Adverse Reaction to SSRIs, Iatrogenesis, psychiatry

Get the Hippocratical Boat

The Zebra

Earlier this year, a formal complaint was submitted to the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych) against its president Wendy Burn, and David Baldwin (Chair of its Psychopharmacology Committee).  The complaint stated that Professors Burns and Baldwin (in a letter published by The Times in February),  misled the public over antidepressant withdrawal by falsely stating that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment. Signed by 30 high profile medics (including Irish psychiatrist Pat Bracken) and people with lived experiences, the complaint stated that the latter is incorrect, not evidence-based and is misleading the public on an important matter of public safety – with potentially hazardous consequences. One only has to read a fraction of the damage caused by the RCPsych’s ‘discontinuation’ stance to see the harm caused to unsuspecting consumers – see James Moore for a prime example.

Sadly (for me at least), psychiatry from The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) are equally irresponsible in providing misinformation to the public, with their ‘mental health difficulties are chemical imbalances in your brain’ tripe (I have addressed this before). Despite much ridicule and requests to retract this unfounded and equally dangerous statement, this public declaration by Ireland’s largest medical school is still available in all its inglorious glory on Twitter. This is a false and very dangerous message to give to vulnerable people, mainly because it gives the impression that only drugs can fix this ‘imbalance’. Indeed, the ‘imbalance’ belief can also have a detrimental affect on one’s personal autonomy, as it implies that external factors such as behavior or life changes will not improve our mental health – as the ‘inherent fault’ in our brains or character is at issue. Indeed, Dr Terry Lynch from Limerick even wrote a book about it, and very informative it is too (not biased at all, at all – although, I was happy to get a mention).

While the RCPsych and RCSI are not alone in providing misinformation to the masses, they are a fundamental part of the problem and complicit in causing harm. Indeed, psychotropic drugs (including widely-prescribed antidepressants and benzodiazepines) that target our mood, the way we feel, the way we think, are still largely hailed as ‘safe’. While some seem to tolerate these drugs with little adverse effects, others find the opposite, with disastrous, sometimes fatal, consequences. Violence is just one of the bizarre effects that can be caused by taking a drug commonly prescribed by one’s friendly GP. While drug companies have warned of reports of antidepressant-induced violent behavior, such as harm to ones-self and others, GPs and Psychiatry still seem oblivious to the dangers. No Zebras in their line of vision, no siree doc.

For example, a ‘Dear Doctor’ Letter sent to healthcare professionals in 2004 can be viewed here. It includes the following:

There are clinical trial and post-marketing reports with SSRIs and other newer antidepressants, in both pediatrics and adults, of severe agitation-type adverse events coupled with self-harm or harm to others. The agitation-type events include:
akathisia, agitation, disinhibition, emotional lability, hostility, aggression,
depersonalization.

No doubt the friendly GP didn’t include THAT in his sales pitch for the ‘mild antidepressant’ he/she was prescribing. Indeed, iatrogenesis, however well-intentioned, doesn’t change the outcome and as we have seen with the RCPsych and the RCSI, the legalities of Informed Consent is still seemingly a very far-off concept. As for a drug that is specifically targeted at one’s emotions, mood and behavior – what could possibly go wrong? See the aforementioned zebra.

So, one wonders what disastrous drug-induced effect will be revealed to the public next? My money (and my RCSI Thesis) is on sex – see the RxISK website. Josephine/Joe, I foresee a more permanent problem.

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Granddad Peter – Evil Perpetrator or Equally Innocent Victim?

Peter Miles

Ireland has seen far too many murder-suicides for such a small country – with much discussion and no easy answers.  The usual knee-jerk reaction of ‘evil bas**rd’ hasn’t helped to solve these cases or indeed, stop any future cases of familial annihilation. Psychiatry will often blame the ‘underlying mental illness’ of the perpetrator, whether or not there was any evidence pointing to historical psychiatric issues. Suggestions that a prescribed drug or drugs may have played a part are shut down with scorn, despite effects such as suicide, violence and emotional blunting listed in the PILs (Patient Information Leaflets). Indeed, ever since SSRI antidepressants (Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors) were introduced to the masses, murder-suicide cases thought to be drug-induced have consistently surfaced, leaving a global trail of ssri-induced destruction that has lingered for decades – see SSRI-Stories.

From the 1993 case of William Forsyth Sr., who killed his wife and himself 2 weeks after being prescribed fluoxetine (aka Prozac), to Donald Schell, a 60 year-old granddadd who took 2 paroxetine pills (aka Seroxat and Paxil) before fatally shooting his wife, daughter, 9-month-old granddaughter and himself (1998). In the Schell case, paroxetine was found to be 80% responsible and GlaxoSmithKline ordered to pay $6.4m to the family’s surviving relatives – yet still people find it hard to accept that a drug prescribed by a friendly GP could cause such harm.

Nevertheless, similarities include a recent antidepressant prescription (or dosage change), with ‘out of the blue’, ‘out of character’, ‘restlessness’ and ’emotional blunting’ among other common threads. Friends might express their shock and attest to a ‘down to earth’, ‘cheerful and chatty’, ‘all round good guy (or woman)’ or ‘respected member of the community’ whose actions ‘were completely out of character’.

Tragically, the latest case in Margaret River, Australia, seems to fit an SSRI-induced profile.  Yesterday, Perth’s version of the Sunday Times published an article titled Margaret River massacre: Depression drug clue to grandfather’s murder of family. Like Donald Schell, Peter Miles, a 61 year-old granddad, had recently started taking an antidepressant(s) – mere weeks before he fatally shot his wife, daughter and four grandchildren. According to the article, close friends of this highly regarded granddad now suspect that the drug he was prescribed may have triggered or worsened ‘homicidal and suicidal thoughts’. One friend said:

Cynda told us Peter had gone onto antidepressants in the last few weeks. I feel for the sake of society that these mind-altering drugs should be exposed as dangerous.

The article also pointed out that while friends of Mr Miles stressed they did not know which type of antidepressant he had been prescribed, they have ‘genuine fears’ it may have been an SSRI – pointing to claims that in rare cases they can contribute to extreme violence, murder and suicide. The article concluded with the following:

For Ms Winfield, the SSRI theory, while not proven, is the most plausible. “Nothing else explains it,” she said. “This was a lovely man whose family was everything to him. I don’t know when the depression set in, but I’m really sad it hit him so hard and I’m sure the medication was a part of it.”

So, before a drug-induced annihilation is dismissed out of hand, be informed, before, BEFORE, BEFORE it happens to someone you love. As many of us will attest to, dead is irreversibly dead and no amount of blame or vindication will bring our loved ones back. One point that is never fully addressed – while medics invariably blame an underlying, undiagnosed, mental-illness – why do so many families insist otherwise and not use this relatively ‘get out of jail free’ card?

For expert information in prescribed drugs, see Professors David Healy and Peter Gøtzsche, and RxISK.org.

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Never Mind The Science Bit – The Latest Antidepressant Research is Out.

 

The Magic Psychiatry Pill

Roll up! Roll up! The ‘latest’ antidepressant research is out – ‘Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis’. The revelations by Cipriani et al are indeed startling. The drugs known as ‘antidepressants’ are actually supposed to work. Imagine that? Drugs that have been around for many decades and prescribed in their millions (mostly blockbusters), are thought to work – despite decades of controversy, black box warnings and many, many deaths.

As you might expect, the headlines were indeed wondrous. An Irish Times article provides the headline ‘Antidepressants work for treating depression, study finds’. While the article didn’t provide an author, a tweet by a Times Journalist shared the article, along with the message ‘I take anti-depressants and yes, they work. No shame in saying my brain doesn’t just make enough serotonin’. Jeez – back to the whole feckin serotonin fairytale again. Ireland really needs a medical journalist that can interpret the actual science – move along dears, no Robert Whitaker here..

According to the BBC, The Royal College of Psychiatrists said the study “finally puts to bed the controversy on anti-depressants”. Not surprisingly, the Irish College of Psychiatry also got in on the act, stating this ‘Important research which will also hopefully reduce the stigma around the important place antidepressants can have in the treatment of debilitating depression and reducing misery caused by it to circa 350 million people globally’. No doubt they have evidence for this massive cohort of serotonin-deficient depressives? Or better still, evidence that the drugs they have dished out so liberally over many decades actually work? Clearly, no amount of stigma or controversy should get in the way of prescribing – not even images of our dead loved ones. Sure, aren’t we far too sensitive altogether?

Parking the sarcasm, there were a few chinks of light in the media. I particularly liked a piece by Peter Hitchins from the Mail On Sunday, who wrote –

“We were told last week that researchers had ‘the final answer to the long-lasting controversy about whether antidepressants work for major depression’. I very much doubt it. Not only did the study (of old research, much of it paid for by the drug companies themselves) show very limited success for these pills. We are only just beginning to scrape the surface of what I suspect may be one of the biggest drug scandals of all time. If anyone insists to you that all is well, ask them this: have they had access to the drug companies’ own full testing records?”

Indeed, according to Irish scientist, Dr David Healy – “The Cipriani paper discussed today is junk. It is based on ghostwritten papers with no access to the data. No one – not MHRA or FDA have had access – none of the notional authors of these papers have had access – none can let an independent expert see what the data shows.”

Peter Gøtzsche, co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration was equally clear. He stated –

“This huge systematic review (Cipriani et al 2018) does not add anything to the knowledge we already had about depression pills. Briefly, the effects as estimated on the Hamilton scale are very similar to those reported in a another huge meta-analysis in early 2017 (Jakobsen JC, Katakam KK, Schou A, et al. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors versus placebo in patients with major depressive disorder. A systematic review with meta-analysis and Trial Sequential Analysis… We have done such an analysis based on clinical study reports of placebo-controlled trials we have obtained from European drug regulators (submitted for publication). I will not reveal the details before our results have been published, but our results are very different from those shown in the Lancet paper. The use of clinical study reports is crucial. The manufactures had excluded patients from their analyses, which we were able to include. This is generally not possible for the type of systematic review done by Cipriani et al. So, these results are also flawed and should not be trusted.”

Is it possible that the current debate on whether these drugs actually work or not (however idiotic that may seem considering the enormous number of prescriptions), is being done intentionally to take the spotlight off the emerging issue of antidepressant addiction? Despite vast evidence to the contrary, it seems medics are still largely blind to antidepressant addiction. Nevertheless, a report by the World Health Organisation listed three SSRI antidepressants among the highest-ranking drugs for which drug dependence had ever been reported (fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline). Notably, the WHO report found that using differing terminology, such as replacing ‘withdrawal-syndrome’ with ‘discontinuation-syndrome’, caused conceptual confusion. The report specifically stated that this was intentionally done to avoid associating SSRIs with dependence.

This Cipriani study, despite adding nothing new to science, may effectively be just another distracting hand at work. Nothing that scientists like Professors Healy and Gøtzsche can’t dismiss with relative ease, I’d imagine. Although, whether that will be reflected in the headlines, is anyone’s guess. As balanced as our chemically imbalanced minds?

cipramil (celexa) stories,, Dolin v SmithKline Beecham, Paxil, Seroxat

Dancing to the Piper’s tune..

Pharma funded Sane

What’s wrong with the above image, you might ask? What harm could possibly be drawn from this innocuous, even noble concept? A ‘charity’ with links to a pharmaceutical company extolling the virtues of using psychiatric drugs (that the same company might manufacture) – no conflict here, let’s move along.

Hmm, actually, let’s not. This twitter image was put out by the mental health charity ‘Sane’ – a group ‘partnered‘ by Lundbeck, a Pharmaceutical company that make drugs (of arguable-efficacy) that target depression. In fact, citalopram (sold as Celexa and Cipramil) is an SSRI antidepressant created by Lundbeck – it has been linked to more self-inflicted deaths in the UK than any other SSRI antidepressant. (My son being part of citalopram’s deadly Irish contingent.)

So, a suicide group with links to a pharmaceutical company whose very existence relies on manufacturing depression drugs – drugs that incidentally raise the risk of suicide – what could possibly be the problem? Indeed, this particular image was re-tweeted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, along with the following perspective:

Agreeing to take medication for my mental illness was massive for me. I was so ashamed that I had to take medication to sort my head out. But I’ve finally realised its the same as taking medication for a physical illness – makes you feel better.  

Eh, the fact that it’s the polar opposite to taking meds for a physical illness, could well be seen as a problem. Often likened to a person taking insulin for diabetes, according to Cochrane’s Peter C. Gøtzsche, this analogy is just plain wrong. He states:

When you give insulin to a patient with diabetes, you give something the patient lacks, namely insulin. Since we’ve never been able to demonstrate that a patient with a mental disorder lacks something that people who are not sick don’t lack, it is wrong to use this analogy… Moreover, in contrast to insulin, which just replaces what the patient is short of, and does nothing else, psychotropic drugs have a very wide range of effects throughout the body, many of which are harmful. So, also for this reason, the insulin analogy is extremely misleading.

Indeed, the fact that psychiatry, whose profession is largely reliant on the prescribing of psychotropic drugs, is pushing to end the ‘stigma’ of taking said drugs, could surely be seen as a conflict of interest? One look at an SSRI PIL will show that these commonly prescribed drugs can substantially increase the risk of suicide. In the case of GlaxoSmithKline’s paroxetine (where brand names include Paxil and Seroxat), a court case earlier this year revealed that the risk is actually 8.9% greater than placebo – see Dolin v GSK. However, that there is no mention of the increased risk of suicide with said psychotropics (from either body) is not just conflicting – it’s pretty shameful.

As shown above, ‘mental health charities’ often suggest there is no ‘shame’ in taking ones meds, implying an act of bravery – sure, aren’t the ‘mentally affected’ so feckin brave for taking their prescribed psychotropics? Pardon the sarcasm – I’m not suggesting for a second that a person who chooses to take prescribed medications, for whatever the reason, is deluded. There are many who need prescribed drugs to survive, and those who just feel they need them – that is their right of choice. However, it is a wholly different argument, that while many are dancing to his tune, one should know who’s actually paying the piper. Clearly, there is an underlying issue when we consider that people are medicated to such an extent that pharmaceutical residue is showing up in our rivers and seas – even affecting the way fish behave. Perhaps more disturbing, is that drugs such as steroids, antibiotics, antidepressants, contraceptives etc., are showing up in our drinking water (1).

While a recent English report found that that almost half (48%) of adults are consuming at least one prescription drug – almost a quarter (24%) are taking three or more drugs prescribed to them. The report calculated the total cost of prescriptions dispensed in the community (for 2016 alone), at £9.2 billion.

A very prosperous piper – indeed, one could say that medication is undoubtedly working for him (or her).

 

COLLIER, R. 2012. Swallowing the pharmaceutical waters. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184, 163-164.

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The Dead Don’t Lie – A Message From Beyond

Cause and Effect

A report published this month by ScotSID (Scottish Suicide Information Database) makes for very interesting reading. It specifically looked at deaths by suicide in Scotland between 2009-2015, the deceaseds’ contact with mental health services and more importantly, the psychiatric drugs that were prescribed to them beforehand. Interestingly, I remember (after Shane’s death) trying to find similar information in Ireland, only to be told ah sure, we couldn’t ask families such personal information. It just wouldn’t be right – and sure if the drugs were dangerous, no-one would prescribe them. You think? I’ll park the aul sarcasm there for now. However, contrary to the idea that psychiatric drugs are always safe, an article published this week in an Irish Newspaper told the story of 14-year-old Jake McGill Lynch who died following a prescription for fluoxetine (branded as Prozac). You can read the full story courtesy of the AntiDepAwares here. More information on the bold Stephanie (US and Irish interpretation of bold will suffice here) can be found in my previous blog.

It is important to note that in 2012, in a meeting with Kathleen Lynch (the then Minister for Mental Health), the serious dangers of psychiatric drugs were brought to the Irish Government’s attention. Notably, this was two years after Shane’s death and a full year before Jake McGill Lynch died. At the meeting, retired assistant state pathologist Dr Declan Gilsenan specifically asked for an investigation into all suicide verdicts to see what medications people were prescribed at the time of their deaths. He was concerned that SSRIs could be causing suicides – tragically for Jake, nothing was done.

Anyway, back to the Scottish report. The report notes that while psychiatric drugs are principally used to treat mental health conditions, they are also used for a number of other conditions – such as antidepressants for migraine, chronic pain, etc. It found that, prior to the deaths by suicide, the most common form of recorded contact with the health services was a prescription for a ‘mental health drug’ – 59% of those who died by suicide had been prescribed a psychiatric drug within the previous year, of which the majority (82%) was for an antidepressant. That is a truly scary statistic and one which disproves the widely held belief that ‘antidepressants save lives’. Indeed, it is argued that the opposite is true, that these drugs are causing far more harm than good and in fact, killing many unsuspecting consumers. Thus, the most recent study by Jakobsen et al concluded –

‘SSRIs significantly increase the risk of both serious and non-serious adverse events. The potential small beneficial effects seem to be outweighed by harmful effects.

While we could learn a lot from this new report, the findings are not unique. In fact, a decade beforehand, a report by Swedish journalist Janne Larsson found that of the 1126 Swedish people who had died by suicide in 2007, 64% had been prescribed a psychiatric drug(s) within the previous year. Clearly, Dr Gilsenan’s request for an Irish investigation is long overdue.

Occasionally, the dead can indeed speak.

The Scottish report can be viewed here.

Adverse Reaction to SSRIs, Cases, Featured, Iatrogenesis

Jake’s Amendment Fails. And Yet..

 

Grace McManus, John Lynch, Stephanie Lynch and Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn
Grace McManus, John Lynch, Stephanie Lynch and Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing – Edmund Burke. I know, I know, this quote is painfully overused, but I couldn’t think of a more appropriate one here.

So, yesterday myself (and himself) went to Seanad Éireann (the Irish Senate) to witness the second stage of a bill to amend the Coroner’s Act (called Jake’s Amendment). Jake Lynch is the forever-14 year old child at the centre of all this. His parents, Stephanie and John Lynch, assisted by Senator Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, have worked tirelessly on this bill since 2015 – a proposal to amend the Coroner’s Act to include a verdict of ‘iatrogenic suicide’ (treatment-induced suicide). Sadly, the bill failed at a vote of 12-19. However, there were many surprising elements to yesterday’s Seanad Shenanigans. Firstly, few showed surprise (or denied) that antidepressants can cause suicide; that is a major shift in opinion in a few short years. Secondly, among the senators who voted for Jake’s Amendment, several were willing to put their heads above the parapet and publicly support Jake’s Amendment. Lastly, the only one who argued a ‘causal’ link was the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, and he seemed to be directly quoting from Irish Psychiatry’s statement following Shane’s inquest – so hardly a surprise. Indeed, it seems all may not be lost with him either – as following the vote, he approached Jake’s family and expressed an interest in meeting up to discuss the issue. I have a feeling that little Jake Lynch (and his parents) will make a difference – and I for one, am very proud to call them my friends.

Background:

You may remember that Jake Lynch was a 14 year old boy (diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome) who was prescribed fluoxetine, aka Prozac, to ‘help with his exams’. Five weeks after being precribed fluoxetine (where the dosage was doubled without his or his parents’ knowledge), off-label and with nil informed consent, Jake ended his own life. As his mother Stephanie said – the only thing that changed in his short life was the prescription for fluoxetine. Available literature from the Irish Drug Regulator (the HPRA), provides that ‘Prozac is not for use in children and adolescents under 18’, due to the increased risk of side effects such as ‘suicide attempt, suicidal thoughts and hostility’. However, it provides that in the case of a child aged 8-18 with ‘moderate to severe depression’, a doctor may prescribe it off-label (not licenced for that indication) – if he/she decides it is in the child’s ‘best interest’. While the pros and cons of off-label prescribing have been oft-debated, it should be remembered that Jake did not have depression and was prescribed the drug ‘to help with his junior certificate’. Clearly, as he is now dead, it seems that Prozac proved to be in ‘his worst possible interest’.

Notably, Jake had no history (or diagnosis) of depression and his death came out-of-the-blue to all who knew him – seemingly inexplicable. Indeed, after a long and protracted inquest, the coroner concluded that Jake was not in his right mind on the night he died (resulting from the prescribed fluoxetine) and returned an ‘open’ verdict. This was largely due to an email that Jake sent shortly before he died, saying he felt ‘drugged out of his mind’ and further (demonstrating a shocking lack of consent), he expressed that he was never told that the drug was an antidepressant.

While the Seanad vote was disappointing, it was hardly surprising. Although 12 Senators voted to support the bill, the majority (19) voted against. The general reasoning was that an inquest cannot apportion blame and thus, a prescribing physician might be held accountable (imagine the horror!). However, this was addressed in the proposed bill and was not the intent of Jake’s Amendment. Indeed, this particular reasoning does not explain why ‘medical misadventure’ or ‘unlawful killing’ are permitted – and surely a ‘suicide’ verdict blames the deceased? It was also mentioned that there were other alternatives in circumstances where medical treatment causes harm, such as taking the legal route. However, this failed to consider that in Ireland (and indeed, Europe), taking a case against a pharmaceutical company or medical establishment means that a plaintiff must have the means to meet the costs of the defence if the action fails. Thus, for the majority of plaintiffs with relatively ‘normal’ means (who haven’t won the lotto), a legal action is nigh on impossible. This is not justice.

It was both humbling and inspiring to see ordinary extraordinary family members, stand firm with the courage of their convictions, in the face of any establishment. Senators like David Norris, Francis Black, (the very kind) Maire Devine, Trevor Ó Clochartaigh and Rose Conway-Walsh, were all thoroughly inspiring.

Contraindication?

While Senator (and doctor) James Reilly was among the opposers – it was hardly a revelation. Indeed, he took umbrage with Senator Norris stating that Prozac was contraindicated in ‘those with Aspergers’ – which he said was untrue. Hmm, let’s see, shall we?

Definition of contraindicate – To indicate the inadvisability of something, such as a medical treatment. 

According to a 2010 Cochrane literature review Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for autism spectrum disorders (ASD)’There is no evidence of effect of SSRIs in children and emerging evidence of harm (I have full text if required).

According to the NICE guidelines (section 1.4.22) – Do not use antidepressant medication for the routine management of core symptoms of autism in adults.

And again, per NICE (reviewed in 2016) – Do not use antidepressants for the management of core features of autism in children and young people. 

It seems pretty clear to me that Senator Norris was actually correct when he said that the SSRI prozac was contraindicated for ‘those with Aspergers’. What is not clear, is why Dr Reilly was unaware of the NICE guidelines or the Cochrane review.

So, back to business as usual, the families fight on for justice and Jake, the 14 year old child at the centre of all this, remains irrevocably and needlessly dead. There is little doubt that this is not over – at least until the fat skinny lady sings (aka Stephanie).

The recording of the Seanad can be seen here from 26 minutes and concludes here.

Adverse Reaction to SSRIs, Cases

Panorama – A Prescription for Murder.

This week the BBC aired a Panorama documentary titled ‘A Prescription for Murder’ which has stirred some much-needed debate on the mind-altering effects of SSRIs. The very-astute presenter Shelley Jofre is known for tackling ground-breaking medical-related issues, including ‘Who’s Paying Your Doctor‘ and ‘The Secrets of Seroxat‘. (Due to the circumstances surrounding my son Shane’s death, I make a brief appearance in this documentary. )

As expected, the documentary caused a huge furore, with many defending the antidepressants drugs they take ‘that don’t cause them to become murderers’, accusing Panorama of being irresponsible and increasing the stigma of mental illness. Indeed, psychiatrists came out in their droves with their usual defense of psychotropic drugs, with seemingly no concerns whatsoever of adverse effects – or of their profession’s incestuous relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. The possible stigmatization of the people who suffer from serious and well-documented adverse effects of these prescribed drugs never entered the debate.

Anyway, watch the documentary and see what you think. I will say what I have always said – My lovely son would still be alive if he hadn’t gone to the doctor, whose fateful decision to prescribe citalopram for heartache proved fatal. 17 days after being prescribed the drug, following a series of red-flags that the drug was causing havoc, Shane was dead.

Citalopram is an SSRI antidepressant, sold under the brand names of Cipramil in Europe and Celexa in the U.S.

Sertraline, the SSRI that James Holmes was prescribed, is sold under the brand names of Lustral in Europe and Zoloft in the U.S. It was interesting to hear Delnora Duprey speaking on the programme; In 2001, three weeks after he was prescribed sertraline, Delnora’s grandson Christopher Pittman shot and killed both of his paternal grandparents. Then there was David Carmichael, whose account of his time on Paroxetine (Seroxat/Paxil), leading to the death of his young son, is equally harrowing.

Since their inception and without exception, all the SSRI drugs have been implicated in suicides and extreme violence, including homicide. With drug-company reports of ‘self-harm and harm to others’ and regulatory warnings of suicidality, violence, mania, akathisia, worsening depression, severe withdrawal, long-term sexual dysfunction, birth defects, depersonalization, etc., the stance that these drugs are safe for all is no longer tenable.

For more information, see the available research here, and documentation by AntiDepAware and SSRI Stories.

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Antidepressant Addiction

cropped-cropped-pill.jpg

It always surprises me that while most medics admit that all drugs can have serious adverse effects, when there is an actual victim, consumption of the drug is often supposedly viewed as coincidental. Although antidepressant Patient Information Leaflets and drug regulatory warnings stress of an increased risk of suicidality and aggression when taking these drugs, the continuous victim-denial by the drug industry and leading Key Opinion Leaders (KOPs) is disheartening to say the least.

It seems there is another growing furore surrounding antidepressants; this time its their addictive nature, with consumers’ experiencing withdrawal effects at odds with medical professionals who continuously express that antidepressants do not cause addiction. An article today in the Limerick Leader expressed concerns on the high rate of antidepressant users. It quoted Irish TD (member of Parliament), Maurice Quinlivan, as saying: “People working locally here on drug awareness groups in Limerick tell me that it can be much harder to get young people off of these prescription drugs than heroin as it can be that addictive.” Similarly, on Sky News yesterday, Danny Lee-Frost, head of enforcement at the MHRA (U.K. drug regulator), clarified antidepressant-addiction in no uncertain terms, stating:

“The sleeping pills and antidepressants are a lot more dangerous – They are a lot more addictive, in fact they are highly addictive – That’s the reason why they are prescription only. That changes the game completely – People have committed [sic] suicide as the ultimate resort to try and get off as these are fiercely addictive once you start taking them.”  

Indeed, that the ‘newer’ antidepressants (SSRIs) can be highly addictive has been known for many years and per Peter C. Gøtzsche (Cochrane scientist):

They surely are [addictive] and it is no wonder because they are chemically related to and act like amphetamine. Happy pills are a kind of narcotic on prescription. The worst argument I have heard about the pills not causing dependency is that patients do not require higher doses. Shall we then also believe that cigarettes are not addictive? The vast majority of smokers consume the same number of cigarettes for years.”

15 years ago Dr David Healy spoke of paroxetine withdrawal. He said:

“it was clear from early on that the company [GSK] had recognised that people who had been on this drug even for a relatively brief periods of time could go through withdrawal when they halt it. And they ran healthy volunteer trials to look at this further and found that in some instances up to 85% of the volunteers who had been on this drug for only two or three weeks had withdrawal problems when they halted.”

However, despite experts such as Gøtzsche, Healy and Lee-Frost leaving us in little doubt that antidepressants can indeed be addictive, there seems to be little consensus among medical professionals. Indeed, in Ireland medics have continuously denied that SSRI antidepressants are in any way addictive, with one Irish GP proclaiming on radio – “the drugs themselves are not dangerous, they’re not addictive, they’re not even dangerous at high levels of overdose”. (Notably, not only are SSRI antidepressants addictive, they can also be fatal in overdose; but that’s another story.) Likewise, speaking at a meeting hosted by the drug company Lundbeck, Professor Casey from the Irish College of Psychiatry, said “The outcome for those who get treatment is very good. It is also important to be aware too that antidepressants are not addictive”. 

How can it be that addiction-denial is still commonplace when MHRA, Cochrane and psycho-pharmacological experts are expressing the opposite? And why? Adverse effect denial raises issues of consent and autonomy, neither of which are fulfilled if a consumer doesn’t know what he or she is consenting to. Indeed, rather than antidepressants being innocuously-sounding ‘happy pills’, per McHenry, 2006, attempts to reduce or discontinue SSRIs can cause ‘severe adverse events, such as jolting electric zaps (paraesthesia); confusion; headaches; vomiting; dizziness; nausea; worsening depression; insomnia; irritability; emotional lability, including suicidality, and agitation that, when severe, can resemble a manic episode’. All that, without even delving into the issue that most consumers will have antidepressant-induced sexual problems, ranging from vaginal-dryness to male-impotence.

Part of the problem stems from the word ‘addiction’, which medics seem to have an aversion to, especially when it relates to drugs they widely-prescribe. According to a 2003 WHO report on drug dependence, 3 SSRIs are ‘among the 30 highest-ranking drugs in the list of drugs for which drug dependence has ever been reported’ (to their drug-monitoring database). They are fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Seroxat/Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft/Lustral). The report found that researchers used differing terminology to avoid associating SSRIs with dependence, such as replacing ‘withdrawal-syndrome’ with ‘discontinuation-syndrome’. Considering SSRIs such as fluoxetine (and sometimes sertraline) are prescribed in children and adolescents, it is crucial that the potential for harm is acknowledged.

Thus, Fava et al suggested that while ‘clinicians are familiar with the withdrawal phenomena that may occur from alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, opioids, and stimulants, they need to add SSRIs to the list of drugs that potentially induce withdrawal phenomena. The authors concluded that the term ‘discontinuation syndrome’ minimizes the vulnerabilities induced by SSRIs and thus, it should be replaced by ‘withdrawal syndrome’.

Pretty conclusive I’d say.

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Oliver Hare – Another 22-year-old victim of Citalopram?

OliverOliver Hare, shown above, was a 22-year-old linguist, working in Shanghai. In February of this year he spent a week with his mum in Dubai before returning to his family home in England. Feeling a little lost and unsure of what his goals were, he was anxious about returning to China. His dad told him not to worry, that nobody would force him to go back, but Oliver was worried about the consequences if he didn’t return. The Daily Mail reported that he had previously visited his GP, who diagnosed him with depression and prescribed Citalopram (marketed as Celexa and Cipramil). Oliver started taking the drug this February.  Four days later, on Valentine’s Day 2017, Oliver hanged himself from a window in his family home. The Coroner recorded a suicide verdict, stating “In light of the mood of the deceased that has been described and the manner by which his body was found I am satisfied that he intended to take his own life.”

However, what the Coroner did not mention (or perhaps did not know), was that all SSRI antidepressants, including Citalopram, increase the risk of suicide. There was no mention of the black-box suicide warning that is attached to this drug in the U.S., for young people up to the age of 24. Nor of the European Medicines Agency suicidality warning for under 25s. Perhaps the Coroner was not aware that Citalopram is associated with more self-inflicted deaths than any other antidepressant in the U.K. It seems pointless that SSRI suicide warnings are provided by the various medicines regulators, yet doctors, psychiatrists and Coroners seem oblivious to the risk – and have rarely attributed a person’s self-inflicted death to these widely-prescribed drugs.

As Wendy’s case shows (see previous post), there is little doubt that age is irrelevant when suffering an adverse-reaction to an SSRI, including Citalopram – see here and here. My son Shane, like Oliver, was 22 when he died of a Citalopram-induced death in 2009 – he lasted 17 days on the drug. Incidentally, my friend who runs the AntiDepAware website also wrote about Oliver (here). His son wasn’t much older than Oliver and Shane when he was prescribed Citalopram. Within days of starting the drug, he also died unexpectedly, from SIBSID (a self-inflicted but SSRI-induced death).

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Shane

At one stage I asked many like-minded experts for some SSRI quotes, which, for anyone who’s interested, can be viewed here. However, the last word goes to Mr. Dainius Pūras of The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, whose talk for World Health Day was published last month – titled ‘Depression: Let’s talk about how we address mental health’. The talk concerned the current paradigm of excessive medicalization within mental health and the overuse of biomedical interventions (aka drugs). Among other things, he stated:

“The use of psychotropic medications as the first line treatment for depression and other conditions is, quite simply, unsupported by the evidence. The excessive use of medications and other biomedical interventions, based on a reductive neurobiological paradigm causes more harm than good, undermines the right to health, and must be abandoned.”

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Wendy beats Goliath

So, the trial of our friend Wendy ended earlier today – and guess what, she won. The truth finally prevailed over the malevolent entity that is GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). During the trial we heard how this drug company hid suicide events and misrepresented data that showed Paxil/Seroxat could induce suicide in adults as well as in children. GSK argued that rather than Paxil causing Wendy’s husband to die, it was the work related stress he was under. The jury saw through GSK’s defence and their so-called expert witnesses (one who was paid $165,000 for his testimony), and awarded Wendy $3 million. This vindication for the very charismatic Stewart, makes it a very good day.  Be careful when taking an SSRI antidepressant; this case showed how evidence-based-medicine may not be as scientific as we would all like to believe. Studies done by drug companies with vested interests in the outcomes, now who thought that was a good idea? News article courtesy of Law 360 below..

 

BREAKING: GSK Hit With $3M Verdict For Reed Smith Atty’s Suicide
By Jessica Corso

Law360, Chicago (April 20, 2017, 4:20 PM EDT) — An Illinois federal jury on Thursday found GlaxoSmithKline liable for the death of Reed Smith LLP partner Stewart Dolin and ordered the pharmaceutical giant to pay $3 million to the attorney’s widow, reaching the conclusion that a generic version of GSK’s Paxil caused Dolin to take his own life.

A nine-person jury agreed with Wendy Dolin that her husband had committed suicide in 2010 under the influence of generic paroxetine, an antidepressant sold as brand-named Paxil. (AP)
Following five weeks of trial testimony, the nine-person jury agreed with Wendy Dolin that her husband had committed suicide in 2010 under the influence of generic paroxetine, an antidepressant sold as brand-named Paxil. The jury awarded Dolin $3 million for the loss of income and the emotional distress she’s suffered since her husband ended his life by jumping in front of a Chicago train in the middle of a summer workday.

The verdict is a vindication of Dolin’s belief, expressed in her 2012 lawsuit, that her husband would still be alive if it weren’t for the paroxetine prescription he began taking days before his death.

Dolin said her husband was restless and agitated in the days leading up to his suicide, symptoms of a listed Paxil side effect known as akathisia. GSK denied any link between akathisia and suicide, but the widow said that the side effect sometimes causes people to act out violently and impulsively.

What’s more, the lawsuit claimed that GSK knew about the increased risk of suicide for adults taking paroxetine, particularly in the early days of treatment. Dolin said that the company had hidden data proving the link from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for decades. She testified during the trial that while her husband was sometimes anxious, he had developed coping mechanisms to deal with that anxiety and was seeing a therapist at the time of his death.

GSK sought to pin the blame for Stewart Dolin’s death on his yearslong battle with anxiety, particularly as it revolved around his work as co-chair of Reed Smith’s corporate and securities practice.

Therapy records shown to jurors demonstrated that Dolin had expressed concerns with a therapist in 2007 about Reed Smith scooping up his then-firm Chicago-based Sachnoff & Weaver Ltd. GSK said that Sachnoff was a much smaller, single-office firm and that Dolin had felt unprepared to tackle BigLaw life.

“He didn’t feel qualified to do some of the work,” his then-therapist Sydney Reed said in a video deposition shown to the jury. “He had no experience with international law. He had no experience with giant corporations.”

Though the fears eventually dissipated, a GSK expert who examined the therapy records appeared on the stand during the last days of trial to say that Dolin’s insecurities flared up again in the last months before his death.

The economic downturn had “played havoc” on the corporate and securities practice group, which didn’t meet revenue goals for 2009, according to Dolin’s own review of the year. Because of that, GSK claimed, Reed Smith appointed a younger attorney to co-lead the group with Dolin, 57, who was previously the practice group’s sole leader.

Dolin also received anonymous negative comments on his year-end review and was struggling with a client unhappy with a lawsuit that another Reed Smith partner had filed, University of Massachusetts psychiatry professor Anthony Rothschild told the court.

“In some ways, his nightmare of being inadequate was coming true,” Rothschild said.

But the managing partner at Reed Smith’s Chicago office testified that it wasn’t work that drove Dolin to take his own life.

“He had a challenging week, but we sorted it through,” Mike LoVallo, who said he had known Dolin for decades and considered him a close friend, told the jury.

After he died, “I searched for anything else in his office,” LoVallo said. “I don’t think there was anything work-related that could have caused this.”

Wendy Dolin is represented by R. Brent Wisner, Michael L. Baum, Bijan Esfandiari and Frances M. Phares of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman PC and David Rapoport and Matthew Sims of Rapoport Law Offices PC.

GSK is represented by Andrew T. Bayman, Todd P. Davis, Ursula Henninger and Heather M. Howard of King & Spalding LLP and Alan S. Gilbert and Anders C. Wick of Dentons.

The case is Dolin v. SmithKline Beecham Corp. et al., case number 1:12-cv-06403, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

–Editing by Christine Chun.