“Murky stuff”

On the 20 July 2022, the following systematic review was published in Molecular Psychiatry. The authors were Joanna Moncrieff, Ruth E. Cooper, Tom Stockmann, Simone Amendola, Michael P. Hengartner & Mark A. Horowitz

On 16 June 2023, the following comment was published in Molecular Psychiatry. The authors were Sameer Jauhar, Danilo Arnone, David S. Baldwin, Michael Bloomfield, Michael Browning, Anthony J. Cleare, Phillip Corlett, J. F. William Deakin, David Erritzoe, Cynthia Fu, Paolo Fusar-Poli, Guy M. Goodwin, Joseph Hayes, Robert Howard, Oliver D. Howes, Mario F. Juruena, Raymond W. Lam, Stephen M. Lawrie, Hamish McAllister-Williams, Steven Marwaha, David Matuskey, Robert A. McCutcheon, David J. Nutt, Carmine Pariante, Toby Pillinger, Rajiv Radhakrishnan, James Rucker, Sudhakar Selvaraj, Paul Stokes, Rachel Upthegrove, Nefize Yalin, Lakshmi Yatham, Allan H. Young, Roland Zahn & Philip J. Cowen

The response by the authors of the original systematic review can be read in full by clicking here or on the title image below:

On the 18 June 2022, an article in the Daily Mail by Ethan Ennals, began:


Another author of the open letter calling for the systematic review to be retracted was Dr Sameer Jauhar:

The authors of the open letter quite rightly stated that given the importance of this subject that transparency is “essential”. I am sure that both scientists and the public would be in full agreement here.

The authors have declared their extensive competing interests at the end of their comment published in Molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately however, there is no way of establishing the scale of competing interests in relative terms. This is because paid opinion leaders [the majority of the authors of this published comment] are not required to declare payments from industry.  The UK has no legislation for this [legislation that is sometimes referred to as Sunshine legislation].

Fiona Godlee, when Editor of the BMJ stated in relation to Paid Opinion leaders:

Many of the authors seeking retraction of the Systematic Review of the Serotonin hypothesis  feature in this [limited] analysis of ‘Narrative control‘. The common factor underlying all is that they are paid opinion leaders.

In  2015, UK psychiatrists were “educated” by Professor Stephen Stahl:

As Professor Stahl is American and it is mandatory to declare payments from industry [dollars-for-docs] It was straightforward to establish that he had received £3.5 million dollars from the pharmaceutical industry.

The authors of the published comment who seek a retraction of the original systematic review, were concerned about a “depleted account” of the evidence it included. The very same charge could be made of a ‘depleted account’ in relation to the details of actual payments, and the reasons for them, made to the authors of this published comment. It is entirely reasonable to wonder if payments could be of the scale as those received by Professor Stahl.

One of the authors of the Open Letter has stated publicly: “None of us are as invested in pushing twisted poor Science to further our particular ideology. The paper will end up retracted but damage has been done to patient safety” and went on to say of the publication process: “murky stuff.

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