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In the News Ask Your Doctor?

November 26, 2008

“All of a sudden, out of nowhere, bipolar disorder was being diagnosed left, right and center.”
David Shaffer, M.D., Chief, Child Psychiatry, Columbia University

Dr. Joseph Biederman, an influential child psychiatrist, made embarrassing news last June when it was revealed that he had failed to disclose over a million dollars in fees from drug companies whose antipsychotic medications he had promoted to treat bipolar disorder in children.

Now the controversial Dr. Biederman is back in the headlines, this time over new conflict of interest questions regarding his financial ties to pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson. For the latest developments on the story, see The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. For the full backstory, take a look at The Medicated Child, FRONTLINE's recent hour on the dramatic rise in diagnosis and drug treatment of ADHD and bipolar disorder in children. Veteran FRONTLINE producer Marcela Gaviria tells the moving stories of families struggling to help their children cope with the pain and confusion of conditions that may, or may not, be susceptible to pharmaceutical solution.

The brief excerpt from the film on this page spotlights Dr. Biederman's seminal role in the story. You can also watch the entire program, and dig deeper into the subject, on this webpage. And for deeper background still, you can see Marcela's previous FRONTLINE, Medicating Kids, broadcast in 2001, on the early days of ADHD diagnosis, and the contentious battles fought over whether and how to treat it.

One final source to recommend: Judith Warner has written thoughtfully in her NY Times blog on how hard it is to assess the pros and cons of antipsychotic medications for children.

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