Dr No: No, doctors don’t Know…

Depressed DoctorToday’s Irish Independent reported on the tragic deaths of two young doctors from Tallaght Hospital. The two junior doctors had died by ‘their own hand’ in the past six months.

The article raises concerns about the ‘high-pressure and stressful work environments in the country’s hospitals’. The article states that ‘doctor support services’ have warned that the deaths are not isolated incidents and urged medics to seek help rather than self-treat when they are sick. Dr Ide Delargy, said: “Doctors don’t tend to come forward for treatment at the moment. They tend to self-treat and self-medicate…”

Is anyone, apart from me, seeing a totally different perspective here? Doctors are bombarded from a early stage in their training with pharmaceutical company funding and drug company spiel. Medical students and young doctors are more likely to believe what the ‘friendly’ drug company sales rep is saying; the sales rep’s objective is to convince the medical professionals that their drugs are ‘safe and effective’. As we all know, that’s not always true; perhaps more often than not, untrue and a downright lie.

As we now know, most of the large pharmaceutical companies have been slapped with hefty fines for wrongdoing and fraudulent marketing, some amounting to billions; take a bow GSK, Pfizer, Abbott, Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly. John Virapen, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 35 years, mostly for Eli Lilly, but with various others including Lundbeck, has said the sales reps are taught to persuade, bribe and use whatever it takes to get these (often dangerous) drugs prescribed. He readily admitted to bribing the Swedish government in order to get Eli Lilly’s Prozac past the licencing process. He also said, in the case of SSRIs, that reps were aware that these drugs were causing people to kill themselves and others but they were told to keep quiet.

My point is that these young doctors are victims of pharmaceutical industry propaganda. They believe that these so called ANTIdepressants will do exactly what it says on the tin. Yes, I’m aware that these drugs work for some people, and whether or not that’s because of the placebo effect hardly matters; If they work for you, that’s great. In many, many cases though, the word ‘ANTIdepressant’ is false advertising at its very worst, as these drugs at least double the risk of suicide upon starting, discontinuing and change of dosage (up or down). In the US, after accidents, suicide is the most common cause of death among medical students. It seems that there are problems here in Ireland too with self medicating. Unless the media (against the recommended guidelines it has to be said) actively report on the circumstances surrounding a person who has died by their own hand, we might never know if the drugs played a part. From what I have observed in over 3 years of researching, my opinion is that the majority of people who die by suicide have been on one antidepressant or another at the time leading up to their deaths. False advertising? For these people, ‘depressant’ would have been a better word.

Ex Pharmaceutical Rep John Virapen: “I became the General Manager of Eli Lilly & Company in Sweden and later worked for global players such as Novo Nordisk and Lundbeck from Denmark. As far as the product range goes: sometimes it was wonder pills against arthritis, or the human insulin scandal, or rejuvenating cures (growth hormones), and finally the new psychotropic family of Selective Serotonin Reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are wrongly called mood lifters. These drugs are anything but that. They drive people to suicide or to kill others.” (Preface Page ix) Free download of John Virapen’s brilliant book Side Effects Death’.

BMJ, British Medical Journal: Doctors’ self prescribing.

Dr Janet Wreglesworth was prescribed Cipramil/Celexa in Nov 07. She was dead by Feb 08.

Dr Mark Gradwell diagnosed himself with “full blown clinical depression” and was prescribed anti-depressants.

Console.ie/2012 “In the year prior to death, 81% (of suicide victims) had been in contact with their GP or a mental health service. Among those who had been in contact with the GP, the majority (67.4) had done so 4 times or more during the year prior to death.” Link

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9 thoughts on “Dr No: No, doctors don’t Know…

  1. In your last post the David Healy video around 21.30mins explains that doctors will fail their exams if they say there is any risk with the newer antidepressants (SSRI +1). So possibly young medical students who are overworked, tired and stressed may now actually believe the drugs to be safe and effective. That can’t be good for the medical students or their future patients.

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  2. I don’t think you can know what happened with these 2 tragic cases.

    Severe stress, coupled with a range of other factors, including mental exhaustion from working long hours would be more likely causes. Suicide is not uncommon in all medical professionals, and this has been know for many years, before the marketing of SSRI
    http://cebmh.warne.ox.ac.uk/csr/resdoctors.html

    1 worked in Surgery, so had ZERO chance of coming into contact with a Salesperson for an antidepressant medication.

    Doctors probably are slow to come forward for treatment for any illness, not just depression. They are more likely to self-medicate with high doses of alcohol rather than self prescribe SSRI or other drugs.

    Medical Students will be asked about the risk of death from overdose of psychiatric drugs, of which, an overdose of SSRI has a smaller chance of causing death acutely than tricyclic antidepressants for instance.

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    1. Hi Jim,

      The first SSRI ‘Zelmid’ was launched in Europe in 1982: http://www.healyprozac.com/book/introduction.pdf

      While I agree we do not know what happened with these 2 tragic cases, that is exactly my point! Unless the media report on the Inquests of all self-inflicted deaths, we will never know whether the drugs caused their deaths.

      These 2 cases are a tiny fraction of the reported self inflicted deaths of medical professionals. There are plenty of further cases (which are reported) which confirm the presence of an antidepressant at the time of a self inflicted death.

      Your point about medical students asking about the risks of death from SSRIs is a moot point. While they may be slightly safer in overdose than TCAs, they can still kill a person with a relatively small overdose. For example; the normally prescribed dose of 28 pills can sometimes be fatal. Why not just give a suicidal person a gun and be done with it?

      I would also argue that while self medicating with alcohol is quite normal in stressful professions, not just in the medical profession, a bottle of alcohol does not come with suicide, violence, mania and worsening depression attached as a possible adverse effect.

      While you say you never came into contact with a drug rep in surgery; what has that got to do with your medical training? Have you or your colleagues never been to an industry sponsored training day? Never availed of the free lunch with the free pharma spiel?

      As I have already said, in my experience, from what I have observed in the last 3 years, the majority of people who die by suicide have been on one antidepressant or another at the time leading up to their deaths.

      Leonie

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      1. Just to clarify –

        I meant that 1 (one) of the doctors was working in the surgical department, and therefore very unlikely to come in contact with salespeople for drugs, in particular anti-depressants- therefore less likely to be a victim of drug company propaganda.

        Alcohol abuse certainly is associated with suicide, violence and worsening depression.

        Ask any doctor or nurse who works in an emergency department, they will tell you that overdose of SSRI is uncommon and much easier to treat than the older medications used for depression.

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    2. Mr Higgs; Why is it that the offense of Battery when committed by a Doctor is usually settled as a Civil Tort for monetary damages whereas a Battery committed by a Non-Doctor/Non-Medical worker is prosecuted as a Crime of Violence carrying time in jail or prison?

      You’ve brought forward the abuse of alcohol by surgeons. Please explain to me Why it’s malpractice/insurance pay outs when a Drunk in surgery kills someone, but negligent homicide when a Drunken Non-Medical worker kills someone.

      http://psychroaches.blogspot.com/2012/02/study-15-of-surgeons-abuse-alcohol.html
      http://psychroaches.blogspot.com/2009/04/mental-health-now-with-free-alcoholism.html

      Please explain this following, seeming contradiction.

      “The article states that ‘doctor support services’ have warned that the deaths are not isolated incidents and urged medics to seek help rather than self-treat when they are sick. Dr Ide Delargy, said: “Doctors don’t tend to come forward for treatment at the moment. They tend to self-treat and self-medicate…”

      As Doctors, weren’t these 2 people in a better position than the lay public to Know their co-professional Medical Workers, IE: “Doctor Support Services” Mental Health workers?

      Here’s the actual Why of it:

      Doctors don’t tend to come forward at the moment precisely because they DO know exactly what Psychiatrists and other Mental Health workers are: utter incompetents with Nothing of value to offer in trade for legislatively binding pronouncements that anyone who seeks that “Help” are themselves an Incurable Incompetent not just in their professional capacity but in All walks of life, 24/7, along with the Same drugs these 2 Doctors killed themselves with.

      Medical Workers don’t want to be Slimed by Mental Health, and their Trade Guilds have bought them extra legal protection to Keep them in Business with Surgeons committing Battery, Aggravated Battery, and Negligent Homicide in the Operating Room while they are under the Influence of alcohol.

      http://psychroaches.blogspot.com/search/label/California%20Diversion%20Programs

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  3. Jim,
    Whether a medical doctor or nurse ends up in the surgical department is irrelevant. The fact is that they have already been subjected to ‘industry’ propaganda from the early stages of training onwards. I am not suggesting that that is their fault, or they are somehow to blame, just that it’s a fact.

    I have spoken to doctors and nurses and they have told me SSRI overdoses are very common. Maybe the Coroners are better people to ask? The overdose victims are probably more likely to end up in the morgue.

    As I have stated before: Dr Declan Gilsenan, an assistant State Pathologist for over 30 years, who has done over 5,000 autopsies, feels that SSRIs are driving people to suicide. He spoke of 5 recent autopsies that he performed (on suicide victims), 4 had been recently introduced to SSRIs. I would think that he’s the most qualified expert. If you want to argue your case with him, go ahead. You’re entitled to your opinion, even if it’s wrong!

    Leonie

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    1. To relate these 2cases to antidepressants without knowing anything about these two sad cases is disrespect the bereaved and abuse there death for your own purposes ,your basing your point on speculation this undermines your whole argument stick to facts you know and let these 2 doctors rest in peace

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      1. Hi Paddy,

        Just to clarify, the article in the Irish Independent which I was referring to touched on doctors ‘self treating’…

        “Meanwhile, doctor support services have warned that the deaths are not isolated incidents and urged medics to seek help rather than self-treat when they are sick. Chairwoman of the Sick Doctor Scheme, Dr Ide Delargy, said: Doctors don’t tend to come forward for treatment at the moment. They tend to self-treat and self-medicate and self-refer. Then, unfortunately, they try to deal with the problems on their own and in isolation and then you have tragedies like what you had recently. And unfortunately these are not isolated incidents. They are recent but we would know of quite a few other cases.”

        I think that these two doctors and their families would have a better chance of ‘resting in peace’ if they knew exactly how these deaths were caused. The inquests will determine the cause, but whether antidepressants were a factor and whether that will be explored is anyone’s guess. This blog is about my opinion so, sorry you don’t agree but I haven’t changed my views. Disrespecting the bereaved? I disagree, but if any of their family members held that view, I would instantly take it down! As yet, that hasn’t happened.

        Leonie

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