Psychopharmacology Is Not Evidence-Based Medicine



This chapter argues two evidence-based conclusions: not only are psychiatric drugs dramatically overprescribed and overvalued but the harms they unleash completely overwhelm any benefits accrued. While accepting numerous reasons for our current prescribing epidemic, this chapter focuses on the manipulation of most placebo controlled trials, the systematic underreporting of drug harms, the industry-led misrepresentation of drug safety and efficacy and the medical denial of the substantial role withdrawal and abstinence symptoms play in convincing patients to stay on drugs. This chapter concludes that a thorough and independent review of the evidence base reveals that psychiatric drugs, apart from calming some people down when taken short term, “have failed to deliver what patients want, which is to work specifically for specific mental or emotional problems.” Since mental illness is rarely chronic and lifelong, it argues there is no scientific justification for the widespread lifelong use of psychiatric drugs. If we are to restore balance, and reverse these harms, a total reappraisal of what the evidence teaches must be translated into reformed prescribing guidelines.


Evidence-based medicine Clinical trials Drug benefits and harms Pharmaceutical sponsorship 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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