Dear Editors of the New York Times:
We are writing to request that the New York Times provide an opportunity for a public response to Dr. Peter Kramer's opinion piece, "In Defense of Antidepressants," published on July 9, 2011. Dr. Kramer's opinion appeared on the front page of the Sunday Review, and has been widely circulated since. It was the New York Times' most emailed article of that day.
Dr. Kramer's article was a response to Marcia Angell's review of three books that have called into question the efficacy of psychiatric drugs, one of which was Robert Whitaker's book Anatomy of an Epidemic, which won the 2010 Investigative Reporters and Editors Association Award for Best Investigative Journalism. Another was The Emperor's New Drugs, by Irving Kirsch. The substance of Angell's reviews was exposing the distortion of facts by academic psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies who have portrayed antidepressants and other psychiatric drugs as effective and safe, when much countervailing evidence exists to show that they are in fact, over the long term, ineffective and harmful.
We believe Dr. Kramer's article is another such distortion. He misinterpreted well-conceived and executed studies authored by Irving Kirsch and Robert DeRubeis, asserting that these supported the effectiveness of antidepressants, and that these drugs have earned a deserved, evidence-based place in the treatment of mental illness. Yet the very studies he referenced, when carefully parsed, do not in fact support those assertions at all, and he neglected to reference numerous other studies that would refute his assertions.
In the interest of balanced journalism, we respectfully request that the New York Times provide the opportunity for a rebuttal from one or more of the authors criticized or misinterpreted by Dr. Kramer. Whitaker has written a measured rebuttal of Dr. Kramer's piece, currently available at this link on Psychology Today. Kirsch and DeRubeis should also be allowed to voice their own interpretations of their studies. We believe it is important that the New York Times give adequate space for its readers to consider alternative and evidence-based viewpoints on antidepressants, as this is such an important, pervasive, and at times confusing issue. We must at a minimum hold up a standard of accurate representation of the facts so that consumers can make choices based on correct information.
Dr. Mark Foster, DO, ClearMinds, Inc