For decades, declarations by perturbed relatives that a loved-one’s death was iatrogenic (induced by medical treatment), were often dismissed as anecdotal. Accounts imparted by concerned loved-ones were likely to be rejected, albeit often kindly – yet thrust aside as the demented rantings of a grieving loved-one. Placated with persuasive words, relatives often slink away, suitably chastised by the medic’s evidential superior knowledge. The rantings of the grieving widow or mother will be controlled and placated, with the vociferator patronized and often pitied as misinformed dissidents. Thus, relegated to the anecdotal tray, rather than adverse-reaction tray, the iatrogenesis will likely continue, surfacing some time later to harm another. Many feel this practice is particularly pervasive within psychiatry, where protecting the medical model seems paramount over the safeguarding of patients.
The perception of the American ‘shrink’ listening attentively, while the horizontal patient spills his innermost torment, is one that persists today. In reality, this is far from the norm, with the prescribing of psychiatric drugs taking precedence over the tedium of treating a traumatised patient. Drugs that often mask the problem with disinhibition and emotional blunting are seemingly prescribed with wild abandon, yet only the families affected can see the harms done – while medics seem oblivious. When Cochrane Scientists and expert psycho-pharmacologists, are publicly stating that antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs are causing ‘more harm than good’ and many deaths, dismissive medics who continue to recklessly prescribe are walking a fine line between acting irresponsibly and negligently. However, a vast disparity still exists between scientific findings that psychiatric drugs are the third leading cause of death in Europe (and the U.S) and psychiatry’s Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) declaring these drugs are safe – even declaring that ‘the public should have no concerns about these drugs’.
When publicly challenged, KOLs usually retaliate with the mantra ‘correlation does not imply causation’. Pushed a bit further, their hackles will rise and they’ll state ‘these people are causing harm, by stopping people from taking life-saving medication’. Yet, even a utilitarian argument that these drugs provide ‘the greatest good for the greatest number’ has been debunked by Peter Gøtzsche (scientist and co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration). He stated recently, to no small uproar, that these drugs are ‘doing more harm than good’ and that almost all psychotropic drug use could be stopped without deleterious effect (due to withdrawal, discontinuing is not advisable without medical supervision).
However, the problems run deeper than the KOLs defence of psychiatric drugs. An interesting article on MIA (Mad in America) tells the sorry tale of a dad who recently discovered that the American drug regulator (FDA) is ‘hiding reports linking psychiatric drugs to homicides’. It will be interesting to see what happens next within the FDA.
Furthermore, the statement that ‘the public should have no concerns about these drugs’ was made following an inquest in Ireland, where concerns were raised by the deceased’s family about a recent prescription of Sertraline (Zoloft/Lustral). However, as is common practice, the family’s concerns were dismissed. They had no way of knowing that in 1998, the Irish Drug Regulator (HPRA), following reports of Sertraline-induced suicide, had requested that the drug company in question (Pfizer) search its database for similar cases. There were 594 ‘suicide events’ reported from non-clinical sources, of which causality was not investigated. Of the 252 from clinical trial cases, Pfizer’s internal report concluded that 54 were directly related to Sertraline treatment. Interestingly, 11 of the ‘suicide events’ reported (from both sources) came from Ireland, with 2 found causally related to Sertraline. The latter were from ‘confidential’ documents released through court proceedings and provided by Kim Witczak who lost her husband Woody to Sertraline.
Nevertheless, it seems that science may be catching up with the anecdotal evidence, with some interesting studies published recently. Following the Study 329 debacle (as yet unretracted), the latest study by Jureidini et al ‘The citalopram CIT-MD-18 pediatric depression trial: Deconstruction of medical ghostwriting, data mischaracterisation and academic malfeasance’ shows how Forest Labs, through greed and fraudulent practices, actively ignored the prospective likely harms to children. The study concluded:
Deconstruction of court documents revealed that protocol-specified outcome measures showed no statistically significant difference between citalopram and placebo. However, the published article concluded that citalopram was safe and significantly more efficacious than placebo for children and adolescents, with possible adverse effects on patient safety.
Another study by Selma et al ‘The relevance of cytochrome P450 polymorphism in forensic medicine and akathisia-related violence and suicide’ expressed that a genetic predisposition to iatrogenesis can be traced back to pharmacogenetic interactions, namely the inability of some to metabolize prescribed drugs, making ordinarily ‘safe’ drugs, lethal for some. The study concluded:
“CYP450 status is an important factor that differentiates those who can tolerate a drug or combination of drugs from those who might not. Testing for cytochrome P450 identifies those at risk for such adverse drug reactions. As forensic medical and toxicology professionals become aware of the biological causes of these catastrophic side effects, they may bring justice to both perpetrators and to victims of akathisia-related violence. The medicalization of common human distress has resulted in a very large population getting medication that may do more harm than good by causing suicides, homicides and the mental states that lead up to them”.
Perhaps we will just have to wait for the hapless KOL to catch up, not only with the scientific evidence but with collective anecdotal evidence from families. It would seem that underestimating anecdotal evidence is unwise – not least as science often evolves from this very valuable source.
Strange to be writing about someone who’s alive, but a nice change all the same. A survivor, who knew? Sorry, sarcasm – you can take the girl outta Sallynoggin…
Gareth O’Callaghan is a well known Irish author, radio presenter and mental health activist. He has written numerous books on depression, including the popular A Day Called Hope: A Journey Beyond Depression. Recently, he has spoken out about his experience on the SSRI Citalopram (aka Cipramil/Celexa), the same drug my son Shane was on for 17 days before his death. Why he has decided to bare all now, I don’t know, but I’m just glad that he has. Gareth said that he followed Shane’s case avidly “..not only because of the huge media coverage it received, but also because I too took citalopram many years ago. I can identify with the Akathisia (restless, aggressive inner anxiety) that Shane suffered as a result of the drug. I could really frighten people here if I was to explain in detail what Akathisia does to the mind. Thankfully I had a chance to stop taking the tablets. Shane didn’t”.
I should say that this is not news to me – I spoke to Gareth some years back; he’s a nice, friendly and very honest guy, who pulls no punches. He can be heard on 4FM every weekday afternoon here.
Akathisia (from the Greek for inability to sit) is a widely misunderstood and underestimated adverse effect of taking a drug, usually an SSRI antidepressant or a benzodiazepine. Coded in Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) as ‘inner restlessness’ and ‘restless leg syndrome’, it has been described by some survivors as the ‘worst experience ever’, a feeling of ‘inner torment’ where ‘death would be a welcome release’ and seems ‘the only, very welcome option’.
Wendy Dolin, who I had the pleasure of meeting in Copenhagen, described how her husband Stewart died while suffering with akathisia – 6 days after he was prescribed Paxil/Seroxat. She has set up MISSD, a blog specifically to warn of the dangers of akathisia –
“On July 15, 2010, (six days after beginning the medication), following a regular lunch with a business associate, Stewart left his office and walked to a nearby train platform. A registered nurse who was also on the platform later reported seeing Stewart pacing back and forth and looking very agitated. As a train approached, Stewart took his own life. This happy, funny, loving, wealthy, dedicated husband and father who loved life left no note and no logical reason why he would suddenly want to end it all. Neither Paxil nor the generic version listed suicidal behavior as a potential side effect for men of Stewart’s age.”
A recent post on MISSD reports a personal experience similar to Gareths here. David Healy also explained akathisia in his coroner’s report for Shane’s inquest here. Short excerpt below –
There is good evidence that akathisia can exacerbate psychopathology in general, and a consensus that it can be linked to both suicide and violence. A link between akathisia and violence, including homicide, following psychotropic drug use has previously been reported.
What surprises me with Gareth’s post, is that while he is telling of his awful experience and has many supporters, some people have taken offence where there is none intended. There are quite a few ‘how dare yous’. It seems that while it’s perfectly acceptable to be MedicatedAndMighty, it’s not okay to be UnMedicatedAndMighty and talk of a bad personal experience with prescription drugs. Surely his story is equally important? A selection of the comments below:
you’re doing more damage by labelling those who need help
I am going to unfollow u I have had enough of your one sided beliefs
Please don’t make people feel bad If they need it after bereavement etc.
Giving drugs for bereavement is surely part of psychiatry’s problem but one I won’t go into here (See works of David Healy, Robert Whitaker, Peter Gotzsche, Peter Breggin, etc). It should be noted that akathisia is not always fatal but monitoring is crucial. If it occurs in the early stages of taking a prescription drug, it can occasionally wear off (but not always). If it develops later, it’s less likely to wear off.
Read Gareth O’Callaghan’s post on akathisia below; It’s well worth a read..
This is a true story. It is called personal experience. It happened to me. In hindsight it relates to probably the most terrifying month of my life and I would like to write about it here for the first time. It happened 16 years ago.
If you would prefer not to read how an antidepressant can destroy a human mind, and even kill, then I suggest you stop here. Otherwise please read on. It’s also worth remembering while you’re reading this that there have been hundreds of suicides in Ireland so far this year. Many of these people could still be alive if they had been told the truth about these drugs before they had been prescribed.
I have written here on a few occasions about a condition – a body and mind reaction – called ‘Akathisia’, which is directly caused by antidepressant medications. I would like to explain more about this dangerous reaction this evening and what it really is, as very few people have ever heard of it. And it is one of the most dangerous and severe side-effects of these drugs.
In 2000 I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed citalopram (aka celexa, cipramil), a drug that – to the best of my knowledge – arrived in 1996. It was still brand new. These days we now know it is also extremely dangerous as I will explain in a moment. Despite all the damaged lives it has caused and the many deaths it has been responsible for, it is still one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressants from a range of drugs known as SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). Why, if this drug can induce death, is it still widely available?
Back then we knew nothing about what this toxic drug was capable of doing because it was basically still being tested. 16 years ago most of us might agree that our education about mind-altering drugs was scant and strongly influenced by the medical profession. Consequently very few of us were prepared to share our experiences like we are today because we knew no better. We were led to believe this was ‘the cure’.
The SSRIs have for years been marketed around a shocking blatant lie, namely that a chemical brain imbalance causes depression. Back then, 16 years ago, I thought (as a result of buying into this myth) that this drug would rebalance my brain chemicals and cure my depression. If only I had known back then what I know now.
I was told that the drug would take between three and five weeks (maybe six) to really ‘kick in’. I was told to be patient. So I reminded myself each day through this anxious misery and baseline unhappiness that I was feeling that I would eventually see the sun again and appreciate the life I had forgotten existed. I waited. And waited. And then after about seven days my life changed. Something truly shocking and off-the-scale of understanding started to happen.
I started to feel more anxious, in a stomach-knotted nauseous kind of way. My heart started to beat faster and I felt like I was losing my grip on reality. My first panic attack happened in a packed shopping centre on a busy Saturday afternoon. I lost the plot. I felt like I was having some sort of seizure so deep inside me I couldn’t control my rational self.
I told my two young daughters that we needed to get back home as quickly as possible. They couldn’t understand why I couldn’t explain why we needed to go home. I was cracking inside very quickly, sweating, trembling, palpitating, even crying. I was losing all sense of reality in a way that was terrifying me. How I managed to drive home that day is still something I can’t bear to think about.
Once home I went upstairs to a room which I had converted into a small office years before, closed the door and started to cry. The crying became a full-scale panic attack and I ended up lying on the floor hugging my knees trying to stop the awful sensation of severe agitation that was tearing me apart inside.
Eventually it eased; but then the pain in my knees became so bad I had to get up and walk around. It wasn’t normal walking; it was pacing. I paced around the house, often sitting down to rub the pain out of my knees, and then standing and pacing while scratching my face and squeezing my abdomen to stop the horrendous agitation that was tearing at my gut. It was so deep inside me it was tearing at my gut with a hidden pain I couldn’t reach.
In the days that followed, the aggression I felt would play horrible games with my mind. I couldn’t be around sharp instruments, or walk near water. I found it increasingly difficult to cross busy roads, or to be in a crowded place for more than a few seconds. Panic struck me randomly. I was afraid to drive my car so I stopped driving. But most of all the desire – the irrational, unwanted, terrifying need – to kill myself was never far from my mind. Death would stop this pain but I didn’t want to die, I kept thinking. My brain was in a state of meltdown. The nightmares and the sweats were truly shocking.
I lasted for three weeks on citalopram. On the 22nd day I rang my doctor. I told him I couldn’t take it anymore. I explained to him what was happening and he was shocked. I am lucky to have a very good doctor. Many people are not so lucky.
If reading about my experience here has upset you, then please let me emphasise that this was never my intention. This may not help you but I hope it might help someone who is reading this tonight and possibly going through this awful ordeal.
I made a promise to myself years ago that I would be totally honest with myself. If I can’t be honest to me, then I definitely can’t be honest with you. My writing comes from an honesty that believes in justice and support for others who are coming through what I have come through.
I know so much more these days about mental health and what heals, and also what doesn’t. I knew nothing back then. I started to educate myself when it dawned on me just how close I had come to harming myself seriously.
Unfortunately unless you have a good doctor you probably won’t be told what you need to hear and do. That is just not acceptable. If your doctor is a dickhead, get a new doctor – simple as that. If your psychiatrist is more interested in spoofing than in healing, then leave the room.
Akathisia, we are told, is usually a ‘mild reaction’ to SSRIs. Let’s be honest here. Mild is an understatement. For many people who start these drugs, akathisia is a life-threatening condition that needs to be more fully understand by both patient and doctor.
Most psychiatrists play it down because they know that three of the most popular drugs that they claim to be suitable and ‘safe’ to take for depression, that they increasingly peddle as a cure (the same drugs they include in many of their speculative, dodgy concoctions) cause akathisia: FACT.
These three drugs are Prozac (fluoxetine), Seroxat (paroxetine), and Cipramil (citalopram/celexa).
These drugs are believed to play havoc with the brain neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which under normal conditions is secreted in response to stress. It is associated with levels of insomnia, anxiety (panic), and aggression (and violence).
Research has shown that these drugs make people ‘more prone’ to suicide (and aggression) during the first few weeks of starting to take them. So many people suffer silently from akathisia. Ask any of these people if they were experiencing these awful side-effects before taking the drugs and they will tell you most likely they were not.
A deep sense of loss of interest in life, a deep-rooted unhappiness, a feeling of morbidity … these are all feelings of depression; but unfortunately often the very drug that is taken to counteract these feelings creates a violent emotional storm that many psychiatrists (and doctors) blame on the depression – not the drug.
Psychiatry is not going to change its attitudes to SSRIs. The pharmaceutical companies who developed these drugs need psychiatrists and doctors to keep selling them. Big Pharma has too much to lose. They don’t want you to find another way of healing your life. They want you to be as depressed as you possibly can be. Otherwise their profits drop because they can’t peddle their drugs. (And that’s beginning to happen.)
If a young person dies while on their drug, they blame the so-called illness, not the toxic drug. Depression is a multi-billion euro business. The second biggest exporter out of Ireland is antidepressants.
Maybe you haven’t experienced anything like what I have just described. If so, you are one of the lucky ones. If you have any doubt or bad feeling about the medication you take, or have started to take, then go straight back to whoever prescribed it to you. Demand honest answers to your questions. You are paying a lot of money. In return you are also demanding respect.
If they tell you that you are “blowing it out of all proportion” (as one young man told me he was told by his doctor), or to “stick with it”, as others have been told, or if they tell you they know best, then change your doctor. Get someone who genuinely wants to help you. It might just save your life.
This November IFMAD are holding a symposium in Monte Carlo which is sponsored by an unrestricted grant from Lundbeck pharmaceuticals.
IFMAD is an abbreviation for ‘International Forum on Mood and Anxiety Disorders’ – an unfortunate abbreviation it has to be said. Their website is also sponsored by Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals.
According to their ‘Lundbeck sponsored’ website, IFMAD was founded in 2000 by ‘Professor Siegfried Kasper and Professor Stuart Montgomery’ and supported by a scientific committee from around the world.
So what, you may ask? What’s another pharma funded symposium? Why does it matter that the brochure has a huge advert for Lundbeck’s Cipralex/Lexapro? I dunno, you tell me, or maybe you could ask Brennan McCartney? No sorry, he’s dead, just because his doctor relied on the objectivity of the ‘experts’ advice, believed it, and subsequently prescribed Brennan a sample pack of Cipralex. You can read Brennan’s story here.
Coincidentally, both IFMAD founders, Siegfried Kasper (Austria) and Stuart A. Montgomery (UK), have previously ‘investigated’ Cipralex and both studies have had positive results here and here.
Irish Professor Timothy (Ted) Dinan is one of IFMADs scientific advisors, Again coincidentally, he is also a faculty member of the Lundbeck Institute here and a Lundbeck ‘Brain Explorer’ advisor, here. In fact Timothy et al also recently concluded a Cipralex study, this time in rodents, here. The first line states ‘Despite the clinical prevalence of the antidepressant escitalopram, over 30% of escitalopram-treated patients fail to respond to treatment’. Fairly objective statement you may think? In my opinion, that’s a very deceptive statement and expert spiel at its best. What it is actually saying is that Escitalopram (aka Cipralex/Lexapro) has clinical prevalence over other brands and that it works in almost 70% of cases.
Similarly, most of IFMAD’s scientific advisors (listed here), have participated in Cipralex studies and all (without exception) concluded positive results. Here’s a couple of examples: Christer Allgulander (Sweden) here, A.C Altamura (Italy) here, Michael Bauer (Germany) here and Naomi Fineberg (UK) here.
Again (Ahem) most likely coincidentally, at least 12 of IFMAD’s scientific advisors are also faculty members of the Lundbeck Institute: Dinan, Altamura, Boyer, Arango, Kennedy, Mendlewicz, Möller, Papadimitriou, Rihmer, Stein, Vieta and Zohar.
Lars Von Knorring (Sweden) is an IFMAD scientific advisor. He lists Anne-Liis Von Knorring (relationship unknown) as one of his top co-authors here. She was the same professor who was accused of covering up the bad results of Lundbeck’s Celexa (same drug, different story) and actively misleading doctors and the public here. Lars also did studies on Citalopram which once again proved positive; one example here.
Maybe I should get a life and forget that my son would be still alive if he didn’t take Citalopram (same drug as Cipralex), prescribed by doctors who believed in the ‘independent’ spiel dished out by ‘independent’ KOP’s (Key Opinion LiarsLeaders)? NO? You know what I think? I think that IFMAD is a Lundbeck creation, created to propagate the ‘independent’ KOP’s subjective pharma-funded belief in Lundbeck drugs. Yes IFMAD, IAM(VERYEFFING)MAD this lovely November morning! Lundbeck-funded propaganda at its worst.
I have always said that I never get angry, but I think I may have to revise that statement. You’d think by the following conversation, that I had lost my purse or something equally trivial, but hey, what’s a son to Lundbeck pharmaceuticals?
Sept 20 2013
RE; My son’s death (Shane Clancy)
To whom it concerns,
It has come to my attention that the CIOMS report which I have received for my son’s death is unfactual. The box marked ‘did event reappear after reintroduction’, is inexplicably blank. As you can see from my son’s medical records which I have attached for your attention, there is clearly a challenge, dechallenge and rechallenge period. The significance of my son’s suicide attempt shortly after his consumption of Citalopram and his completed suicide shortly after rechallenge surely did not go unnoticed by your pharmacovigilance department?
As this seems to be an oversight on Lundbeck’s part, can you rectify this important issue and get back to me and the Irish Medicines Board with another assessment. As I’m sure that deceased children are of huge importance to Lundbeck, this matter is surely one of utmost importance in order to prevent future fatalities.
Reply Sept 25 2013
Dear Ms Fennell,
I refer to your query below concerning the CIOMS report for your son’s case. The CIOMS form was completed in compliance with pharmacovigilance legislation which requires a revision of the form on the receipt of relevant new information. There is no requirement for a revision of the CIOMS form, as the case is considered up-to-date by the Irish Medicines Board.
Here’s an interesting story which Brian of AntiDepAware posted about last week.
A law firm based in Leeds (Ison Harrison) negotiated a settlement for a client after a pharmacy dispensed antidepressantsrather than migraine medication. I was able to find out that the antidepressant was Sertraline aka Zoloft/Lustral. What is interesting is the adverse effects this woman had from taking Sertraline. As well as suffering from severe abdominal cramps, diarrhoea and becoming uncoordinated, she felt suicidal. Here is a clear indication that this dangerous drug, not the underlying illness (migraine), can induce a person to become suicidal.
This is the same drug which University College Cork professor, Ted Dinan, defended in the Irish media, stating – ‘The public should have no concerns about these drugs’. His statement followed an inquest in Cork where Nicolas Maguire’s family tried to raise public awareness on the dangers of antidepressant medication. Excerpt Below:
“However, Professor Ted Dinan, a professor of Psychiatry at Cork University Hospital and an expert in pharmacology, said Mr Maguire had severe depression. “People with severe depression can experience profound personality change. It doesn’t mean the drugs were to blame,” he said. He said there is an increased risk of suicide in people who are in the “recovery phase” of depression, and that he is not aware of any convincing evidence that taking Sertraline actually leads to suicidal behaviour. In fact, in countries where drugs like it have been introduced, the rate of suicide has actually dropped, he said. “The use of Sertraline helps to reduce suicidality and reduce depression. The public should have no concerns about these drugs,” he said.”
Ted Dinan has previously declared links to Pfizer, the makers of Sertraline. He is also a faculty member of the Lundbeck Institute and has also publicly involved himself in ‘The Shane Clancy Affair’. He was quoted as saying “I can say with 100 per cent certainty and without any fear of contradiction” that modern anti-depressants such as the drug Citalopram (sold as Cipramil) which Mr Clancy took do not cause people to commit murder.” He added that there was no evidence either that the drugs cause patients to take their own lives.
T.G.D. has lectured at meetings and served on advisory boards organised by companies promoting antipsychotic medications, including Eli Lilly, Janssen-Cilag, Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
Surely the objectivity of our key opinion leaders’ advice, particularly on such an important issue, is of utmost importance. There is a clear ‘perception of bias’ here; which could give rise to the argument that the opinion of our leading ‘experts’ is for sale.
There are some very, very tragic cases being publicly played out in Ireland at the moment. Whether the use of medication was a factor or not in these cases has not yet been established, but the following unusual case came up in the Irish courts recently.
On 22nd of July Nurse Greta Dudko (pictured) pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to the manslaughter of her mother ‘Anna Butautiene’ on Christmas Eve 2010. The jury failed to reach a verdict and a retrial was set for Oct 2014.
Ms Dudko, who is originally from Lithuania, had separated from her husband two weeks before the incident and was living with her mother and young son. Evidence was given of a litany of mitigating circumstances, including assault, both mentally and physically, resulting in the mother being struck twice over the head with a bottle by Ms Dudko. She said “I hit her on the face with the empty bottle twice because I thought she was going to ruin my life and just hated her,” She further stated she had no intention of killing her, “just to shut her up for the evening“.
Despite huge media coverage, only one newspaper reported that she had recently been prescribed medication by her GP, Dr Hassan Albayyari. On 15 December 2010 Dr Hassan prescribed Librium for alcohol withdrawal (9 days before Ms Dudko caused the death of her mother). Librium, a benzodiazepine, can cause, among other things: depression, thoughts of suicide, unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibitions, no fear of danger, confusion, hyperactivity, agitation, hostility and hallucinations. There was further evidence of a prescription for Xanax in September 2010.
On December 22, 2010 (2 days before her mother’s death), she was prescribed Lexapro. Yes, Lundbeck’s Lexapro aka Escitalopram, found by a Brussels court to be the same as Cipramil aka Citalopram, here. Now, it is well established that this drug can cause ‘self harm and harm to others’, which at worst equates to suicide/homicide, so is this a prime example of involuntary intoxication? Dr Hassan said “Lexapro takes a minimum of three weeks to work”`. According to Professor David Healy who is an expert on SSRIs, that is wrong. In his paper entitled ‘Antidepressants for Prescribers‘ he states “This is completely untrue. These drugs produce benefits and harms within hours or days of first taking them. It may take several weeks for a clinical syndrome to lift but this is something quite different. The argument that the drug takes time to work is trotted out as part of the defense against claims that an antidepressant has triggered suicide or violence.”
So is Dr Hassan defending the use of Lexapro in this case? Who knows, but here is a list of some similar cases where antidepressant use was successfully used in an ‘Involuntary Intoxication’ defense, here.
There is also a further paper written on this subject by David Healy et al, entitled ‘Case Histories As Evidence’, here. Sadly, this paper refers to my son Shane (who is SC) and who suffered from involuntary intoxication of prescribed Citalopram. Is Nurse Greta Dudko another Lundbeck victim to add to the growing list, along with her mother?
Despite the evidence uncovered by Panorama, Lundbeck ( at 25 mins), never a company to shy away from another lie, stated – “Citalopram does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of major fetal malformations.” The two unfortunate Irish babies who are logged into the Irish Medicine’s Board database are not worth a mention then? Ah yes, just a couple of damaged and dead babies to add to Citalopram’s collateral damage list! The late John McCarthy put it perfectly “how do these people sleep?“
This morning I was rambling around a shop in Wicklow – minding my own business. The radio was playing loudly in the background and there was a discussion on about depression. A ‘science expert’ was giving his tuppence worth, telling us how depression can be caused by low serotonin levels. I couldn’t just let that go, could I?
The shopkeeper told me it was East Coast Radio (ECR), a Wicklow based radio station. I’ll try to find out who the ‘expert’ is later but in the meantime; seriously? How can these idiots keep spouting the ‘chemical imbalance’ rubbish? It is drug company propaganda at its best and has no scientific basis, no factually based evidence whatsoever to conclude that depression is anything other than a reaction to life itself. So anyone, particularly a supposed ‘expert’ spouting this rubbish as fact is unforgivable, dangerous and completely unabashed of whether the science backs up the ‘expertise’ being publicized to the nation.
I’m having a bad day today, tears are ready to ‘go forth and multiply’ at the slightest provocation. Some unsuspecting person saying hello would be enough to set the floodgates in motion. I spoke to Shane’s friends this morning, so that probably set me off (lovely as they are). It’s nearly 4 years now and some days it feels like yesterday, 4 years since my lovely son died from 17 days of Citalopram. 4 years since he took someone elses life and his own on the same night. Sometimes I feel I have no right to be sad as I’m the mother of a guy who killed another person, whether caused by this particular drug or not. I wonder about random people who are nice to me, who want to chat about the weather, the traffic or the state of the country. Would they be nice to me if they knew I was the mother of a young man who took the life of another, or would they walk on by and pretend they didn’t see me for fear of catching something? Should I wear a placard around my neck telling randomers who I am?
The DSM-5 (psychiatric manual) would say that I have a psychiatric disorder, major depressive disorder to be precise. Being sad for 4 years is way over the 2 week period that this manual allows a person to grieve before recommending medication to fix them. Despite having a lovely husband and other perfectly happy normal(ish) children, some days I still wish I was dead. That’s not depression talking, just a fact; so much easier! Oh the joys of dying from a heart attack than to live with the pain of missing my son. And no, I’m not depressed, just having a bad day; a ‘natural’ reaction to some terrible circumstances in my life. I’ll be perfectly okay again tomorrow, particularly without the intervention of a doctor, who can and do make things so much worse by prescribing mind altering drugs. I’m sitting in my car waiting for my sons to finish Jui Jitsu (the latest craze in our house), balling like an idiot with make-up running down my face and hair like the ‘wild woman of Borneo’ (whoever she is). I care little about what people think of me anymore, my hide has been well and truly toughened in the last few years, so I’ll cry if I want to, just another mad woman, move along, nothing to see here.
It saddens me that despite the fight we put up since my son died, trying to raise awareness about the dangers of these drugs, I still get to hear idiots like your man on the radio spouting the ‘chemical imbalance theory’ as fact. Despite getting the real experts into Leinster House, who informed Minister Kathleen Lynch of the dangers of these drugs (who then nodded her head and did sweet fock all), doctors are still over-prescribing and people are still dying in our little country every day. Despite Senator David Norris bringing the issue up in the Seanad and Jan O’Sullivan bringing it up in the Dail, nothing has changed. In fact the over-prescribing is getting worse and the misinformation (like this morning on East Coast Radio) is rampant. Dr Kelly on ‘The Right Hook’ is not alone in spouting misinformation as fact. In my opinion Patricia Casey and Ted Dinan as ‘expert professors’ in psychiatry (who deny the suicide link to antidepressants) have laid a pretty solid foundation for ‘SSRI misinformation’ in Ireland. I’ll keep chipping away with the auld nail scissors and I for one will be very surprised if I don’t topple that wall! Maybe my irrational self-belief means I’m a model to be diagnosed with PTSD or even Psychosis? Pass the prescription pad, Celexa at the ready? At least my heart attack may be helped on it’s way! If my sisters or brothers are reading this, I’m fine. Don’t even think of a ‘just passing and I thought I’d call in’ visit! No family conferences to see what can be done about the grieving one! Just having a bad day; back to my old caustic self tomorrow, I promise.
Ps. The radio show ‘expert’ was Sean Duke. “With some people the serotonin level is extremely low and they can get depressed as a result.” OFFS!! Sean, described as ‘ECR’s science blogger’, can be heard here at ’10am hour’ at 55 mins.
Next week BBC’s Panorama team are tackling the issue of antidepressant use in pregnancy. The programme will be broadcast on Mon 1st july, entitled ‘The Truth About Pills and Pregnancy‘.
According to the UK Independent “The programme will broadcast an interview with Anna Wilson, whose son David spent the first five weeks of his life in hospital. A 20-week scan had shown that David had a heart defect and would need surgery immediately after being born. Anna had been taking the prescription drug Citalopram to treat her anxiety four years before her pregnancy began, and was told that she was safe to continue whilst pregnant. The show will feature interviews with Prof Pilling, who will say that GP prescription guidelines are about to be updated to take into account evidence suggesting a link with SSRIs and heart defects.”
A manufacturer contacted by the BBC denies any link to major foetal malformations (no prizes for guessing Lundbeck here).
Panorama spoke to eight mothers who had babies born with serious heart defects after taking a commonly used SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant while pregnant.
An article on BBC News stated “Lundbeck, the manufacturer of Citalopram, said a recent review of scientific literature concluded that the drug ‘does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of major foetal malformations’.”
It seems that Lundbeck are lying again or there is a serious lack of communication between the various medicines regulators and the pharmaceutical industry. Below is an adverse reaction report logged with the Irish Medicines Board involving a baby born with a Cleft Lip, associated with the mother’s use of Citalopram.
What about the following, also reported as Citalopram induced? This particular report concerns the intrauterine death of an unborn baby due to ‘Citalopram exposure during pregnancy’.
Then there was our meeting in Copenhagen with the two Lundbeck goons. We asked if Citalopram/Escitalopram was a teratogen. Their answers (or non-answers) may surprise you…
Leonie Right, will I go on because there’s no point, we’re stuck at that one? Anyway. Do you think that it’s advisable to virtually bathe foetuses in Serotonin given it is now accepted this family of drugs are firmly associated with birth defects?
Dr. Madsen Virtually bathe?
Leonie Foetuses in Serotonin – pregnancy.
Tony Pregnant women.
Dr. Madsen I don’t know what you mean by virtually bathe
Leonie I’m talking about anti-depressants are known to cause birth defects. If you think so, would it not be better if women of child-bearing age were cautioned against, perhaps even contra-indicated from using this drug? Citalopram or Escitalopram?
Dr. Madsen Em, I think in…..
Leonie Your views?
Dr. Madsen In pregnancy?
Dr. Madsen Em, I think em, physicians need to double their efforts to make sure that there is a correct risk versus eh, benefit eh, assessment of the em, of any action.
Leonie Is Citalopram and Escitalopram a teratogen?
Dr. Madsen Em, meaning, what, what, what do you mean?
Leonie Can it cause harm to foetuses? Unborn babies.
Dr. Madsen Em, obviously, in order to have our compounds approved we have done em, a large number of pre-clinical trials em, and we are constantly monitoring and the eh, while the recommendation I believe throughout, is to be, be extra cautious when administering any eh, medications to pregnant women…
Leonie Can it cause harm?….. to unborn babies?
Dr. Madsen Anything can cause harm, can cause harm in any dose
Leonie So yes it can.
Dr. Madsen depending on dose
Em, why if it can cause harm, is this not clearly, clearly stated on the packaging and information leaflet?
Mr. Schroll Do you talk about the patient leaflet or do you talk about the SPC, the label that the Doctors use in order to prescribe the medication?
Leonie I’m talking about a pregnant woman that goes down and gets it in the chemist. Is it on the patient information leaflet?
Mr. Schroll In the patient leaflet it says you have to talk to your Doctor….
Leonie And what does it say in the Doctor’s leaflet?
Mr. Schroll That he has to be extra cautious. I think that if you go to the… to, to the Irish home page, I believe it is like that, it’s like that in Denmark and elsewhere. If you go to the medicines agency authorities
Mr. Schroll the medicines agency authorities you can see what is in the checks that the Doctors and that is up to them to decide…..
Leonie So you are passing the buck back to the Doctor again.
Mr. Schroll I think when it’s prescription medication, yes. If it was eh, eh,
Leonie And will they be told that it can harm their unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll Sorry?
Leonie Will the pregnant woman be told that the drug can, can harm her unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll It would be part of the discussion to talk about the risks and the benefits and that would be up to the Doctor.
Leonie It would be up to the Doctor to tell them that the drug can harm their unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll Eh, now, you’re talking…..
Leonie It’s not up to Lundbeck, no? It’s up to the Doctor to tell the woman that the drug can harm their unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll To be cautious, yes, yes.
The Irish word ‘amadáin’ springs to mind. I could think of a few English ones too but think I’d better refrain. The Panorama programme should be excellent viewing as usual, particularly with Shelley Jofre as reporter. She did the previous expose concerning GSK and Seroxat suicides. I can see her putting Lundbeck in their place.
It amazes me how celebrities involve themselves with pharmaceutical companies without feeling the need to find out some background information. Gaybo, Mary McEvoy, Johnny Logan, Niamh Kavanagh, Alan Quinlan and Boh’s FC have all supported Lundbeck’s ‘Lean on me’ campaigns. Even the mental health ‘charity’ Aware have gotten in on the act, despite the doubling of suicide and violence risk when starting SSRIs, including Lundbeck’s Citalopram aka Escitalopram. Then there are the ‘experts’ or Key Opinion Leaders (KOPs) Patricia Casey and Timothy Dinan who have been (and in the case of Timothy, still are) paid for their services to Lundbeck. Whether they have been paid to defend Lundbecks drugs or do it voluntarily, I do not know.
Lundbeck have previously been found guilty of breaching advertising rules, promoting Citalopram under the guise of a depression website, been accused of an ‘utterly disgraceful lack of scientific documentation’ concerning Citalopram, found guilty of fraud and corruption concerning the licencing of their drug Denxit and after acquiring the rights to Indocin IV (used for heart defects in premature babies) promptly upped the price by 1,300 percent. Lundbeck’s vice president said at the time“We can price these almost anywhere we want given the product profiles.”
So what could possibly top that in the dubious company/corruption stakes? Lundbeck are first to create a precedent once again. This time in the case of a ‘pay-for-delay’ fine by the European Commission; 93.8 million euros to be precise. According to the Copenhagen Post “Internal documents uncovered during the investigation mentioned a ‘club’ that facilitated the transfer of large amounts of money among members. Lundbeck paid significant amounts to buy up and destroy competitors’ inventories of generic medications. Generic manufacturers who were in on the scheme were also fined by the commission.”
So maybe these celebrities are doing it for the the good of mankind, for the money, or for a bit of both; whatever the reason, no amount of celebrity endorsement will turn this pharmaceutical company into an ethical, law-abiding corporation.