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David Healy
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David Healy

David Healy is a psychiatrist who is currently Reader in Psychological Medicine at the University of Wales, College of Medicine.

He is the author of a number of books and is particulary noted for his books detailing the history of the development of psychopharmacology and his criticisms of the pharmaceutical industry.

Healy became the centre of controversy concerning the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on medicine and academia.

He was offered a professorship in psychiatry at the University of Toronto, which he accepted to start in 2000. Before he had started the job, he gave a talk at a psychiatric conference in Toronto in which he highlighted the lack of research investigating whether Prozac increased the chance of suicide in some patients, despite their being much controversy about this matter in the medical community. He further argued that drug companies were failing to carry out, or suppressing studies which would show their product in a bad light, therefore potentially reducing their profits, despite causing negative health effects for patients.

Healy was contacted shortly after his presentation by the University of Toronto, who informed him his contract had been terminated because of his lecture.

Eli Lilly, the manufacturers of Prozac, provided a significant amount of funding for mental health research at the University, and it has been alleged that they put pressure on the University to break their agreement to employ David Healy. The University of Toronto has denied this, but the issue has sparked debate about academic freedom and the gagging of staff who express views unfavourable to vested interests, in violation of the traditions and regulations of most academic establishments.

Healy sued the University but settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.

This issue has also highlighted controversy about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry over academic medicine, a discipline which has traditionally prided itself on being independent and unbiased in researching and assessing medical treatments.

Selected bibliography

External links