Update on our complaint to the Irish Medical Council.

Our complaint to the Irish Medical Council and their decision.

In August 2010 we made a complaint to the Irish Medical council (IMC) about Shane’s treatment from the Doctors he saw in his last 17 days. 

The basis of our complaint was “Why were these doctors not aware that when a person starts an antidepressant, there is a markedly increased risk of suicide ideation and also that there is a certain percentage of people who can react violently and deadly to this medication?”. We wanted to know, considering the above, why was Shane allowed to get a prescription for a months supply of this drug and if this is common policy, then surely this practise should be revised.

We were very aware that antidepressants caused this horrific event in our lives and that of another family and we had a report from a medical expert (Prof. Healy) who testified to this, so we were particularly concerned that if this practise is not changed, the potential is always there for another family tragedy.

The first step in a complaint to the Irish Medical Council is a meeting to decide if the complaint will go further and if the Doctors in question will or wont have anything to answer for. This meeting has been put off twice now, the last time because the IMC needed a report from an independent third party. I asked if they were aware that professor David Healy had written an extensive report for Shane’s inquest and insisted on forwarding the same to the IMC. They said they were awaiting a report from a Professor Philip Cowen from Oxford University, so naturally enough the first thing I did was Google this professor along with the name Lundbeck. I discovered that Conflict of interest is clearly an issue here and I e-mailed the IMC to notify them of my concerns…

 May 16 2011

Hi Roslyn,
I trust you received Professor Healy’s report?
I did a quick google search of Professor Cowen and I would have thought, under the circumstances of my son’s death and the fact that lundbeck are the makers of citalopram, the engagement of this professor would surely be a “conflict of interest” but I’m sure you know better than I how to go about investigating these matters!
I would like to be kept informed, if you do go with this professor or indeed any other expert the medical council decide on.
Yours Sincerely,
Leonie Fennell

I also attached this to the bottom of my e-mail…

Philip J. Cowen, MD, FRCPsych
University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford OX3 7JX, UK. Email: phil.cowen@psych.ox.ac.uk
Declaration of interest
P.J.C. has been a paid member of boards that have advised different drug companies on the development of antidepressant drugs. In the past 3 years these companies have included Eli Lilly, Lundbeck and Servier. P.J.C. has also received remuneration for scientific advice given to legal representatives of GlaxoSmithKline.
Link… http://bjp.rcpsych.org/cgi/content/abstract/198/5/333


The Medical Council meeting is scheduled for July 21th but I think I already suspect what the outcome will be, considering P.J. Cowens afilliation with Lundbeck, is it  possible for him to give an independent unbiased opinion? Why would anyone who gets paid by a company, subsequently acknowledge that these drugs have the potential to drive a person to commit acts of “self harm and harm to others”, a fact already acknowledged by Lundbeck but denied by the very same company on Irish T.V.

Why would he even be asked by the Irish Medical Council to do a report? How much money are these distinguished Professors receiving from pharmaceutical companies each year, and can you call yourself an independent medical advisor if you are “a paid member of boards that have advised different drug companies on the development of antidepressant drugs”.

Rather than getting myself into trouble again, I’ll let you decide for yourself if Philip J. Cowen was the right man for the job….

2002 study, Citalopram was a gift from Lundbeck. Link.

2002 paper, Declaration of interest. PJC has advised Lundbeck, Eli Lilly and Servier in the last 2 years. Link.

2007 paper. Declaration of interest. P.J.C. has served as a paid member of advisory boards for Eli Lilly, Lundbeck, Servier and Wyeth. Link.

2009, BJPsych declaration of interest. P.J.C. has been a member of advisory boards of pharmaceutical companies marketing antidepressants. Link.

2010 Paper. Declaration of interest. PJC has been a paid member of advisory boards of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Eli Lilly, Servier, Wyeth, and Xytis and has been a paid lecturer for Eli Lilly, Servier, and GlaxoSmithKline. He has received remuneration for scientific advice given to legal representatives of GlaxoSmithKline. Link.

Feb 2010. PJC was a speaker at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Annual meeting sponsored by Lundbeck and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Link.

BJPsych 2011. Declaration of interest P.J.C. has been a paid member of boards that have advised different drug companies on the development of antidepressant drugs. In the past 3 years these companies have included Eli Lilly,Lundbeck and Servier. P.J.C. has also received remuneration for scientific advice given to legal representatives of GlaxoSmithKline. Link.

April 2011. PJC was a speaker at the Athens Lundbeck Symposium. Link.

Updated, 20/07/2011.

I have just found out that the head of the Irish Medical Council is Prof. Kieran Murphy, a psychiatrist. He is also on the Board of the Irish College of Psychiatrists. The Irish College of psychiatry have been very verbal in their opinion since Shane’s Inquest and have been very outspoken in their denial that antidepressants can cause either suicide or homicide. They also dismissed Professor Healy’s report as “based on speculation”. Two examples of their opinion..Here and Here. I find it ironic that the Irish College of psychiatry can say this report is based on speculation when their whole profession is based upon the same.

Considering this information, have the Irish Medical Council already made up their minds as to the outcome of our complaint?

In my opinion, the flagrant and multiple conflict of interest here is a disgrace and if we had any chance of getting a fair and unbiased hearing, our complaint should not have been dealt with by either professors (Cowen or Murphy).


Random Facts…

The Medical Council Members were appointed by Minister Mary Harney who incidentally opened the new Dublin Offices of Lundbeck. Another random (or not) thought…Dr. Mc’Manus is the guy that I have a major issue with, because he gave Shane a months supply of Citalopram, despite the fact that according to his medical records, Shane admitted to having suicidal thoughts. Dr.Mc’Manus was married to Liz Mc’Manus who was the deputy leader of the Labour Party and party Spokesperson for health from 2002–07 (now retired). He is also reported to be one of the top earners in North Wicklow. In 2005, he earned €438,245 in medical card fees alone. Link.

Another random (or not) political fact, She who must not be named, also from the college of psychiatry of Ireland, who was at Shane’s Inquest and has had “issues” with the verdict since she voiced her opinion on RTE afterwards, is reported by the Irish Independent to be instrumental in the nomination of Mary McAleese for president.

A few days after a visit to Knock, Mary (McAleese) phoned Patricia Casey, with whom she had become friendly after their appearance on The Late Late Show. Casey was prepared to  use her considerable influence on Mary’s behalf. The Cork-born psychiatrist was well-placed to exert some influence on the Fianna Fail organisation. Patricia Casey contacted the Wicklow TD, Dick Roche, for whom she had canvassed in the previous election. Link.

Why, you might ask, am I going in this direction? Mary McAleese is the patron of “the Irish Association of suicidology” and when I wrote to her asking for an investigation into these drugs, she replied that she was “prevented from intervening in matters which are the responsibility of the government”.


Update,  22/07/2011

Sent the IMC an e-mail to see what the outcome was yesterday…No response.

Update 27/07/2011


Update 10/10/2011

The Irish Medical Council decided not to give me a copy of Professor Cowen’s report, now there’s a surprise! Wonder why? They had a copy of Professor Healy’s report that said, in his opinion Lundbeck’s Citalopram had made Shane suicidal and homicidal and they had Professor Cowen’s report which said what?? Considering the dire possible consequences to other consumers of ssri’s and the medical council’s job to protect people from dangerous medical situations, Professor Cowen’s report must have been very convincing. His expertise must have been superior to Professor Healy’s. His links to Lundbeck are easy to find on the Internet but his expert ssri qualifications are not!

 The second letter states that the Irish Medical Council are not taking my complaint any further because there is insufficient cause to warrant further action.  So the medical council’s job is to protect people from harm and they think it’s o.k for medical professionals to hand out a months supply of potentially fatal medication with known risks of suicide ideation, to already vulnerable patients? In my opinion, the Medical Council didn’t do it’s job!

5 thoughts on “Update on our complaint to the Irish Medical Council.”

  1. This does not surprise me in the least. The Medical Council are as dysfunctional as every other institution in this country and maintaining the status quo by closing ranks and looking after their own is standard practice. No doubt in twenty years time we will have an Oireachtas Committee looking into this and compensation will be handed to out to those who suffered or their families. If it suits them politically the same people who defend the current position on the use of antidepressants will be up in arms saying ‘oh how shocking that this happened’ or ‘we didn’t know’: the Neary scandal; the Lindsay Tribunal, the Magdalene laundries, institutional abuse the list goes on and on.

    The fact is that plenty of people knew about all of those situations and plenty of people within the medical profession know about the damage that these medications cause but there is no way they are going to admit any liability for fear of opening up the floodgates to claims of compensation and have their practices questioned and/or losing their cashcow.

    I have had conversations with three pharmacists in the past few months all who have expressed concern at the increase in the number of psychoactive drugs they are dispensing in the past few years and also that patients are rarely properly informed as to the possible side effects by their doctors. One in particular told me he was shocked at the amount of medications being prescribed to children.You know there is something very seriously wrong when drugs are these people’s bread and butter and they are more concerned than the medical profession about the potential harm they can do.

    I’m really sorry you’ve been treated this way Leonie, is there any way you can request a copy of Professor Cowen’s report under the Freedom of Information Act in the public interest?


    1. Hi Rose,
      Nope I don’t think so, they have that one well sown up….

      FOI recognises an individual’s right to privacy. Equally there are situations where it would not be in the public interest to release certain records. The FOI Act sets out various categories of records which are exempt from disclosure. These exemptions relate to the following types of records;

      Personal Information
      Information obtained in confidence
      Deliberations of public bodies
      Commercially sensitive information

      “No doubt in twenty years time we will have an Oireachtas Committee looking into this and compensation will be handed to out to those who suffered or their families”.

      And I can tell you this will happen but they will be told in no uncertain terms to shove it as far up their Oireachtas…Sorry if that sounds humourous, I see no humour in this but I have no doubt that when this scandal does errupt, It will be said “Why did nobody warn us?” and nobody will be able to say that Myself and Tony were not shouting it from the rooftops. Even the president (who by the way, is the patron of the Irish association of suicidology) can’t say she didn’t know because I have her e-mails to prove it or the useless Irish Medicines Board who have done nothing except take drug company money for licencing their drugs!


  2. Humour is the thing that helps us survive, that and knowledge.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, you’re saving lives, sooner or later people will start to listen.


  3. Having Professor Philip Cowen from Oxford University provide a report as an independent third party is a contradiction. How can someone who has received money from so many drug companies be independent?

    It’s like having the fox guard the hen house.


    1. You’re so right Julian, it’s exactly like that and in the meantime more and more people of all ages (not just young people) will die from the side effects of these drugs, including suicide ideation, and the failure to warn from the IMB.
      Actually the IMB, in my opinion, are among the foxes that are supposed to be protecting the hens!


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