Monday, February 13, 2012

ABC radio show guides listeners to deceptive info, at respected medical journal

Below is a link to yesterday's radio story at the ABC Radio National's The World Today, about Prof Ian Hickie, conflicts between Australian mental health professinals re the federal govt mental health reforms, and conflict over Hickie's journal paper in The Lancet about the new anti-depressant drug Agomelatine, produced by Servier:

Psychiatrist claims campaign to discredit him. The World Today. ABC Radio National February 13th 2012.

"ABC takes no responsibility for the sites these links take you to."

The problematic abstract at The Lancet linked to from The World Today:

The revealing comment to The Conversation about the discrepancy between the abstract and the main body of the journal paper, by respected psychiatric epidemiologist and lecturer Melissa Raven:

This wouldn't be the first time that our publicly-funded ABC guided the public towards having a positive view of a questionable drug advocated by the controversial Prof Hickie. Just take a look at this almost promotional story on the ABC's popular science TV series Catalyst about sleep deprivation in teens and issues thought to be caused by it, including depression, and new treatments.

Staying Up Late. 21 July 2011 Catalyst. ABCTV

"Melatonin and the melatonin-based drugs are the closest things we have to inducing normal sleep." - Prof Ian Hickie on Catalyst

Did he mention that abnormalities of liver function have been found to be common during treatment by one melatonin-based drug? Don't think he did.

And what do you know? The new drug Agomelatine is a melatonin-based drug, and the company that sells it, Servier, has supported research done by Prof. Hickie.

There are plenty of opportunities to access Prof. Hickie's advice thru the Catalyst website:

The people at Catalyst seem to be happy enough to help promote the idea that Australians have become a sleep-deprived nation, due to increasing personal use of new technologies and the fast pace of mofern life, but is it true? Apparently not:

Myths about sleep. Health Report. ABC Radio National. Broadcast:
Monday 6 February 2012.

"We were really looking at the average sleep population and what we found out is that in fact contrary to our hypothesis and contrary to most people’s views the Australian population on average is sleeping as much if not a tiny bit more in the mid 2000s than they were in the early ‘90s."

When is Catalyst going to do a special about the current profesional war over the federal govt's mental health reforms, the issue of conflicting interests re psychiatry researchers and drug companies, and changing definitions of mental illness and mental health? When is Catalyst going to interview people like Prof
Jon Jureidini, Dr Allen Frances and Dr Melissa Raven? Probably never.

I recommend the website Speed Up & Sit Still by Martin Whitely as a great place to get all the details about the ongoing controversy involving Prof Hickie and The Lancet:

See also this newspaper article

Dunlevy, Sue
'Campaign' targets depression guru Ian Hickie.
The Australian.

February 13th 2012.

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