A lesson in how not to run for public office — in Canada or anywhere else

In his latest blog, Paul Thacker, an investigator for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and former aide to Senator Charles Grassley, struggles to understand how Dr. Stan Kutcher, a psychiatrist turned politician in Canada, could possibly say that Paxil study 329, which Kutcher co-authored in 2001, hasn’t caused any particular controversy. Thacker was at a conference in Toronto the night of the Canadian federal elections, and the talk at dinner that evening was all about how Kutcher, who was running on the Liberal Party ticket, had threatened to sue a Halifax newspaper, The Coast, for writing an article about his involvement in study 329.

In his blog, Thacker goes over ground covered in Side Effects — how flawed the 2001 Paxil study is, how it was ghost-written by a medical contractor for GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil, and then signed off on by its many authors, including Dr. Martin Keller, the principal investigator from Brown University, and Stan Kutcher. Thacker notes that Side Effects isn’t the only detailed account of ethically questionable behavior in study 329. The BBC also ran an investigative report on its flaws, and several medical researchers have called for a retraction of the study; see here and here.

Rather than own up to his involvement in what many consider a mockery of empirical research, Kutcher threatened to sue The Coast for libel, forcing it to issue a retraction and remove the offending article from its website (it was promptly archived by another site, Scribd). And then, as Thacker and other bloggers note, Kutcher and his henchmen went on the attack and essentially accused me of being a Scientologist.

For the record, I am not and have never been a Scientologist. The more pertinent question is: does Canada want politicians who engage in these kind of ad hominen attacks? Apparently not.

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