PFIZER-FUNDED, DECADES-OLD MENTAL HEALTH CHECKLIST FUELED SSRIS
For Americans not yet convinced of Pfizer’s intentionally sinister role in the declining physical and mental health of our nation, the billion-dollar company’s behind-the-scenes funding of the test widely used for depression is another decisive example. Specifically, while searching in the late 1990s for ways to encourage primary care doctors to prescribe its newly-released antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline)—instead of presenting peer-reviewed scientific research—Pfizer teamed up with a marketing whiz named Howard Kroplick, who devised a simple checklist that created a sense of certainty and accuracy around a mental illness diagnosis.
That’s right, in addition to the current revelations coming forward of Pfizer’s enormous collusion with the federal government around its failed experimental COVID-19 injection, along with its $2.3 billion settlement in 2009 with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for fraudulent marketing—the largest healthcare fraud settlement in DOJ history—Pfizer plotted a “quick and dirty tool” to diagnose mental illness, which significantly broadened its base of probable Zoloft prescribers. Intended to make treating mental illness effortlessly routine for primary care doctors, the test, called PHQ-9 and introduced in the early 2000s, is still being used today.
In a recent interview with STAT, Kroplick—who boasted that he urged Pfizer to avoid using the word “impotence” when promoting its drug Viagra—shared for the first time how, more than two decades ago, he came up with the idea to capitalize on the vast untouched market that existed within the walls of primary care offices, many of which were uncomfortable treating mental illness, and rightly so. He pitched the questionnaire consisting of nine superficial questions to both scientific creators and executives at Pfizer, who, as previously noted, funded Kroplick’s work. Proudly remarking, “it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for me,” Kroplick explained that once implemented, the grossly unscientific tool “took on a life of its own,” becoming “omnipresent.” Alarmingly, PHQ-9 has been cited in more than 11,000 scientific papers.
To this day, despite several experts stating the form was never meant to be a diagnostic test to diagnose mental illness, the “go-to” checklist is routinely and effortlessly handed out to patients during primary care check-ups and OB-GYN visits—regardless of whether a patient has voiced mental health concerns. The nine questions touch on a range of issues that sets the threshold for anxiety and depression “far too low,” according to UK-based psychotherapist James Davies, co-founder of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry.
In 2017, a concerned Davies remarked that the form, which should only be used as a conversation starter between doctor and patient, if at all, resulted in patients being wrongly diagnosed and medicated. For example, patients whose symptoms may stem from unusually stressful or traumatic episodes in their lives end up being labeled as clinically depressed or anxious. With U.S.-based multinational Pfizer manufacturing most of the commonly prescribed SSRI drugs for anxiety and depression in the UK, Davies told the Telegraph:
“GPs are very busy, and they often don’t have time to do a full interview. It’s about getting people in and out of the door in 10 minutes. These forms have a very low criteria for anxiety and depression.
Millions of people have filled them in and got medication, but did they know they were developed by Pfizer?”