The Pill That Steals Lives

London July 2016

This week myself and Tony abandoned the minors, left them in the care of the (sergeant) majors and took ourselves off to London. With promises of presents and various forms of bribery, they waved us off without a second glance – the deals were struck. With one condition – as long as we were back for Henny-Benny’s 12th birthday on Wednesday, we could do whatever else we liked. The purpose of our trip overseas was to attend a book launch in Waterstones of Kensington – Katinka Blackford Newman’s ‘The Pill That Steals Lives’. Having read excerpts in the Mail and spoken to Katinka over the last year, I was really looking forward to it.

Katinka is a film producer, director and author – she’s also attractive, clever and extremely funny (as are her 2 amazing children). Her book depicts a particularly harrowing year in her life, a year that started with a marriage break-up and a prescription for Escitalopram (Lexapro/Cipralex). She describes, in painful detail, her subsequent spiral into an emotionally-blunted, chronically-fatigued, medicated shell of her former self. Weirdly, as a result of running out of health insurance, she survived to tell this tale. Her autobiographical account of that year is told in a sometimes tragic, yet often humorous way – this book is a stunner. Considering the enormous increases in antidepressant prescribing, for every conceivable ailment (from exam woes to shyness), I hope it is read far and wide.

We had arranged to meet up with our friends before the book launch (Brian, his better half and Bobby Fiddaman). Brian and the Mrs were staying in a very posh hotel, where the concierges wore top hats and tails – we weren’t. A previous fiasco in Denmark led them to choose their own hotel this time – but that’s another story. Nevertheless, the concierge was very friendly and courteous and after equally posh aperitifs, we all travelled together to Waterstones bookshop on Kensington’s High Street.

It was fabulous. We met other Irish friends there too – Stephanie and John Lynch, whose son Jake tragically died from an antidepressant-induced death at age 14. There were people from all corners of the globe, all with similar stories to tell. I was delighted to finally meet David Carmichael, who had travelled from Canada to be there. David strangled his 11-year-old son while in a Seroxat induced psychosis – he’s a very nice man and I would trust him with my life.

Kirk Brandon, a singer and friend of Bobby’s was there too. While having Lunch the following day, Kirk told an equally harrowing story of his time on Seroxat. There are so many stories, from survivors (the lucky ones) but equally from those who didn’t survive, like Shane, Kevin, Jake, Ian, et cetera. The list goes on and on – read the book.

As is the norm for us in London, we had a few hiccups along the way. Thankfully, there was no flashing of ageing bodily parts this time around, certainly not mine anyway (I can’t speak for the others). Although, getting peed on, first by torrential rain and then by Ryanair, wandering aimlessly around London in the middle of the night (due to a raging fire near Clapham Junction) was all par for the course.

Even an impromptu overnight stay in London City Airport, coupled with additional flights costing a further 600 euro, could not dampen our spirits. It was worth every penny, although we did put ourselves in jeopardy of additional bribery – we missed Henny-Benny’s birthday. All is not lost though – he’s busy concocting up a repayment scheme for the trauma of this particularly bad parenting.

The Pill That Steals Lives.

GSK and The Miracle Med – The Happy Horny Skinny Pill

Skinny fat pic

An article in Sunday’s Telegraph ‘could antidepressants be ruining your sex life?’ concerned the use of widely-prescribed SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and the associated loss of libido. The article rightly refers to statistics that estimate between 30-70 per cent of SSRI consumers will be affected with some form of sexual dysfunction – despite their much-argued efficacy. According to Peter Gøtzsche, Cochrane scientist, “There isn’t much happiness in the pills. Their most pronounced effect is to cause sexual disturbances…The drugs should therefore have been marketed as a formidable disrupter of your sex life, but that wouldn’t have sold many pills.” 

However, the Telegraph article also conveyed common misconceptions into the psychopharmacological workings of antidepressants. In a nutshell – by increasing the levels of happy neurotransmitter serotonin, this effectively lifts overall mood but as a result of this increased serotonin level, your libido will decrease along with the ability to orgasm. It seems, despite there being no way of quantifying serotonin (at least not when alive), belief in ‘the chemical imbalance myth’ still prevails.

Nevertheless, leaving aside the legend of the chemical imbalance, the article also discusses another ‘libido-friendly’ alternative to SSRIs, GlaxoSmithKline’s Bupropion/Wellbrutin. The author seemingly expounds the virtues of this drug, marketed in the U.S. as Wellbutrin (an antidepressant) and Zyban (an anti-smoking drug) in the U.S. and Europe. Excerpt:

“It seems that instead of dampening desire, Wellbutrin can increase libido and suppress appetite, earning it the nickname of the ‘happy, sexy, skinny pill’.  

Sounds like the perfect pill, if it actually worked. In case anyone was contemplating doing a bit of self-diagnosing and self-medicating via the internet (as the article reports many U.K. women are doing), there are other factors that just might put you off. In fact, some crucial Wellbutrin-related adverse effects were omitted from the article, f0r example, some very serious psychological effects: unusual thoughts and behaviors, increased risk of suicidal behaviour, aggression, delusions, seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, confusion and manic episodes.

In reality, this so-called ‘happy, sexy, skinny pill’ has been plagued with problems. Following significant incidences of seizures, Wellbutrin was taken off the market shortly after its initial approval – but re-introduced a few years later at a lower dose. In 2009, following numerous suicides, the FDA (US Medicine’s Regulator) was so concerned about the psychological effects of Wellbrutin/Zyban in smokers, that they ordered a further black-box warning to be attached. The following year (2010), a study by Moore et al ‘Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others’ found Wellbutrin to be one of the 31 drugs disproportunately associated with violence.

Furthermore, as for being nickednamed the ‘happy, sexy, skinny pill’ there is one main reason for this – money. In fact, GSK actively promoted Wellbutrin as ‘the happy, horny, skinny pill’ and paid handsomely for promoting the drug for unapproved uses. In an action taken by the U.S. justice department, allegations included a myriad of wrongdoings, including that GSK hired PR firms to promote off-label use, paid doctors, organised sham advisory boards, sham ‘independent’ medical education events and provided samples to pediatric psychiatrists for unapproved use in children (despite knowing it increased the risk of suicide in this age group).

On one particular radio show, well-known tv-doc, Drew Pinsky, said it was possible that Wellbrutin could have caused a female caller’s ’60 orgasms a night’ (Sure, you’d be worn out – and I’m not entirely sure why this wouldn’t be conceived as a downright affliction). Anyway, dear Dr Drew never clarified this or mentioned that he was paid, very, very handsomely, for his services to GSK. In the months before the radio show, GSK indirectly paid him $275,000 – a fact not disclosed to the listeners. Thus, an internal GSK report determined that the media campaigns pushing Welbutrin’s ‘happy, horny, skinny’ effects, reached a total audience of 387 million. It would be surprising if anyone hasn’t heard of it, even on ths side of the Atlantic.

In case you need further convincing, in 2012, GSK was fined 3 billion dollars for these illegal and dubious practices, including for the off-label and harmful promotion of Wellbutrin in children and adults. Nevertheless, as the sales for Wellbutrin during that same period, were reportedly $5.9 billion, GSK made a tidy profit. The collateral damage of  harmed kids and unsuspecting consumers went seemingly unnoticed.

So, I would be very careful of that so-called miracle cure – you just might get more than you bargained for. ‘Sickness’ is a very lucrative business and all pharmaceuticals companies are corporate entities, ones that are totally reliant on sickness, not health. GSK just so happens to be bigger than most and one that has shown itself time and again to use greater bullying tactics.

Telegraph Article – Could Antidepressants be Killing your Sex Life?

New York Times – Suicide Warnings for 2 Anti-Smoking Drugs.

Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others, Study.

Justice Department Complaint, courtesy of KHN, here.

New York Times – Glaxo Agrees to pay $3 Billion in Fraud Settlement.

Jake’s Amendment

Jake McGill Lynch16th July 2015

Imagine your 14 year old child being prescribed fluoxetine (Prozac), not for any ‘mental illness’ but to ‘help with his exams’. Then imagine going to the local pharmacy and handing in that same prescription in exchange for a bottle of innocuous-looking liquid and being sent on your merry way to administer this ‘elixir’ to your young son, who by-the-way trusts you with all his heart. Imagine him looking you in the eye each night while you ensure that he’s taking his prescribed medication. Imagine the inexplicable scenario that neither the prescriber nor the pharmacist told you that this drug could actually cause suicide, particularly in children.

Imagine then a few weeks later, the horror of trying to remember that same trusting face after your 14 year-old child has fatally shot himself. That is most likely what Stephanie McGill Lynch does every night. I can just imagine her horror upon learning that the Irish Government already knew that these drugs were causing numerous deaths but chose to do nothing. It occurs to me that the Irish Government might just as well have shot and killed Jake, yet we are all passively allowing this to continue. Why, in an era awash in human rights activism, is nobody chaining themselves to the gates of our Government buildings for Jake, an innocent 14 year old child? Why are grieving parents left to fight a seemingly impenetrable system for justice? As one bereaved mother said recently “Why should it be down to the bereaved and harmed to battle for greater awareness of the dubious nature of ‘antidepressants’? These are random chemicals which can never merit the term ‘medicine’ until the day dawns when they are accompanied by effective information and support.”  Why indeed.

Today Jake’s parents are attending Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament) where Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD will propose an amendment to the Coroner’s Act 1961. The amendment, while not apportioning blame or fault, will permit a coroner to record an Iatrogenic death. Iatrogenesis is death caused by medical treatment and comes from the historical Greek word meaning ‘brought forth by the healer'(WIKI).

If this amendment is passed, Ireland may finally redeem itself a little. It may even prove to be a world-leader, creating precedent in paving the way for victims of medical treatment, thereby allowing other countries to follow suit. As adverse drug events are now the fourth leading cause of death in hospitals and the leading cause of death within the ‘mental health’ field, this amendment could be a huge step in paving the way for a re-think in prescribing practices.

A big thank-you to Jake’s parents and Pádraig Mac Lochlainn for pushing this hugely important amendment. Thinking of Jake today and his very sad, yet very brave parents, who are taking this one giant step on the road to justice. Newspaper Article on Jake’s Amendment below..

Jake's Amendment 2

And the mad shall inherit the earth..

Mad IrishCéad míle fáilte mo thóin. Apologies to all you Gaeilgeoirí – “Is fearr Gaeilge briste, ná Bearla cliste”.

Today the Irish Independent published an article which was just ‘shockin altogether’! Sure aren’t we Irish just plain feckin mad? The article confirms what we suspected all along, that over half of Ireland’s youth “may have a form of mental health disorder“. Now pardon my stupidity but more than 50% of anything then becomes the majority, doesn’t it? So if over half of our young population have a ‘mental disorder’, does that mean that ‘mental illness’ is now the norm?

Now there’s a further issue here, as the study was done in young people from schools in north Dublin, I wonder if it’s just northsiders who are mad – does it apply to my strange relations in Sallynoggin or are they in fact just bordering on insanity? Even worse, is it viral and will it spread out here to the friendly Wicklowites? Is that why the Stenaline axed the Dunlaoghaire to Hollyhead ferry, not because of any ‘ loss of revenue’ but instead to stop the spread of lunacy? It seems to be spreading at an incredible rate – considering in October 2013 (according to the Herald), ‘mental illness’ only affected 2 young people in 10, and now it’s spiralled to over 5 in 10.

The Independent article states that “Other research shows that the family is central to the young person’s mental health” – so therefore, surely the Dubs must be doing a shockin shite job at parenting? The same article references the College of Psychiatry of Ireland as underlining “the importance of ‘early intervention’ in order to try to give young people the best chance to get on with having full, productive and normal lives”. This is where it gets seriously ridiculous (or ridiculously serious). How early is too early for Irish psychiatry’s medical model?

Yesterday, amid the furore of Jeremy Clarkson and other important worldly news, a small article in the ‘Torquay Herald Express’ mentioned early intervention. The first line stated “authorities are to be asked to confirm the number of children in Torbay who are prescribed the anti-depressant Prozac”. The article referred to Councillor Julien Parrott and his fears for the number of 5 year olds (and older) being prescribed the antidepressant Prozac. I kid you not (no pun intended).

Early intervention? Prozac doubles the risk of suicide, doubles the risk of violence, comes with a black-box warning in the US and another EU warning for the emergence of suicidality.

Early intervention? Parents should be aware that the ‘early intervention’ programme is widely attributed to an Irish psychiatrist Patrick McGorry (living in Australia). In 2011 he found himself in hot water amid complaints that a study he was carrying out was unethical. 13 Australian and international experts lodged a formal complaint against him to stop this dubious drug trial from proceeding. The controversial study, which involved giving antipsychotic drugs to children as young as 15, was then aborted.

I believe that so-called ‘early intervention’ leads to the dangerous drugging of innocent children and to more deaths. Do we really believe that the majority of Irish children are inherently mentally ill?

C’mon – Leave our kids alone.  Fág ár páistí mar atá siad.

 

http://www.torquayheraldexpress.co.uk/Councillor-s-fears-drugs-year-olds/story-26147394-detail/story.html

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/half-of-young-irish-may-have-mental-disorder-31053848.html

http://www.herald.ie/lifestyle/mental-illness-affects-one-in-six-children-29652738.html

http://www.independent.ie/life/travel/travel-news/stena-line-axes-dun-laoghaire-ferry-service-30963858.html

http://www.smh.com.au/national/drug-trial-scrapped-amid-outcry-20110820-1j3vy.html

Polypharmacy and Elaine O’Hara

Elaine O'Hara

Elaine O’Hara, age 36.

Elaine O’Hara, a childcare and newsagent worker, was discharged from St Edmondsbury psychiatric unit on the 22nd of August 2012. Following a visit to her mother’s grave later that day, she went missing; it was the last time she was seen alive. At that time, due to her psychiatric history, her family though she had probably taken her own life. Her body was found the following year (Sept 2013) in the Dublin Mountains by a woman out walking her dog. Following a lengthy police investigation it transpired that Elaine was having an alleged sadomasochistic relationship with Graham Dwyer, a 42 year old architect from Foxrock in Co. Dublin. Although the cause of Elaine’s death has not been established, Mr Dwyer is currently on trial for her murder. According to the Irish Independent, their relationship was based on ‘BDSM’ – bondage, domination, sadomasochism, and masochism. Whether this man is guilty of Elaine’s murder (or not) remains to be determined by the Irish judiciary.

The Irish media are having a field day, initially portraying Elaine O’Hara as a very vulnerable yet intelligent woman; now it seems that her death is viewed as a media free-for-all, a no-holes-barred media circus. What struck me as really sad in this very peculiar case, is that Elaine herself seems to have been put on trial. Every aspect of her life, every lifestyle choice has been examined, scrutinised and then widely publicized for a further round of public analyses. There seems to be a general consensus that Elaine’s relationship with this man (and his sadistic fetishes) somehow veered towards an acquiescence of sorts. People naturally wonder how Elaine O’Hara could go out with this man, who according to media reports, had a sadistic penchant for inflicting pain on women.

Early difficulties –

Media reports say that Elaine’s difficulties started in her teens when she was bullied in school and a close friend of hers died in a road accident. Sadly, this then led to Elaine being treated under irish psychiatric ‘care’ and consequently medicated accordingly. She became very withdrawn and tried to cut her wrists at age 16. According to her father she had been medicated very heavily from the time she was a teenager and this affected their relationship – “she was hard going sometimes”. He said Elaine was on so much medication that she would sometimes fall asleep. He further stated that this had affected her in her teenage and early adult years. Considering this cocktail of mind altering drugs, is it really a surprise that Elaine would make some dubious decisions?

Elaine was released from a psychiatric Hospital the same day she went missing. That same day she collected 10 medications from her local pharmacy for athsma, diabetes, anxiety, depression, a stomach problem, vertigo and an added one for cholesterol. Which medical experts allowed this polypharmacy to continue; why did no-one put a stop to it?

Her sister Anne described Elaine as a ‘naive’ person who would “tell a man on the street her life story”. She said Elaine’s psychological difficulties meant that she ‘acted quite young’ and “she never really grew up as much as the rest of us, she was very naive, very trusting of people”. Psychologist Sheila Hawkins (partner of Elaine’s father) said “I placed her emotional development around the age of 15”. Ms Hawkins said she was aware of Elaine’s interest in sado-masochism and there was further evidence in court of a latex bodysuit being discovered. A work colleague testified that everything Elaine said had to be taken “with a pinch of salt”. She further stated “You wouldn’t know what was true or what wasn’t true”. How very sad that every single element of this woman’s life is under scrutiny; the question is, who is on trial here?

Polypharmacy –

So what about the ten medications she was on? Which doctor added in the 10th drug? Which medical expert said “Righty ho Elaine, how many drugs are you on? Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight but nine prescription drugs. Okay so, let’s add in another one for good measure and that might solve your problems” . Were any of these prescribers experts in Pharmacology or psychopharmacology? Did any have a clue as to how these ten different drugs could interact? Does anyone actually care?

It seems there was a point where at least one doctor wanted to reduce her drug regime. Her father said that in her last five years “doctors were trying to reduce her medications and he thought she had improved quite a bit”. Despite this, the Irish Independent reported that ‘in the two years before her disappearance, the cost of the medication dispensed by her local pharmacy was €8,417’. Is it any wonder that this woman would allow herself to be moulded and coached by a dangerous man? She was medicated to within an inch of her life or arguably, within an inch of her death. It actually surprises me that she was able to function after consuming these drugs, never mind function coherently.

In my opinion, whether this man is found guilty or not, Elaine was abused in life by our Irish acceptance of the ‘medical experts’ and their ridiculous polypharmacy. Following her death, she and her family are now being abused by the media’s very public portrayal of every aspect of Elaine’s very short life. Would she have gone anywhere near this man or this lifestyle if she wasn’t medicated to the gills with dangerous mind altering drugs? That is quite possibly the one question the media are not prepared to ask.

Who, When, Where and How..

60 mins

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,

Why did you do it – choose to die?

 

Last week the Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, conducted nine inquests in one day. What he found deeply disturbing was that seven of the deaths were self-inflicted. He said “Seven deaths, all bunched together. It is very alarming – it is a terrible tragedy … ” Brian McDonald’s excellent article provides an unusual insight into the deaths that were deemed to be suicide.

The Coroner’s findings, while tragic, were not in fact unusual. In December 2011 another Coroner, this time in Wexford, performed inquests into the deaths of eight people. Again these inquests were all performed in one day –  six were deemed to be suicide.

I would argue, taking lunchtime and tea breaks into consideration, exactly how much investigation goes into finding ‘who, when, where and how’ a person has died? Would approximately an hour for each individual serve to bring justice for his/her death, or provide answers for the families left behind? The opportunity to find the common denominator in both of these Coroner’s courts was sadly overlooked. If, in the 13 ‘deaths by suicide’ recorded by these two Coroners, there is no common denominator, then we will probably never reduce the suicide rate. The millions earned and spent on suicide prevention and ‘mental health’ in this country might as well be turfed into the Liffey. Be under no illusion, suicide generates a lot of money worldwide and that includes Ireland.

I suggest that answers will be found once bereaved families are asked to participate in suicide prevention. They could be asked to provide details of the deceased’s life, particularly of their final year. What events could explain their choice to die? Is it possible that Swedish medical writer Janne Larsson is correct, that the majority of suicide victims had been prescribed psychiatric drugs, known (despite the denial by Irish psychiatry) to double the risk of suicide? Is Declan Gilsenan (retired Irish Pathologist) right in saying that he believes that these drugs are causing suicides? He has said, of the last five autopsies he performed on suicide victims, 4 had been recently introduced to an ssri antidepressant. Is Professor David Healy (Irish psychopharmacologist and world-leading expert on these drugs) right when he says that these drugs are causing hundreds of Irish people to feel so desperate, that they choose death as the only way to escape the adverse effects of same?

One thing is for sure, one miserable hour is not going to get to the bottom of why a person chose death instead of life. Is 60 minutes of a Coroner’s attention all that the family’s beloved one was worth?

Is 60 minutes enough to determine whether akathisia played a part in a person’s demise? Nope, not a chance of it. It does beg the question though – if these inquests had a jury, along with a medical expert, would their deaths have been determined as suicide? Would the juries instead, as in my son’s inquest, have rejected a sucide verdict on account of the prescribed drug in his/her system? One thing is for sure, an hour to determine ‘who, when, where and how’ is, in my opinion, just adding insult to injury.

Knock Yourself Out!

Hugh Laurie

Don’t say I never told you so!

Last week we had yet another ‘mental health’ discussion on Irish TV which portrayed antidepressants as a cure-all for depression. The programme’s presenters stated that ‘it’s not a shameful thing anymore, to take antidepressants’. In fact it’s not actually a big deal to admit being on antidepressants because so many people of the ‘enlightened’ western world have a chemical defect, which only happy pills can fix; ah bless. In attempting to seem enlightened, one would be forgiven for believing that these Irish presenters were talking about the harmless Smartie. Not a mention of silly side effects for the dimwitted public either – much too complicated. Sure what’s informed consent between friends? My silly Tweet ‘for balance don’t you know’ went unanswered.

Coincidentally, last week I had the pleasure of reading ‘The Woman Who Stole My Life’ by Marian Keyes. There’s nothing quite as relaxing as a weekend with your face stuck into the latest Marian Keyes. I was a tad surprised though to read a somewhat flippant thread of prescription drugs running through the book, with the two main characters taking Xanax and antidepressants. I should point out that they had a great sex life, which in reality is highly unlikely when taking antidepressants. Ah well, sure it’s only fiction and they are only Smarties after all. No mention of the factual antidepressant induced PSSD (persistent post-SSRI sexual dysfunction) to dampen the spirits (or sexual desires) of Marian’s readers; and indeed who could blame her?

Knock yourself out –

While many will say ‘these drugs saved my life’, there are many others who sadly can no longer speak. For every one person these drugs have helped, how many have they killed? The dangers of these drugs are widely known. The effects of taking antidepressants can include: suicide ideation, homicide ideation, violence, mania, worsening depression, akathisia, abnormal bleeding, discontinuation syndrome (withdrawal), anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness and impulsivity. Hyponatremia – signs include headache, difficulty concentrating, memory impairment, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which may lead to falls. Signs and symptoms associated with more severe and/or acute cases have included hallucination, syncompe, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death. Despite the large scale use in pregnancy, antidepressants can be harmful to unborn babies. The teratogenic effect is believed by some experts to double the rate of autism in children and increase the risk of lung, heart and bowel diseases. Tragically the latter is not an exhaustive list! Dr Urato of Tufts University, stated “Doctors are putting thousands of pregnant women and their unborn children at serious risk of harm by prescribing them anti-depressants.. amounting to a large scale human experiment”.

I’ve been banging this well-worn drum for over 5 years, ever since my son Shane died from an antidepressant induced death. So please, by all means, feel free to take as many prescription drugs as you please. Genuflect reverently to your friendly GP who’s ready to pen that prescription quicker than you can say ‘quick draw McGraw’ if the mood takes you. ‘Knock yourself out’ in the numerous pharmacies if you feel the need, but let me say one thing – Don’t ever say that I didn’t warn you. I’m not at all adverse to saying ‘I told you so’!