Denial - a psychological process by which painful truths are not admitted into an individual's consciousness.
It's not often you come across public figures running for office in Canada who have controversial ties to the Paxil 329 study, quite rare, so rare that the newspaper who initially ran with the headline, "Stan Kutcher involved in controversial drug test, Liberal candidate for Halifax co-authored problematic Paxil study." has now removed the story from its online page.
Kutcher is the Liberal candidate for Halifax [Canada] in Monday’s federal election. It appears he is using his expertise as a doctor to get his foot on the political ladder.
For those that don't know, Kutcher was involved in the controversial drug trials known as the Paxil 329 study.
Healthy Skepticism, the website which brought the study to light, writes:
The study was published in 2001 by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with Martin Keller as the primary author. This misleading paper has been a focus of interest for Healthy Skepticism since 2002. In 2003 we wrote to the Editor of JAACAP raising concerns about the misleading reporting by the authors that exaggerated benefit and downplayed adverse effects. (We also questioned editorial functioning, which drew an angry response from the Editor). In 2004 CMAJ published an Editorial which showed that in 1998 an internal GSK document clearly acknowledged that GSK were aware that 329 was negative. A subsequent law suit by New York Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, was settled out of court.
It was Kutcher's job to oversee the trials, the results of which were published in 2001, with Kutcher as a co-author.
The article, initially published in the The Coast Halifax yesterday [but now removed] wrote:
Documents later made public through lawsuits demonstrate, the initial outcome measures in the study showed that there was no difference in therapeutic benefits between Paxil and the placebo, but those measures were changed to give Paxil a more favourable result.
Yesterday's article continued with:
Kutcher was in the past paid by GlaxoSmithKline and other drug companies, but has not made the dollar amount of those payments public.
Kutcher says he stands by the Paxil 329 study. “I don’t think that study caused any particular controversy,” he says. “There certainly is a group of people who would like to cause a controversy around it, but science is nasty, brutish and long.”
Indeed, as co-author of a 2008 Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry “Position Paper on Using SSRIs in Children and Adolescents,” Kutcher refers to “positive” results in the problematic Paxil 329 study and completely ignores negative results published in 2006 from further GSK-sponsored research on Paxil in treating depression in adolescents in which he was also involved.
Kutcher's campaign page kind of leaves a bitter taste in the mouth wihere he writes the following:
I believe that my broad experience in health care, community activism and international social issues has given me the skills necessary to represent you in Ottawa. With your support I will be a staunch advocate for the economic and social prosperity of our region and for the future of our children.
His biography page, once again, emphasises his work with children:
Stan is a doctor, teacher, researcher and innovator working in adolescent mental health locally, nationally and with the World Health Organization. He has spent his career working to improve the lives of young people and their families.
What was it Stan told The Coast newspaper again?
“I don’t think that study caused any particular controversy,” he says. “There certainly is a group of people who would like to cause a controversy around it, but science is nasty, brutish and long.”
With respect Stan, you were not paid to think, you were paid to oversee a pediatric clinical trial, a trial that promoted the use of Paxil in children.
Nice work Stan! Let's hope you get the votes you crave on Monday.