Last week at the HAI conference in Cork Professor Healy spoke about Pharmaceutical companies and their relationship with the “Irish College of Psychiatry”. He said that when drug companies were asked… Can your drug (ssri’s) cause people to commit suicide?” They legally have to answer YES. He said the way they get around this tricky question is to defer that kind of question to professors of psychiatry here in Ireland. The company is legally obliged to say the drug can cause Suicide, but academics don’t have to!
Speaking about Shane’s case he said “There was a campaign organised by the Irish College of Psychiatry before his inquest, and during his inquest and after his Inquest to say that these drugs can cause no problem at all. The jury at the inquest, a bunch of average people from rural Ireland, faced with the evidence came to the view that it was clear that the drug had an effect on him, and they refused to say that this was a normal suicide and normal homicide. They opened up the door to a drug induced problem”.
So I decided to go back through, among others, the Irish Times and Irish Independent archives to see what they did actually say about Shane and Antidepressants. What I found looks very much like a campaign of intimidation because we had the audacity to voice our concerns. It started of with Dr. Michael Corry who spoke out about the dangers of antidepressants and his belief that Shane was a classic case of an adverse reaction to this medication. Then just to explain, Dr. Corry then appeared on Irish Tv with us on “The Late, Late, show” and again reiterated his concerns…
Aug. 31. 2009
Dr. Micheal Corry… I would stake my reputation on the fact that Shane Clancy would not have done what he did, if the wasn’t on anti-depressants!
Oct. 10.09 Did a drug lead to killing?
Dr Jogin Thakore…“The conversation gave the impression that antidepressants increase the risk for homicide. There is absolutely no link between taking antidepressants and homicidal behaviour,” says Dr Jogin Thakore, clinical director of psychiatry in the HSE’s Dublin North Central district.
Dr Justin Brophy, a consultant psychiatrist in Co Wicklow agrees, adding: “I would be extremely concerned that following The Late Late Show , people who have been prescribed antidepressants would stop taking them, and that people who need to take them in order to function in their lives will feel stigmatised, and may even hide the fact that they are taking them. The stakes are very high here because people’s lives and people’s health will be seriously compromised and endangered by misleading and imbalanced advice.”
Oct.19.09 Antidepressants and homicide (8 Professors letter to the Irish Times)
Prof. Patricia Casey, Prof. Micheal Gill, Prof. James Lucey, Prof. Tim Dinan, Prof. Brian Lawlor, Prof. Kevin Malone, Prof David Meagher and Prof. Colm Mc’Donald.
A controversial statement has been made about this, both in the print media and on television, namely that antidepressants cause homicide, which we wish to rebut. There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that antidepressants cause homicide, as has been so definitively stated. This contention is not only inaccurate but it is also potentially dangerous and irresponsible. We regret that greater restraint was not exercised in the coverage of this sad event and we unequivocally recommend that the relevant media outlets follow the wise counsel of the Irish Association of Suicidology when dealing such sensitive issues. — Yours, etc, Prof. Patricia Casey, Prof. Micheal Gill, Prof. James Lucey, Prof. Tim Dinan, Prof. Brian Lawlor, Prof. Kevin Malone, Prof David Meagher and Prof. Colm Mc’Donald.
Friday October 23 2009 Herald.ie
Dr Justin Brophy…
Late Late exploited Shane Clancy’s parents — priest
Jesuit priest Fr Fergus O’Donoghue has questioned the Late Late Show’s “exploitation” of the parents of murderer Shane Clancy by having them appear as guests on the show. Clancy’s heartbroken mother Leonie Fennell and stepfather Tony Donnelly appeared on the show to insist that their son’s mental state had been affected by the anti-depressant medications. He wrote: “Who, in fact, persuaded them that this was the right thing to do? “Were they there because some television producers and presenters felt compassion for them or because they represented hot stories and would lift ratings?” Fr O’Donoghue also asked why Shane Clancy’s use of anti-depressants was being used as a defence for his actions. “A consensus began to build at once, with many people saying ‘he was on anti-depressants,’ as if that were a satisfactory explanation for homicidal behaviour,” he said. Fr O’Donoghue also supported a psychologist’s condemnation of Shane’s parents’ suggestion that anti-depressants were the only logical explanation behind the killing But he warned; “I doubt if even their combined experience and wisdom will prevent the widespread acceptance of such a simple explanation for such appalling violence.
Dr Justin Brophy, a consultant psychiatrist in Wicklow expressed his concern that people taking anti-depressants would now stop taking them for fear of the stigma attached. He said: “The stakes are very high here because people’s lives and people’s health will be seriously compromised and endangered by misleading and imbalanced advice.”
Professor of Psychiatry charges Dr Michael Corry at Medical Council
A senior psychiatrist, Professor Timothy Dinan of University College, Cork, has laid a complaint against Dr Michael Corry at the Medical Council. The complaint concerns Michael Corry’s statements about the role of SSRI antidepressants in the murder/suicide of xxxx xxxxx and Shane Clancy. Dinan, who is an enthusiastic advocate of SSRIs and SNRIs and has declared his close relations with several drug companies, accuses Dr Corry of “”statements regarding the pharmacology of antidepressants” and of making “statements regarding a diagnosis without ever seeing the patient”.
October 2009. Complaint to the BAI ( Broadcasting Authority of Ireland)
DR. Justin Brophy
Dr. Justin Brophy makes a complaint to the BAI against RTE and the Late Late Show for what Dr. Corry was allowed to say.
Dec.15. 09 When risks outweigh benefits.
Here, the mother and stepfather of Shane Clancy, who killed student xxxxxx xxxxx and stabbed two others before taking his own life, have said they believe antidepressants played a role in their son’s behaviour. Several leading Irish psychiatrists have voiced concern that misleading and sensationalist claims in the media about antidepressants might encourage vulnerable people who have been prescribed the drugs to discontinue their medication. They insist antidepressants have transformed the lives of millions of people with depressive illnesses, who would otherwise have needed hospital treatment. But professor of psychology at the University of Hull, Irving Kirsch, believes SSRIs are no better than placebo in treating depression, as their biological effects are below the criteria for clinical significance. He bases his controversial claim on an analysis of antidepressant medication data submitted to the FDA in the US. He says a meta-analysis of the data for four commonly prescribed SSRIs avoids “the bias” caused by pharmaceutical companies selectively reporting only positive results. Kirsch also believes there is now “no evidential support” for the prevailing chemical theory of depression, as the relationship between serotonin and mood has not been proved. Professor of psychiatry at University College Cork, Ted Dinan, takes issues with Kirsch’s views. “Whatever one’s biological view of depression, to say that the current licensed medications are nothing but glorified placebos is utterly nonsense.” Dinan insists the licensing of antidepressant medications requires large, multi-centred trials that must clearly show the medications are superior to placebo.
Thursday, 15 April 2010
Prof Patricia Casey RTE News.
Open verdict in Shane Clancy inquest
Speaking after the verdict was delivered, clinical psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey, who was at the inquest representing the College of Psychiatry of Ireland, read a statement in which she expressed the college’s disappointment at the Coroner’s decision to not allow it give evidence. She said there were aspects of the evidence which the college took issue with and it would elaborate further on the details in the coming days.
April 16, 2010 Anti-depressants to blame for death, mother says
Prof Patricia Casey
The coroner for East Wicklow, Dr Cathal Louth, refused a request by the College of Psychiatry in Ireland to allow it to question Prof Healy’s evidence. Ciaran Craven BL, for the college, interjected during the inquest saying there were concerns about linking SSRIs to suicidal and homicidal behaviour. Mr Craven said he was worried that without expert testimony from the college people could be discouraged from taking medication perfectly suited to them. The jury had to be dismissed while the coroner heard the application but Mr Louth rejected the request and said he was happy with the evidence he had heard. Afterwards, psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey said she was disappointed the college was not allowed to give evidence and it would be responding today.
April 17, 2010 Psychiatry body silent on Clancy inquest
Ciaran Craven, for the college
In a statement last night, the college said it was aware of issues relating to SSRI anti-depressant medication, which emerged at the public inquest. “Due to the sensitivities involved and the fact that there is a related legal process pending, we are not commenting publicly on the issues raised at this time.” During the inquest, Prof David Healy, from the Cardiff University school of medicine in Wales, said Mr Clancy had had a bad reaction to the drug and should not have been prescribed another course. He said there was a “low level” of public awareness about the potential impact of these drugs. Coroner for East Wicklow, Dr Cathal Louth, refused a request by the college to allow it to question Prof Healy’s evidence. Ciaran Craven, for the college, said during the inquest that there were concerns about linking SSRIs to suicidal and homicidal behaviour. Mr Craven said he was worried that without expert testimony from the college, people could be discouraged from taking medication perfectly suited to them.
April 27, 2010 Violence link to medication rejected by psychiatrist
THE DECISION by the professional body for psychiatry not to comment on evidence at the recent Shane Clancy inquest has been described as a “disgrace” and “absolutely deplorable” by a senior psychiatrist.
UCC professor of psychiatry Ted Dinan said he was “incensed” that the College of Psychiatry of Ireland (CPscyhI) had not attempted to rebut evidence suggesting that Mr Clancy had killed xxxx xxxxx and then himself under the influence of anti-depressants. Evidence was given at the East Wicklow Coroner’s Court inquest earlier this month by Prof David Healy from the University of Cardiff who said that in a small number of cases anti-depressants can cause people to become potentially homicidal or suicidal. Mr Clancy’s mother, Leonie Fennell, told the inquest that anti-depressants had made her son’s depression worse and had caused him to kill Mr xxxxx and then himself in Bray last August. She warned other families of the danger of such drugs.
The CPscyhI was refused permission by the coroner, Dr Cathal Louth, to respond to Dr Healy’s evidence. Afterwards, the well-known psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey, who attended the inquest, expressed disappointment on behalf of the college, but said it would be responding within 36 hours. However, a statement issued the following day from CPscyhI said it would not be appropriate to comment because of the sensitivities of the case and the pending inquest into the death of Mr xxxxx. Prof Dinan said the reasons cited by the college should not have deterred it from making a statement. “What relevance does that have? Somebody has made a claim and it has been on the front pages of the tabloid newspapers that anti-depressants can cause homicide and suicide, and the College of Psychiatrists can’t even make a statement reassuring the large number of patients who are on anti-depressants. They really need to get a grip on the situation.”
Prof Dinan said he could say with “100 per cent certainty and without any fear of contradiction” that modern anti-depressants such as the drug Citalopram (sold as Cipramil) which Mr Clancy took do not cause people to commit murder. He added that there was no evidence either that the drugs cause patients to take their own lives.
The UCC professor, who is a former head of psychiatry at Bart’s Hospital in London and is now in public practice, said he felt compelled to speak out because of the reluctance of the college to do so. “I avoid publicity, but I’m incensed by this. It is terrible for patients. I think the college’s attitude or failure to make a statement is deplorable.”
May.7.2010 Irish Times.
The College of Psychiatry of Ireland and Lundbeck.
The College of Psychiatry of Ireland says it is preparing a response to issues relating to anti-depressant medication that arose following the deaths of xxxxxx xxxx and Shane Clancy. A statement from Lundbeck, the makers of Cirpramil, said there was “no evidence” linking the drug to violence and it actually had the opposite impact. There was no increase in the risk of suicide and studies had shown no increase in violent behaviour in those who take the drug, Lundbeck said.
Prof Patricia Casey…Experts clash over anti-depressant link to homicides.
Afterwards, psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey, who attended the inquest, expressed disappointment on behalf of the college. The college later said it would respond after the inquest of Mr xxxx had been held. In the statement, the college said there had been considerable discussion of suicidality and homicidality as potential adverse effects of antidepressant medications, particularly elective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) anti-depressants.
“Much of this discussion has been speculative. Clearly, suicide and homicide are events of the utmost gravity and any possible role of any treatment in precipitating such tragedies warrants the most thorough investigation,” it said. “However, discussion of the risks involved must be based on evidence rather than conjecture or unfounded personal opinion.” Anecdotal cases of suicide sometimes mistakenly attribute these tragic events to the treatment rather than the illness itself. “Homicide by people who have recently started anti-depressants is incredibly rare, but it occurs. Anti-depressants do not cause violence. Neither are they, nor can they be expected to be, an inoculation against violence.”
May 24, 2010
College of Psychiatry of Ireland
The Irish Medical Times. Psychiatrists reply to ‘speculation’ on risks
The training body for psychiatrists in this country has said that there is ‘no evidence’ of a link existing between antidepressant use and homicide, and that research has failed to establish a causal link between the use of these medications and suicide. In a detailed three-page document released recently, the College of Psychiatry of Ireland said recent discussions surrounding these risks had been ‘speculative’ and failed to recognise that untreated depression can have a fatal outcome. It was also concerned that a mooted link between antidepressants and violence, which it stressed did not have a basis in scientific evidence, risked perpetuating a ‘false and stigmatising stereotype’ that people living with mental illness were violent.
While not referring directly to the case, the College’s statement is a long-awaited direct response to issues raised by the tragic cases of 22-year-old Shane Clancy, who died in Bray in August 2009, after he had stabbed to death xxxxx xxxx. “We address the inquest here simply to respond to the sworn expert evidence, which was, in our view, speculative,” the College stated, in reference to evidence given by Prof David Healy of the University of Cardiff, who said that while ‘extraordinarily rare’, SSRIs could spark suicidal or homicidal reactions.
Summer 2010 College of psychiatry Ireland Newsletter.
DR. Justin Brophy
As communicated recently to our members, the college did not issue a detailed statement during two recent inquests where evidence linking antidepressant use with self-inflicted death and the death or injury of others was presented. We have now issued a full statement to all print and broadcast media outlining clearly our position and disquiet on the speculative nature of this evidence.
The statement is available on our website (www.irishpsychiatry.ie) and was emailed to all members. Thank you to all those involved in the whole process to compile this important piece.
DR. Justin Brophy, President.
CLARIFICATION ON ANTIDEPRESSANT MEDICATION.
In the past month there has been considerable discussion in Ireland of suicidality and homicidality as potential adverse effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (ssri) antidepressant medication. Much of this discussion has been speculative.
Clearly, suicide and homicide are events of the utmost gravity and any possible role of any treatment in precipitating such tragedies warrants the most thorough investigation. However, discussion of the risks involved must be based on evidence rather than conjecture or unfound opinion.
Untreated depression can have a fatal outcome. Those experiencing moderate-to-severe depression frequently describe having thoughts of self-harm. Antidepressants are effective in the treatment of depression. The effective treatment of depression is an important means of reducing suicide rates.
A high volume of research in recent years has failed to establish a causal link between antidepressant use and suicide. At an individual level, the period early in treatment may be a time of relatively high risk, as treatment tends to start when the person’s depression is severe and treatment takes some weeks to work. As treatment takes effect and energy and motivation return, people who have recently commenced antidepressant treatment may be more able to act on suicidal thoughts that are inherent to their condition. That the early recovery period is potentially a period of increased risk for suicidality is something of which all doctors should be aware. The college of psychiatry of Ireland, in unison with the Irish medicines board, recommend close monitoring of all individuals commenced on antidepressant therapy.
There is no evidence of a link between antidepressant use and homicide.
A more detailed statement articulating the issues is attached and available on the website of the college of psychiatry of Ireland, http://irishpsychiatry.ie
- The Hidden Gorilla (madinamerica.com)
- The Medical Council of Ireland and Prof Cowen of Oxford University (leoniefennell.wordpress.com)
- Kathleen Lynch; Minister with responsibility for mental health? (leoniefennell.wordpress.com)