“The pharmaceutical industry has successfully promoted the use of alternatives”

This study was published on the 28 February 2019 in the British Journal of Psychiatry. It is open access:

Given my longstanding interest in factors influencing medical education in NHS Scotland, I was particularly interested in the Discussion section which included this:

The Times reported this with the following headline: Bipolar patients given drugs that risk making condition worse and went on to say:

“Almost a quarter of patients with bipolar disorder in Scotland are being prescribed medication that could make their symptoms worse, according to research.

Most patients with the disorder were missing out on “optimal treatments” while many were receiving treatments that were “at best ineffective and, at worse, detrimental for long-term outcome”, the study led by the University of Glasgow found.

It discovered that many patients with bipolar disorder in Scotland were on combinations of medication treatments that are out of line with recommended clinical guidelines.”

Having been a practising psychiatrist in NHS Scotland throughout the period of time examined by this study I have experienced the “successful promotion” of alternative (generally newer) medications by the pharmaceutical industry. I have always been uneasy about this because of the potential for harm. This was why I petitioned the Scottish Parliament to introduce a Sunshine Act for Scotland. The Scottish Government has chosen not to introduce such an Act and therefore the sort of consequences to patient safety identified in this study could happen again in NHS Scotland.






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