far. Down the street from UD‘s ‘thesda, it won’t be long before fully half of the population has convinced itself it needs to take powerful pills, with powerful side effects, to get through life.

Given the exact same demographics here in ‘thesda (wealthy well-educated DC suburb), can UD’s neighborhood be far behind?

And what have universities to do with this?

Well, there are powerful pharma-sponsored incentives for universities to do quick sloppy work toward generating more and more pills for this amazing growth market. Their research subjects are human beings – often very vulnerable human beings – who need protection from the frightening implications of this situation.

One person who reportedly did not receive those protections was Dan Markingson, who in 2004 committed suicide while enrolled in a University of Minnesota psychiatric drug study. The details of the case are here; a much shorter summary appears as preamble to an online petition asking that a serious inquiry into research ethics at Minnesota be initiated. This seems to me a reasonable idea, and I’ve happily signed the petition.

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4 Responses to “Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You.”

  1. Alan Allport Says:

    “For all three classes of medications, use rates were higher in areas with better access to health care, as measured by the number of physicians in a three-digit zip code area. More surprisingly, the study found that in regions of the country where pharmaceutical companies spent the most money marketing drugs, the utilization rate of psychotropic medications was at least 10 percent higher than in areas with the lowest marketing expenditures.”

    OK, why is this in the slightest way surprising?

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Alan: Right – it is in no way surprising. It’s more in the way of an historical inevitability.

  3. Jack/OH Says:

    There are institutions, professions, vocations that we ought to be reasonably wary of as circumstances warrant. Oh, say, nuclear physicists and rocket scientists after WWII. Real estate developers in the New World circa 1650, 1750, 1850 . . . .

    My personal feeling is that America’s Big Medicine of today is one such institution.

  4. University Diaries » Will no one rid us of this meddlesome priesthood? Says:

    [...] King Henry might have said if he’d been around today to watch the entire nation go the way of Alexandra, Virginia, where forty percent of the population is currently on antidepressants. Who told so many people that, whatever they were experiencing, they [...]

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