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Medical Council Letter

I have a funny feeling that I’m wasting my breath here. Will I be ignored? Probably! The President of the Medical Council is a member of the Irish College of Psychiatry. As I’ve said before, the Irish College involved themselves before, during and after Shane’s Inquest. The College have collectively made their opinion clear here.

Ref: D108/10

To whom it concerns,

Thank you for the Freedom of Information documents. Having now received access to Professor Cowen’s report, I have some queries regarding the decision of the Medical Council that there was ‘not sufficient cause’ to take my complaint further.

Professor Cowen states in his report that he ‘did not have experience of what would be regarded as the appropriate standard of practice for General Practitioners’ but this was considered sufficient for the Medical Council? Roslyn Whelan advised Professor Cowen that his opinion was being sought regarding his expertise in Psychopharmacology. I find it astonishing, that when I corresponded with Professor cowen, he answered questions regarding SSRI’s and Citalopram in particular that you never thought to ask.

When asked by me if the drug could have caused the events of Aug 09, he answered: “I do think it’s possible that in some circumstances SSRIs can lead to people behaving violently to themselves and others. It seems that the risk is apparent early in the course of treatment, particularly in younger people, and that’s why the NICE guidelines stress the importance of careful follow-up early in the antidepressant treatment of young, at risk patients. From this point of view Shane should have had weekly follow-up after the start of SSRI treatment.”

He further opined on the question of whether Citalopram could have contributed to or caused Shane to commit suicide and homicide? “It’s certainly possible. Leonie. What I was trying to say is that the judgment has to be made on an individual basis in the light of all the facts, and I know very little about what happened after the appointment with Dr Coetzee. However, it looks as though David Healy has looked carefully at the circumstances for the inquest and he is an expert at these kinds of assessments.”

So the Irish Medical Council’s own expert admits that these drugs can cause suicide and homicide and you didn’t have ‘sufficient cause’ to investigate further? He further admits that he didn’t have enough facts to deal with this case but acknowledged that Professor Healy did and that he is the expert in this area. The IMC had both reports so how did you come to the conclusion that there was ‘not sufficient cause’ to take further action?

Your purpose is to protect the public from the same circumstances recurring; could you tell me how you are protecting the public from another drug-induced incident, namely suicide and/or homicide?


Leonie Fennell

6 thoughts on “Medical Council Letter”

  1. Well done for writing to them Leonie.

    I’d love to know why they or the ICGP don’t produce guidelines/literature and/or training for doctors on how to deal with adverse reactions. They seem to have basic guidelines on how to diagnose and treat mental health issues which are limited to 1) consider a differential diagnosis 2) try these drugs 3) refer to a psychiatrist. Not much help if they go straight to 2) and don’t know how to recognise a problem when it occurs.


    1. I don’t know Rose…it’s probably that if they do implement guidelines for people who are suffering from an adverse reaction, then it will have to be acknowledged that there is a problem with the drugs! Then the Irish College of Psychiatry will look even more ridiculous or just plain corrupt.


  2. You’re right of course Leonie and the way to get around this would be for legislation to require them to do so but going back to what I said about direct foreign investment I can’t see that happening.

    Interesting article in today’s Irish Times about the level of influence of political lobbying in legislation. Wonder how much influence pharma had on that 2007 report on adverse side effects being shelved?


  3. Well Rose, You do realise that Frank Dunlop was employed by Merck at one stage?
    Do you think it stopped there…no way! The media reports surrounding the GSK scandal are all about the corruption in America, paying for doctors to promote their products…do people really believe that it doesn’t go on here? Doctors promoting these drugs for huge payments, when they know the same drugs can have terrible adverse-effects, including death? Still waiting of course for the IMB to make their conflicts of Interests made public!! Must send them an e-mail.


  4. The Irish pharmaceutical industry, high level Irish academic doctors,Irish psychiatrists, regulators and the Irish Medical Council suffer from a deeply entrenched and deluded malaise…. It’s called ‘revolving door syndrome’.


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