In the grip of the python: conflicts at the university-industry interface

Sci Eng Ethics. 2003 Jan;9(1):59-71. doi: 10.1007/s11948-003-0020-2.


When the University of Toronto withdrew a contract it held with me in December 2000, it initiated a sequence of events that led to a public letter to the University from senior figures in the world psychopharmacology community protesting against the infringement of academic freedom involved and a first ever legal action, undertake by this author, seeking redress for a violation of academic freedom. The issues of academic freedom surrounding this case have been intertwined with a debate about the possibility that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) group of antidepressants have the potential to trigger suicidality in a subgroup of patients. Whether the SSRIs do trigger suicidality or not, exploration of this issue has given rise to a number of worrying sets of observations. First, in my view, there is evidence that pharmaceutical companies have miscoded raw data on suicidal acts and suicidal ideation. Second, this author also maintains that there is a growing body of examples of ghostwriting of articles in the therapeutics domain. Many of the tensions evident in this case, therefore, can be linked to company abilities to keep clinical trial data out of the public domain--this is the point at which the pharmaceutical python gets a grip on academia.

Publication types

  • Legal Case

MeSH terms

  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Disclosure
  • Drug Industry / ethics*
  • Drug Industry / organization & administration
  • Ethics, Institutional*
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Ontario
  • Scientific Misconduct
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / adverse effects
  • Suicide / psychology
  • Universities / ethics*
  • Universities / organization & administration


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors