How much collateral damage is too much?
So, assuming we never believed the pharmaceutical hype that depressants/antidepressants did what they said on the tin, where would Shane be now? Would he be a teacher now, or would he, like other desperate Irish college graduates, be half way across the world in Australia or New Zealand?
So what have we done to warn other people since Shane has died? Apart from the IHRC making recommendations to the Irish Medical Council regarding the prescribing and side effects of SSRI’s, Link, we have also written to the relevant Ministers detailing our concerns.
On October 1st, a former Miniser, who has serious concerns regarding the side-effects and over-prescribing of SSRI’s, requested a meeting with the current Minister for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch. Myself, Tony, the former Minister and an SSRI expert wanted to meet with the current Minister to voice our concerns. On the 21th of October, ALMOST 4 MONTHS AGO, we received a reply stating that “Kathleen Lynch T.D., Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People has asked me to acknowledge receipt of your recent invitation to her…further reply will issue as soon as possible.”
So being the patient person that I am, 4 months was long enough and considering the Government was put in place to represent the people, which presumably includes me, I sent her off another E-mail on Friday 17th Feb. Armed with another professional, a Pathologist, who has serious concerns about SSRI’s, who is also willing to meet her and who incidentally is not receiving honoraria from ‘industry’, I’m sure she’ll get her finger out? Or am I supposed to wait for another 3 1/2 years till another Minister for Mental health is elected and will again ignore the SSRI issue?
So tell me, if you were the Minister for Mental Health, would you think this information was important?
Excerpt from my E-mail to Kathleen Lynch T.D., Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People…
“I spoke to an Irish Pathologist who would also be interested in attending and sharing his concerns. He also has serious concerns regarding the number of Autopsies he has carried out on people who have just started these drugs and within a short space of time, have gone on to commit suicide. At the time I was speaking to him he had just performed six autopsies, five were suicide victims; four had recently been introduced to SSRI’s. There seems to be a major problem here in this country and something will have to be done to stop more deaths.”
How many more people will die before this issue is addressed? Is the fact that the pharmaceutical industry is propping up the Irish economy an issue here? How much collateral damage is acceptable before the Minister will be shamed into tackling the issue? How many more deaths as a result of prescribed medication will make it unacceptable?
An Excerpt from Professor Healy’s notes from his Cork speech…
“Two recent inquests in which I gave evidence bring out the deeper problems. One was Shane Clancy’s inquest in April 2010. This young man put on citalopram had a classic adverse reaction to it, becoming suicidal early on. His doctor continued the treatment and a few weeks after starting treatment he killed himself and another young man in terrible circumstances. The deaths bore all the stigmata of SSRI induced problems. I gave testimony to this effect at his inquest and the jury agreed that it was not possible to return verdicts of suicide (and by extension homicide).
Some of the senior Irish Cardinals (psychiatrists) got involved in the case – engaging the media and others before, during and after the case, stating that antidepressants came with no problems and that the tragedy in this case would be if publicity led to a drop in the use of antidepressants. The Irish College were pressed into making a statement supporting the use of antidepressants.
The reaction from a retired senior academic was as follows: ―I am afraid I agree with Healy – the College is plain wrong. There is no such thing as a college statement which is circulated to the membership simultaneous with its publication, without opportunity for comment or vote and “in unison” with a body 100% financed by drug companies, and with personal hostile references to expert testimony at an inquest with families still in grief. And this on the heels of a dreadful multiprofessorial letter even before the inquest began. Extraordinary and outside my experience. If I were not retired I’d dissociate and publicly resign.
The second case involved Yvonne Woodley a woman in her early 40s also put on citalopram who had a classic case of treatment induced agitation that worsened as her dose was increased to the point where she hung herself in her house with her children downstairs.
In this case as in the Clancy case, company spokespeople insisted that they did not believe citalopram had contributed to the problem and gave the impression that they did not believe it could contribute to the problem.
The coroner however asked the medical representative for the company – can your drug cause people to commit suicide? In response to this Dr Chris Muldoon had no option but to agree it could.
Companies are legally obliged to agree that their drugs cause people to commit suicide. Our Cardinals are not legally obliged. And here is where they offer one of the greatest services they can to companies – they can and regularly do offer Apologias for industry. They have become industry’s way around the law and any moral code that may apply in this domain. They state in public that not only did the drugs not cause a problem in the Clancy or Woodley cases but that they cannot cause a problem. Done behind closed doors this behaviour is one thing; taking the issue to the media is quite another.
At the height of the controversy about antidepressants and suicide in children in 2004, when US regulators issued a black box warning on the drugs, the American Psychiatric Association issued a suicide note. They stated ―The American Psychiatric Association believes that antidepressants save lives. If the drugs work well and are free of problems given how much psychiatrists cost to employ, it would be better for health systems to employ nurses or pharmacists who can prescribe. APA should have said ―The American Psychiatric Association believes that Psychiatrists save lives.
The Irish College has made a comparable mistake. Doctors need to wake up to the politics of the situation.
Some of you here might like to see the demise of Irish psychiatry, maybe even Irish medicine. This talk is however delivered in the hope that psychiatrists and doctors can save themselves, in the belief that we are better off with good doctors than without.” Notes here.