A Bethesda pychiatrist whose comments during a television show led to an investigation by state medical authorities said last night that a panel of the Maryland medical society has determined that there is no reason to take action against him.
Dr. Peter Breggin said he was told of the decision after he presented his case to the panel at a closed hearing in Baltimore.
The hearing was held in response to a complaint filed against Breggin by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill concering his televised comments critical of drug-based therapy for the mentally ill. The alliance endorses the use of antipsychotic drugs.
The medical society panel was to report to the State Commission on Medical Discipline, which has the power to lift Breggin's medical license. The society and the commission have refused to comment on the case, citing rules of confidentiality.
During an April 2 appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show, Breggin, a widely known and outspoken opponent of drug and electroshock therapy, said that people seeking psychiatric advice should avoid doctors who immediately want to prescribe medication.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill contends that it has received reports from around the country that mentally ill patients who heard Breggin's comments have stopped taking their medications.
Experts in the field of medical ethics have said the complaint against Breggin is highly unusual, raising serious concerns about his right to free speech.
The American Civil Liberties Union in Maryland formally urged the state to drop its investigation of Breggin. Executive Director Stuart Comstock-Gay said that the ACLU would consider joining Breggin in a lawsuit.
"If people can be disciplined for making that kind of statement in a legitimate public forum, what that does to the future of various sciences is real scary," Comstock-Gay said.