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Monday, May 20, 2019

How Drug Companies Helped Shape a Shifting Biological View of Mental Ilness

Terry Gross
NPR Health Shots
Originally posted May 2, 2019

Here are two excerpts:

On why the antidepressant market is now at a standstill

The huge developments that happen in the story of depression and the antidepressants happens in the late '90s, when a range of different studies increasingly seemed to suggest that these antidepressants — although they're helping a lot of people — when compared to placebo versions of themselves, don't seem to do much better. And that is not because they are not helping people, but because the placebos are also helping people. Simply thinking you're taking Prozac, I guess, can have a powerful effect on your state of depression. In order, though, for a drug to get on the market, it's got to beat the placebo. If it can't beat the placebo, the drug fails.

(cut)

On why pharmaceutical companies are leaving the psychiatric field

Because there have been no new good ideas as to where to look for new, novel biomarkers or targets since the 1960s. The only possible exception is there is now some excitement about ketamine, which targets a different set of biochemical systems. But R&D is very expensive. These drugs are now, mostly, off-patent. ... [The pharmaceutical companies'] efforts to bring on new drugs in that sort of tried-and-true and tested way — with a tinker here and a tinker there — has been running up against mostly unexplained but indubitable problems with the placebo effect.

The info is here.

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