Dr. David Healy, the British psychopharmacologist who was
abruptly "unhired" in late 2000 by the University of Toronto and the
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), will be in Toronto on
May 24 to deliver a controversial lecture at the Bloor Cinema at
In a presentation advertised as "the lecture that got me fired,"
Healy will revisit a November 30, 2000 speech he gave at CAMH that
he believes led to his offer of employment being rescinded.
A lawsuit he launched against the university has just been
settled, and he will become a visiting professor at the university's
faculty of medicine for the next three years. Healy's case sparked
an international controversy about pharmaceutical companies,
research and academic freedom.
In late 2000, the university and CAMH withdrew Healy's signed
offer of employment shortly after a talk he gave about the possible
dangers of the antidepressant Prozac -- which he said may induce
suicidal thoughts and behaviour in some patients -- in which he was
critical about the role of pharmaceutical companies in suppressing
negative research findings.
Healy is the author of The Antidepressant Era and The
Creation of Psychopharmacology, and a frequent expert witness in
legal cases involving pharmaceutical companies and selective
serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the class of drugs that
A joint statement by Healy, CAMH and the university says that
"although Dr. Healy believes that his clinical appointment was
rescinded because of his November 30, 2000 speech at CAMH, Dr. Healy
accepts assurances that pharmaceutical companies played no role in
either CAMH's decision to rescind his clinical appointment or the
University of Toronto's decision to rescind his academic appointment
following upon the rescission of his clinical appointment."
Healy has kept his position as head of the psychopharmacology
department at the University of North Wales, but will come to work
for a week each year with students at the University of Toronto.
Jean Simpson, executive vice president and chief operating
officer at CAMH, says the parties have agreed not to discuss any
details of the mediation or settlement.
"We're especially pleased that Dr. Healy accepted our assurance
that the drug companies played no role in our decision to rescind
his clinical appointment," Simpson says.
Dr. Healy could not be reached for comment.
The Canadian branch of the company that makes Prozac,
pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, contributed over $50,000 to the CAMH
foundation between April 1, 2000 and March 31, 2001. It says it does
not get involved in the employment decisions of its grant
recipients. But earlier, it withdrew a donation to a U.S. centre
after it published articles -- including one by Healy -- that made
criticisms of Prozac and other SSRIs.