Under the Microscope

Science  12 Feb 1999:
Vol. 283, Issue 5404, pp. 913b
DOI: 10.1126/science.283.5404.913b

Psychiatric experiments will get greater scrutiny from funders at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). On 5 February, an advisory panel gave NIMH head Steven Hyman (left) the go-ahead to form a special working group to examine proposed “challenge” studies, in which patients' symptoms are exacerbated by medication, and “drug washout” studies, in which medication is withdrawn. Such experiments have drawn intense criticism from some lawmakers and patient advocates (Science, 22 January, p. 464). The group—expected to number up to 10 ethicists and NIMH “outsiders”—may not have much work to do. Hyman estimates that just five of 250 grants made in a recent funding round would have gotten the special treatment. But he says NIMH has “to be proud of and ready to defend” the research it funds.

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