Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Petition to NYT requesting an opportunity for Robert Whitaker to respond to Dr. Peter Kramer

This is so unlike me. Last week, the New York Times published a piece by Dr. Peter Kramer, on antidepressants.  Dr. Kramer is famous for writing two best sellers, "Listening to Prozac" and "On Depression", two books which I must say are in my own personal library.

Today, the Old Gray Lady published a piece with people agreeing or disagreeing with the post by Dr. Kramer here.  One of the people they published, was Marcia Angell, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and former editor in chief of The New England Journal of Medicine. She has also written a book "The Truth About Drug Companies" which I have in print and in audio, and very highly recommend.  The Times also published reviews from Warren Procci, the current President of the American Psychanalytic Association and a professor at the the David Geffen School of Medicine. But where was a comment from Robert Whitaker, author of "Anatomy of an Epidemic", and the "Mad In America", column in Psychology Today? 

If you don't see my quandry, my friend Susan Kingsley-Smith, a talented blogger and radio personality, did, and started a petition for Mr. Whitaker to air his two cents in the Times. 

Her petition goes like this....
Dear Editors of the New York Times:
We are writing to request that the New York Times provide an opportunity for a public response to Dr. Peter Kramer's opinion piece, "In Defense of Antidepressants," published on July 9, 2011. Dr. Kramer's opinion appeared on the front page of the Sunday Review, and has been widely circulated since. It was the New York Times' most emailed article of that day.
Dr. Kramer's article was a response to Marcia Angell's review of three books that have called into question the efficacy of psychiatric drugs, one of which was Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic, which won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors Association Award for Best Investigative Journalism. Another was The Emperor's New Drugs, by Irving Kirsch. The substance of Angell's reviews was exposing the distortion of facts by academic psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies who have portrayed antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs as effective and safe, when much countervailing evidence exists to show that they are in fact, over the long term, ineffective and harmful.
We believe Dr. Kramer's article is another such distortion. He misinterpreted well-conceived and executed studies authored by Irving Kirsch and Robert DeRubeis, asserting that these supported the effectiveness of antidepressants, and that these drugs have earned a deserved, evidence-based place in the treatment of mental illness. Yet the very studies he referenced, when carefully parsed, do not in fact support those assertions at all, and he neglected to reference numerous other studies that would refute his assertions.
In the interest of balanced journalism, we respectfully request that the New York Times provide the opportunity for a rebuttal from one or more of the authors criticized or misinterpreted by Dr. Kramer. Whitaker has written a measured rebuttal of Dr. Kramer's piece, currently available at this link onPsychology Today. Kirsch and DeRubeis should also be allowed to voice their own interpretations of their studies. We believe it is important that the New York Times give adequate space for its readers to consider alternative and evidence-based viewpoints on antidepressants, as this is such an important, pervasive, and at times confusing issue. We must at a minimum hold up a standard of accurate representation of the facts so that consumers can make choices based on correct information.
Dr. Mark Foster, DO, ClearMinds, Inc
Susan Kingsley-Smith
Amy Smith
I am passing on her petition. If anyone reading this is would like Mr. Whitaker to put his response in the the New York Times, please sign. If not, it's ok. We are trying to get 1,000 signatures. My opinion is in the fairness of journalism let Robert Whitaker speak.  
Instructions on the petition are below, and a  very short video of Robert Whitaker.
Thank you. 


Calling In Sick Today said...

Wow, I must admit my ignorance to much of this and you've certainly added substantially to my reading list. Thanks for such an infomative post. Suprising to think I've never looked 'that' deeply into the medications I pop every night before bed. Goes to show that I should maybe be a bit more cynical and do my own researching. Thanks

susan said...

Hi Med,

I never looked into my meds, I just took them because I trusted the doctors.

I am not a doctor, all I know and will say on the blog if you feel ANY side effects from the meds, or you think it's too much- please talk to your doctor. Question, and badger them.

I didn't. I wish I had questioned them, what they were and what they did, more carefully.

I know you are new to this, just make sure if you have any questions, call your doctor. And keep in mind, what works for you, may not work for someone else.

I highly recommend both the Whitaker book and the Angell book. Kramer's book on Prozac is over 20 years old, it's dated. As for his book on depression, it's interesting and a good primer for what it is to people who cannot understand it. It also has some of the best quotes on depression I have ever seen.

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