GSK’s Dirty Little Secret

Stewart
Dolin v SmithKline Beecham

So, myself and my friend Stephanie were in Chicago this week. We had traveled across the Atlantic to hear the opening arguments of Dolin v. Smithkline Beecham Corp (now GlaxoSmithKline – GSK). For more background to this case, see here.

We arrived straight into an unprecedented weather event, Storm Stella – described in the media as a weather bomb, having undergone bombogenesis (haven’t a clue either). Thus, while we were a little worried that the trial might be postponed, we were more concerned with the liklihood of two Irish females freezing to death. However, despite hitting a cool minus-8, with some pretty bizarre white-out conditions, we survived and the trial went ahead as planned (with the Hon. William T. Hart presiding).

This case centers on Wendy Dolin, the plaintiff, alleging that her husband’s death in 2010 was drug-induced and that GSK failed to warn of the increased risk of suicide in older adults taking the antidepressant Paroxetine. Her lawyers, Baum Hedlund, contend that GSK hid a ‘dirty little secret’ – that the drug can cause akathisia, often coded under the innocuously-sounding ‘inner turmoil’. However, this drug-induced condition is far from harmless and injury to oneself and/or others, can quickly follow. Furthermore, as alleged in this case, it can often prove fatal; see here.

At the time of his death, Stewart Dolin was 57 and was a corporate lawyer with ReidSmith. While suffering from work-related stress, he was prescribed Paroxetine by his physician, Dr. Martin Sachman – a family friend. Paroxetine is perhaps more widely recognised by its trade name Paxil, or Seroxat in Europe. Six days after being prescribed a generic form of the drug, Stewart died by jumping in front of a Chicago train. He was affluent, well-liked by colleagues and well-loved by his family. Per one of his colleagues “Stu Dolin was a close personal friend, valued colleague and a great leader in our firm. His energy and spirit benefited everyone around him. The lawsuit claims that GSK failed to adequately warn doctors (including Dr. Sachman) of the increased risk of suicidal behavior in adults. Indeed, GSK’s opening argument proclaimed that ‘Paxil does not cause suicide’. That was then contradicted by GSK’s very own literature, where a 2006 analysis showed a 6.7 times greater risk of suicidal behaviour in adults (of all ages) taking Paxil, over placebo.

Doctor David Healy was on the stand for 2 full-days, as an expert witness for the plaintiff. His testimony included an account of how GSK had hidden suicide events from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thus manipulating the suicide-ratio and effectively hiding the bodies. Explaining drug-induced suicides to the jury, his world-leading expert status in psychopharmacology was unquestionable. No doubt, GSK ‘s legal team will attempt to annihilate that particular status before he exposes any more ‘dirty little secrets’. Like how 100% of Paxil consumers will experience sexual dysfunction – another life changing adverse-effect he mentioned in court, and another one not precisely admitted to by the manufacturers.

Not surprisingly, GSK’s lawyers (King and Spalding), became increasingly apoplectic, interjecting every few minutes with their objections, which proved fascinating in itself. The last hour before the court adjourned for the week-end proved to be very enlightening indeed, with their team looking increasingly agitated. Doctor Healy was then asked some questions by the plaintiff’s legal team:

(1) Do you have any doubt that Paxil can cause suicide? He answered ‘No’.

(2) In your opinion, did GSK warn doctors of the increased risk of suicide in adults? Again he answered ‘No’.

There seemed little doubt to anyone listening that Paxil could cause Akathisia and/or a drug-induced suicide. However, no doubt GSK will have many experts to refute that, whatever the evidence has shown. Having listened to this week’s testimonies, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Steward Dolin’s death was induced by the Paxil he was taking in the final 6 days of his life. However, the trial will most-likely go on for another few weeks when the jury will ultimately decide. Sadly, as is normal in these legal cases, every aspect of Wendy and Stewart’s private life will be publicly torn to shreds, with their every move dissected to try and put doubt into the jury’s mind. Whatever the outcome, Stewart’s wife Wendy, is one very, very brave lady.

Clearly, GSK’s lawyers are particularly polished and well used to court proceedings. That said, following the jurys’ retirement for the weekend, there was a last minute crucial objection from their legal team. One of their lawyers raised a final grievance – that a lawyer for the plaintiff’s side had the cheek to say ‘have a good weekend’ to the jury. Seriously? Drug induced suicide was the issue here and this farewell gesture caused offence to GSK’s legal team?

Anyway, if you would like to see the three video depositions that were shown to the court; they were uploaded yesterday. You really don’t need to be a body language expert to determine how truthful these GSK experts are being – or not.

GSK Biostatistician John Davies Deposition in Paxil Suicide Case:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9_WvgqYkag
Former Glaxo Executive Jeffrey Dunbar Deposition in Paxil Suicide Case:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5OL0DC4xQE
Damning Testimony from Former GlaxoSmithKline CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier in Paxil Suicide Case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
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Jake’s Mammy on DriveTime

For anyone who hasn’t heard of Jake McGill Lynch, age 14, who died following a prescription for Fluoxetine (Prozac), here’s his mom Stephanie being interviewed on RTE Radio. The journalist, Della Kiroy, also interviewed David Healy who speaks towards the end of the programme. Stephanie’s harrowing account of Jake’s life and death is a warning to all that antidepressants are far from harmless, particularly when prescribed to children. Despite the widespread antidepressant prescribing in Ireland, the European Medicine’s Agency has provided the following warning  –

“..suicide-related behaviour (suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts), and hostility (predominantly aggression, oppositional behaviour and anger) were more frequently observed in clinical trials among children and adolescents treated with these antidepressants compared to those treated with placebo. The Agency’s committee is therefore recommending the inclusion of strong warnings across the whole of the European Union to doctors and parents about these risks. Doctors and parents will also be advised that these products should not be used in children and adolescents except in their approved indications.”

A recent study by Sharma et al also found similarly. The study found that in children and adolescents taking antidepressants (SSRIs and SNRIs), the risk of suicidality and aggression doubled. Being aware of all the risks and benefits is crucial before deciding whether (or not) to take a pill – any pill. Knowing what to look out for may just save a life – it may well have saved Jake’s.

Victor Kirk – Coincidental SSRI Prescription?

 

 old-man-taking-pills

Some cases, like this one, are so clearly antidepressant-induced that it seems bizarre that a coroner or medic couldn’t (or wouldn’t) recognise it. That suicidality is a side-effect of antidepressants is now well established, particularly upon starting, changing dose (up or down) or discontinuation. While the suicide-warnings are provided for under 25s, it is apparent that age is irrelevant when suffering an attack of antidepressant-induced akathisia, aggression, emotional blunting, mania or suicidal ideation (all in the leaflet).

The following case has all the hallmarks of being drug-induced. The timeline and details of events, including the flu-like symptoms and repeated interactions with the doctor, struck me as being very similar to the circumstances surrounding Shane’s death (my son). These out-of-the-blue, uncharacteristic, violent deaths have been happening for decades, since the introduction of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors antidepressants (SSRIs). In my opinion Victor is clearly another SSRI victim.

 

Victor, age 71.

Victor Kirk, 71, was suffering from high blood pressure and heart disease. On July 6th, he attended his doctor as he was feeling faint. This was possibly caused by his blood-pressure medication, as reports state that his dose was reduced for a short period and subsequently increased. There is no suggestion that Victor had any history of depression; however, he was prescribed an antidepressant for his ‘low mood’.

Less than 3 weeks later, on July 25th, Victor returned to his doctor complaining that he was suffering from side-effects of the antidepressant medication. He was switched to a different antidepressant and told to come back the following week. On August 11th, Victor once again returned to his doctor as he was ‘very worried’ about his health and felt he was getting a chest infection; he was prescribed an antibiotic. 3 days later, on August 14th, he expressed suicidal thoughts.

On the morning of August 17th, 6 weeks after he was first prescribed an antidepressant, Victor wrote a suicide-note. He then took a circular saw into his bathroom and used it to kill himself. Awakened by the loud noise, Victor’s wife found him dying on the bathroom floor, covered in blood. The coroner recorded a verdict of suicide. It looks like there was no discussion as to why Victor, who lived for 71 years and had no history of mental illness, would choose to end his life in this horrific manner. Yet again, it seems there was no discussion on his recently prescribed mind-altering-drugs, which an unwitting Victor had flagged before his death. While a coroner might be excused, as he/she often has no medical background, it is a travesty when medics ignore what is staring them right in the face.

Timeline:

July 6th – Went to GP feeling faint, prescribed an antidepressant for low mood.

July 6th-25th – Routine checks during July.

July 25th – Returned to GP complaining of side-effects. Antidepressant was stopped and replaced with a different brand.

August 11th – Returned to his GP again, very worried about his health.

August 14th – Mr Kirk expressed suicidal thoughts.

August 17th – Used a circular saw to end his own life.

GloucestershireLive Article.

The Destigmatization of Stigma ..

al-porter
Stigma: a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person – “the stigma of mental disorder”. 

 

Comedian Al Porter was on Irish TV this week, speaking of his depression, the one brought about by his chemicals that needed re-balancing. He spoke of the stigma attached to depression, then whipped out his pills on live TV and ended with the recommendation that if people needed meds, go get them, they work. The two other guests (a journalist and a doctor) were visibly moved, with one on the verge of tears, both saying how marvellous Al was for speaking so openly about his depression. Yet no-one on the programme, not even the doctor, contradicted him on his unfounded chemical imbalance belief. No balancing scientific argument was made to say that psychotropic drugs, which target the brain, can increase the risk of suicidal behaviour and aggression. Oh and let’s not forget the high percentage that will experience antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction (sometimes irreversibly).

I’m glad the drugs worked for AL, really I am, he seems like a lovely down-to-earth fella. Good luck to him – I only wish they worked so well for everyone. He’s on meds though, so what, who isn’t? You don’t see fertile females whipping out their oral contraceptives, shouting “I’m on the jack and jill, aren’t I feckin marvellous?” Or, half the population whipping out their benzos, screaming (albeit calmly) “long live me auld psychotropics”. Only the locale-name is already familiar, Ireland could surely be re-named ‘Statin Island’, which consumers could also whip out – if they could remember where they put them.

Stigma, stigma, stigma. It’s a word being wildly bandied around in the media, demonstrating how thoroughly modern and enlightened we all are. Al spoke of feeling a stigma attached to taking medication. Whether this stigma actually still persists, is debatable, particuarly as there are approximately 500,000 Irish people currently taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. According to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), 25% of Irish adults are suffering from a mental health disorder (IMO, 2016). Across the European Union, the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) have estimated the number to be far higher, at 38.2%. Everywhere we look, there are articles and documentaries informing us that having a ‘mental health’ issue, particularly depression, is actually quite normal. Indeed, the Pharmaceutical industry has spent years attempting to normalize mental illness. Yet, why would industry spend so much time and effort into supposedly reducing mental health stigma. Depression, being an extremely lucrative market, is hardly co-incidental?
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Destigmatizing stigma.
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One Pharma initative, Lundbeck’s ‘Art Against Stigma‘, apparently aims to create a ‘better understanding of mental illness’ and challenge the general public ‘to re-evaluate their perception of those with mental illness’. They very kindly provide a list of the drugs they manufacture for every mental illness you can imagine, down at the bottom of the leaflet. Ahead of another Lundbeck initiative, Irish psychiatrist Patricia Casey, a paid speaker for many years with this Pharmaceutical company, said –
people with depression can often suffer for years before seeking treatment because they do not recognise the condition or because they do not want to be stigmatised.
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GlaxoSmithKline also got in on the stigma train. Having done a fabulous job on this side of the water normalizing ‘mental illness’ (and touting GSK drugs), it took its de-stigmatising project (and drugs) to Japan, with their advertising slogan “Does Your Soul Have A Cold?” No doubt a dose of Paroxetine (Seroxat/Paxil) will cure your mucus-filled soul – perhaps permanently.
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 Not to be outdone, Lilly also got in on the act with ‘The Welcome Back Awards‘ program, established to ‘recognize outstanding achievements in the fight against depression and the stigma often associated with the illness’. Of course Lilly’s Fluoxetine (Prozac) was a major part of its success. It’s interesting to note, that stigma did not cause the death of 14-year-old Irish boy, Jake McGill Lynch – Prozac did.
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Depression is big business for the drug industry. If there is any remaining stigma, directed at a person in distress or otherwise, that is ignorance – not stigma. A pill will not cure ignorance. The Pharmaceutical industry sells drugs – an industry that exists because of ‘illness’, not health. An industry push to destigmatize ‘mental illness’ is similar to Diageo attempting to destigmatize alcoholism.

RCSI Psychiatry and The Serotonin Myth

journey-through-the-brain
Yesterday the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) launched an eBook entitled ‘journey through the brain‘ – to explore ‘the science of the brain and its connection to human emotion, mental health and well-being’. Created by researchers from the Dept of Psychiatry, the book was designed to help young people and teachers ‘understand the workings of the brain through pictures and cartoons’. The Irish Times Magazine reports that the book brings us ‘up to speed with with the latest research into the mysterious workings of our little gray cells’. This latest research from the RCSI (ranked as one of the top Universities in Europe), was designed to help us understand neuroscience and mental health – what could be better?
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Much to my disgust, the book once again pushes the unfounded chemical imbalance theory, stating ‘there is evidence for decreased levels of serotonin in the synapse of people suffering from depression’. As copies will be distributed to second level schools throughout Ireland, rather than being educational, it’s actually providing a tool for misinformation. It’s not the first time the psychiatry department has publicly expressed a belief in the now-debunked chemical imbalance myth (see Tweet here) and it’s not the first time I have challenged it within the College. As a mature student in the RCSI, I thought I could point out this obvious, very sloppy, error and they would address and amend their mistake forthwith – alas, I’m still waiting for a response to last year’s query.
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No doubt you may be wondering why I feel I’m right and the experts in RCSI Psychiatry have got it wrong? I’m open to contradiction and would be delighted to see this ‘evidence’ of low serotonin – a veritable medical revolution. However, in anticipation of debate and as previous experience had shown there was little necessity for haste, this time I took the liberty of asking the experts to confirm that the above statement is, in fact, rubbish.
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David Healy, psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist and author confirmed that yes, the low-serotonin theory is rubbish. He said rather than learning about neuroscience, readers will instead be ‘dupes of marketing’. His recent BMJ article ‘Serotonin and Depression’ provides greater clarity.
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Peter C. Gøtzsche, physician, medical researcher, leader of the Nordic Cochrane Center and co-founder of the Cochrane collaboration – yep, rubbish (and a very harmful lie, as it keeps people on drugs they would rather stop).
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Robert Whitaker, medical & science journalist and author – yep, ‘total nonsense’. He referred to a much-cited article by well-known U.S. psychiatrist, Ronald Pies (former editor of The Psychiatric Times), who opined “In the past 30 years, I don’t believe I have ever heard a knowledgeable, well-trained psychiatrist make such a preposterous claim, except perhaps to mock it”.

So there you have it; not since the days of shoulder-pads and leg-warmers has Professor Pies heard such preposterous claims, yet in 2016 the RCSI Dept of Psychiatry are still sticking to the low-serotonin mantra.

I should point out, that as a mature student, studying in the RCSI is an amazing experience. I love the camaraderie there, and the integrity of the lecturers (and students) is unquestionable. There are even a couple of perfectly nice psychiatrists. However, there is no excuse for ‘educating’ people in a ‘chemical-imbalance’ basis of depression – despite vast research, it remains unproven. Furthermore, it gives vulnerable people the impression that they have an inherent deficiency, one that only drugs can fix. This dangerous propaganda is a theory invented by industry, a very lucrative one and one that has no scientific basis whatsoever.

Recently the RCSI was given the task of defining ‘Medical Professionalism’ in order to achieve excellence in education. Entrusted into the hands of RCSI psychiatrist, Prof Kieran Murphy – a very fine document emerged. One criterion, is that medics exercise ‘evidence-based-practice’. So, with the repeated spouting of chemical imbalances and low serotonin, could it be that there is a different set of rules for the RCSI’s Dept of Psychiatry? Perhaps evidence-based-practice does not apply to this particular medical field.

Inexcusable.

Alan Hawe and Family.

 

 

Yesterday Ireland was shocked by yet another family tragedy, this time in County Cavan. It is believed that Alan Hawe killed his wife and three young children before killing himself. The picture above shows Mr Hawe with his three sons Ryan (6), Liam (13) and Niall (11).

Mr Hawe and his wife Clodagh were both teachers. In the preceding days before this incident, there was nothing to suggest that anything was awry. Witnesses said that Mr Hawe was a great dad who gave his life to bettering the lives of young people and was idolised by his pupils. The day before he killed his entire family, Mr Hawe and his sons were seen at a football match at their local GAA club. Witnesses said the family looked happy and relaxed, with no indication of anything unusual. The evening before their young bodies were discovered, the boys were seen happily playing outside their home.

There will be many reasons given and many discussions of the whys and wherefores. The usual celebrity psychiatrists will come out to publicly defend people suffering from ‘mental illness’ – while actually aggravating the stigma surrounding vulnerable people in distress. However, little will be said about what drugs Mr Hawe was on (if any), whether prescribed for any ‘mental health issues’ or indeed any other ailment – even less will be discussed about the possible adverse effects of psychotropic drugs. Adverse effects which include depersonalization, akathisia (a known precursor to suicide/homicide) and worsening depression.

I’ve written about these incidents many times, see here. I’ve been to Leinster House with the long-suffering husband and experts who told the Minister for Health, Kathleen Lynch, that these drugs are causing these terrible incidents – yet, here we are again. I won’t bore you with the details but I’ll leave you with a quote from Dr David Healy, scientist and psychopharmacologist. When asked about this recent Irish tragedy in Ballyjamesduff, he said –

“The clinical trial data suggest It’s a thousand times more likely that this has been triggered by pills than by any underlying mental illness”.

Did Mike Geldard Assume That Citalopram Was Safe?

Mike Geldard

Michael (Mike) Geldard was 66 and struggling with a knee injury, for which he was prescribed various pain medications, including Codeine, a highly addictive drug. His attempts to withdraw from Codeine left him frustrated and anxious – for this he prescribed the antidepressant Citalopram (along with a benzodiazepine). The day after Mike was prescribed Citalopram, he told his doctor that he was having suicidal thoughts and asked if he could stop taking the drug. Just like my son Shane, he was most-likely told that these feelings will subside after a few days and to keep taking the drug. Nevertheless, 11 days after being prescribed Citalopram, just like Shane, Mike was dead (he had hanged himself in his garage). At his inquest last week, the coroner, Tony Williams, recorded a narrative verdict saying that Mr Geldard had intentionally taken his own life, but reported his death while on Citalopram to the appropriate regulatory boards.

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Mike’s former wife (Helena) expressed concerns about the effect that Citalopram had on him and asked the coroner whether it was possible he had taken his life while in a drug-induced psychotic state. No answers were forthcoming. Once again, it raises the question – how many families have to raise the issue of Citalopram and other SSRIs before we wake up to the vast numbers of deaths these drugs are causing? Did Mike give his ‘informed consent’ following a thorough discussion of the increased risk of suicide when starting this drug? I doubt it.

Mike, like Shane, probably trusted that the doctor knew best and that Citalopram would help. However, experts state that the first few weeks are an incredibly dangerous time – Shane was on Citalopram for 17 days, mike lasted 11. This family of drug, SSRIs, the ‘newer’ antidepressants, were sold to recent generations as being safer than the older tricyclic antidepressants, particularly in overdose. Designed to specifically target the brain, SSRIs have proved to be psychiatry’s worst folly, causing thousands of deaths worldwide. Age, whatever the drug industry says, is irrelevant when mind-altering SSRIs are attacking our brains and turning decent autonomous beings into people capable of killing themselves (and others).

While the drug industry and some psychiatrists will acknowledge that SSRIs increase the risk of suicide and violence, the regulatory warnings are for under 25s – no older. Tell that to Mike’s children and granddaughters and all the other retirees who have died from an SSRI-induced death. Sadly for Mike, little has changed since a coroner ruled in 2008, that another recent retiree Ian Fox, 65, died while the balance of his mind was disturbed while suffering the adverse effects of Citalopram.

It seems that being over the age of 25 does not protect against the adverse effects of an SSRI’s mind-altering qualities. Many other people of a similar age to Mike, have died as a result of a recent prescription of Citalopram. Here is a few examples-

Julie McGregor, 73, drowned herself 2 weeks after being prescribed Citalopram.

John Rudd, 62, walked in front of a train 3 days after being prescribed Citalopram. The coroner said he had dealt with at least 6 fatalities (in the previous 4 months) where the person had recently started taking Citalopram.

Bridget Raby, 75, used a knife to kill herself a month after being prescribed Citalopram.

Gordon Briggs, 58, hanged himself 3 weeks after being prescribed Citalopram. Family raised concerns over his deterioration on Citalopram.

Sylvia (Margaret) Tisdale, 64, jumped from her bedroom window following a recent prescription for Citalopram. Her friend raised concerns over side-effects of the drug.

Nigel (Bernard) Woodburn, 68, drove into a tree 4 days after being prescribed Citalopram. The coroner said “this is probably the fifth, if not sixth inquest I’ve heard within a period of three years when somebody either just going on to Citalopram or Seroxat, or coming off it, have killed themselves one way or another, totally out of the blue, totally without expectation, without a history of suicidal thoughts in the past.”

Raymond Hague, 73, hanged himself a few weeks after being prescribed Citalopram.

Stephen Leggett, 53, set himself on fire 5 days after Citalopram. Coroner ordered a Government Inquiry into the drug.

Reports courtesy of Database kept by AntiDepAware.