Does anybody actually care about the conflict of interests which exist between the medical professionals and drug companies? Just suppose these inherent conflict of interests, particularly within the ‘mental health’ field, are actually causing many deaths, not curtailing them? Will it matter then?
Nessa Childers tweeted today “Call to action?: Mental illness can reduce life expectancy more than smoking” and added a link to this article. The article concerned the reduction of life expectancy in people suffering from ‘mental illness’. Excerpt below:
“The researchers found the average reduction in life expectancy in people with bipolar disorder is between nine and 20 years. It is 10 to 20 years for schizophrenia, nine and 24 years for drug and alcohol abuse, and around seven to 11 years for recurrent depression. This was due to “high-risk behaviours” in psychiatric patients including drug abuse and suicide.”
The article was published on the ‘BlackDogTribe’ website which then linked to Sane, a self-professed ‘leading UK mental health charity’. In December 2012 Sane acquired the BlackDogTribe website, amalgamating both. Sane is supported by Lundbeck pharmaceuticals that happen to make drugs for both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
The article quoted Mark Winstanley of ‘Rethink Mental Illness’ who said it was “a scandal that people with mental illness are at risk of dying 20 years younger than average, because of preventable physical health problems”. Rethink Mental Illness is incidentally also supported by Lundbeck pharmaceuticals.
Dr Seena Fazel from Oxford University said that these deaths were due to “high-risk behaviours in psychiatric patients including drug abuse and suicide”. Dr Fazel was a speaker at the 2012 SIRS (Schizophrenia International Research Society) conference, sponsored by the usual pharmaceutical companies: Lundbeck, Lilly, Pfizer Et cetera. He delared no conflict of interest, so I guess he must have been speaking pro bono and must have paid his own air fares to Florence. He also spoke at last months SIRS conference (April 2014), again in Florence. Interestingly Dr Fazel was one of the medical professionals who recently put his name to a letter defending psychiatric drugs. This came in the wake of the CEP (Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry) publicly stating that psychiatric drugs are causing death, illness and in fact doing more harm than good. Incidentally, two of Dr Fazel’s literary colleagues, Professors Guy Goodwin and David Nutt, appeared in the recent Panorama programme ‘Who’s Paying Your Doctor?’
What the CEP are saying, is that the increasing deaths are due to the drugs and not the illness. David Healy et al have been saying the same thing for a long time; here’s an excerpt from his blog on schizophrenia:
“Patients with schizophrenia are 10 times more likely to be dead at the end of the first year of treatment than they were 100 years ago. There is no other illness in medicine where such a statement could be made… So what causes the suicides? The evidence points to the antipsychotics. In placebo controlled double blind trials these drugs show an excess of suicides and suicidal acts with drugs like Zyprexa having the highest suicide and suicidal act rate in clinical trial history. This is good news because if most deaths in young people with schizophrenia come from suicide and the antipsychotics make a contribution to this, there is an opportunity to correct the problem. The problem almost certainly stems from drug induced dysphoria. Patients are not on the right drug for them.”
Is it really incidental that the medical professionals and mental health charities who are reliant on pharma funding, blame the illness and defend the drugs? Is it further coincidental that independent researchers and academics have concluded that it is in fact the drugs that are causing the deaths.
Does the conflict of interest really not matter, or will it only become an issue when you find the dead and lifeless body of your much loved son, daughter or sibling? I know who I’d believe.