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The Pharmaceutical Industry’s Influence in Irish Politics and Medicine.

Enda and James

The pharmaceutical industry has a long and tangled involvement within Irish politics. Besides politics, our medical ‘experts’ have built up their training and expertise while simultaneously having a fundamental collegial relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma politics may not be news to Americans, Latvians or our British neighbours – but as Ireland is my Country of birth, I claim poetic licence in focusing on my specific geographical area. Corruption within this industry has been widely publicised elsewhere but there seems to be a reticence within the Irish media to report on pharma wrongdoing or the objectivity of the psychiatric expert. My son, a young Irishman, died under the influence of 17 days of Citalopram (an SSRI antidepressant) – manufactured by Lundbeck, prescribed by a doctor, licensed by the Irish Medicine’s Board (henceforth IMB) and protected by the Irish College of Psychiatry (henceforth the College).

Despite much evidence to the contrary, our health Minister James Reilly has been quoted in the media as saying that “SSRIs aren’t addictive and treat depression effectively”. He also denied that GPs are systematically over-prescribing SSRIs.[1] He subsequently managed to ignore two medical experts (David Healy and Declan Gilsenan) who gave testimony in Leinster House that antidepressants were the leading cause of death within the mental health field and were in fact causing hundreds of Irish deaths each year. According to the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association there are approximately 120 pharmaceutical companies that have plants in Ireland – including 9 of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.[2]

Last year the Irish Times reported that the Irish Government ‘came under pressure’ from the larger pharmaceutical firms over the Health Service Executives’ (HSE) decision not to approve new drugs for payment. There was an implied threat that this could ‘have implications for 25,000 jobs and future investment’ – so not surprisingly Enda Kenny and James Reilly backed down. The Times further reported that both had meetings with Abbott Laboratories and Eli Lilly, and further that Enda Kenny attended Eli Lilly’s board dinner at the Old Kinsale golf club in 2011. It is submitted that this relationship is much too close for comfort and therefore not conducive to having the Nation’s best interests at heart. Backing down under pressure from a bullying industry is never a good move, particularly when as a Nation we naturally assume that our Government is in control.

According to Dr David Healy who is regarded as the world leading expert on prescription drugs, antidepressants double the risk of suicide and violence, particularly upon starting, discontinuing and dosage change (up or down). He further stated that “antidepressants now come with black box warnings of suicide and in some jurisdictions such as Canada they come with warnings of violence also. Exactly the same mechanisms that lead to suicides lead to violence. In one case you have violence directed inward and in the other directed outwards. These mechanisms are akathisia, emotional blunting and psychosis.”[3]

The name ‘antidepressant’ itself is pure marketing genius by the pharmaceutical industry. Who would believe that these so-called magic pills can cause death, sometimes self-inflicted and extremely violent? In protecting the medical model, referring to antidepressant-induced suicide, the College stated “Anecdotal cases of suicide sometimes mistakenly attribute these tragic events to the treatment rather than the illness itself”.[4] This is a vastly differing stance compared to the IMB, the European Medicine’s Agency (EMA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The American regulator FDA slapped a black-box warning on all antidepressants, informing consumers of the increased risk of suicide.[5] The EMA followed suit requiring labelling changes to all antidepressants, again informing consumers of the increased risk of drug-induced suicidality.[6] The IMB is pretty limited in its capacity of protector of Irish citizens, deferring largely to the EMA. Interestingly, the IMB is almost fully funded by the pharmaceutical industry, so the public protector is funded by the very industry that it is supposed to be protecting the Irish people from. It should be noted that peter gøtzsche of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Copenhagen recently stated that the IMB banned GlaxoSmithKline from claiming that Paroxetine (Seroxat/Paxil) corrects a chemical imbalance.[7] That depression is caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’ is a pharma invention used as a tool to sell antidepressant drugs. That the IMB made an executive decision and actually suppressed GSK or any other pharmaceutical company is the exception rather than the rule.

We don’t have to look too far to see Governmental and pharma influence within the medical industry. The ‘Sherif Sultan Saga’ is a prime example of the bullying and intimidation of a medical professional. Mr Sultan is a consultant in Galway who received an official warning and a gag order from the HSE for speaking out on the dangers of taking statin drugs.[8] This followed the publication of his paper ‘The ugly side of Statins’.[9] Mr Sultan said what David Healy has been saying for a long time, that he and his colleagues “are fed up with trial of organizations to cover up truth about the ugly side of statin because of invested interest and commercial sponsorship.” He also stated that “We are observing the revealing of the ‘utmost medical tragedy’ of all times. It is extraordinary that the healthcare industry has inadvertently induced life-threatening nutrient deficiency in millions of otherwise healthy people.”

Similar to the attempt at suppressing Sherif Sultan, the psychiatric Professors Patricia Casey, University College Dublin, and Ted Dinan, University College Cork, involved themselves not only in my son’s inquest but also with others where antidepressants were implicated. Both had long links to the same pharmaceutical companies who manufactured the implicated drug and both without exception defended the drugs, instead blaming the supposed underlying ‘illnesses’.[10] Both these professors are supposed experts in the psychiatric field and both fiercely defend antidepressants.[11] It is submitted that the objectivity of the expert opinion is paramount, particularly where the law is concerned. As the coronial system is the only Court of law where a deceased’s family can get answers, in cases of drug-induced death, bias or even a perception of bias should automatically render these ‘experts’ excluded from the legal process.

The health of the Irish nation will never be of utmost importance while our medical professionals, the IMB and the Irish Government have a vested interest in upholding the existing ‘pharma funded’ regime. While it seems my son was just a number in the collateral damage of the latter – I urge you to protect your family, start asking questions and stop trusting these dubious so-called professionals.

[7] Peter Gøtzsche ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime’ P. 199

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Was Minister McEntee let down by the Government he loyally served?

Shane McEntee and his mum. Image courtesy of 'The Sun' Newspaper.This week sees another high profile suicide, this time a Fine Gael minister, Shane McEntee. The picture shown is of the Minister with his mum. This poor woman, who was obviously loved by her son, is now left without him and with no explanations, only a ton of unanswered questions.

By all accounts Minister McEntee was a nice man and cared deeply for his constituents, a rarity in Irish Government, it seems. Most of the papers are running with the story that he was upset about some online abuse, which he received after a recent throwaway comment he made. Cyber abuse and bullying have also been reported in relation to other Irish suicides recently. I think the media are completely missing the elephant in the room here. Minister McEntee was 56, he had been in Government since 2005, so I’m sure he was well used to different opinions and abuse thrown at him. He had been a farmer, a politician, a publican and was involved in the GAA, so he would certainly have been used to interacting with all walks of life and personalities. He  managed to get to the age of 56 before he ended his life.

Today’s Independent states “The minister was said by friends to have been under stress at the time of his death. According to sources, he had agreed to see a doctor. Friends said that several issues appeared to be weighing on Mr McEntee in the weeks and days before his death, which is in accordance with expert opinion on suicide.”

I’ll tell you what I think happened: Minister McEntee was feeling under pressure and the cyber abuse wasn’t helping. He went to his doctor for help. The first line of treatment which uninformed doctors will dish out, is antidepressants, usually SSRIs. These drugs which double the suicide risk, can cause: Suicide, Violence, Mania, Worsening depression and of course Akathisia. Described as inner restlessness, Akathisia is the condition which can cause, among other things, a person to die by suicide. People who have survived this condition, have described the terrible inner turmoil, of which the only way out seems to be death as a welcome release, by whatever means. In a recent tweet, Professor Healy stated that ‘MENTAL HEALTH DRUGS CAUSE MORE SUICIDES THAN THEY PREVENT’. That’s CAUSE, in case you misunderstood!

Today the Daily Mail reported that the nurse in the radio ‘hoax call’, Jacintha Saldanha, was on antidepressants. I would have been surprised if she wasn’t.Pill question mark The majority of people who die by suicide are on these drugs. Are they working? Or are they causing these deaths? Despite the increasing number of prescriptions for antidepressants, the suicide rate is rocketing. Blame the recession, cyber bullying or as in Anna Byrne’s case, the fact that she wanted a girl and found she was carrying twin boys; IT’S THE PRESCRIBED DRUGS!

The sad thing is, if I am right and Minister McEntee had recently been prescribed these drugs, members of the Irish Government knew that these drugs are causing numerous Irish deaths. In May of this year, in a meeting with Kathleen Lynch, the Minister with responsibility for children and Mental Health, Professor Healy told her that these drugs are ‘the leading cause of death within the mental health field’. He said it’s not the condition which causes suicide but the drugs themselves as he had seen it firsthand in ‘healthy volunteers’. Dr Declan Gilsenan, forensic pathologist, told her that he ‘had more than a hunch’ that these drugs were causing suicides. Kathleen Lynch has done nothing! If I am right, she is, by her inaction,  partly responsible for Minister McEntee’s death. Enda Kenny and James Reilly are equally responsible. I have e-mailed them both with my concerns; indeed Kathleen Lynch, after the meeting in May,  said she would consult with James Reilly. The cosy relationship that the Irish Government have with the pharmaceutical industry seems to be holding their blinkers firmly in place.

How many more deaths by suicide will Ireland see before Enda Kenny, James Reilly and Kathleen Lynch will do the job they are paid to do, and protect Irish citizens instead of the pharmaceutical industry? The pharmaceutical companies have to admit, in a court of Law, that these drugs can cause suicide, yet will deny it to the public, as Lundbeck did in Shane’s case. These drugs come with a black box warning in America because of the risk of suicide, yet Irish people, due to the misinformation from Irish Psychiatry, are allowed to believe these ‘mind altering drugs’ are safe. Psychiatry’s Key Opinion Leaders (KOPs) will attend inquests to deny that these drugs can cause suicide (or violence); yet the same psychiatrists accept ‘honoraria’ (cash payments) from the same pharmaceutical companies who make the ‘implied’ drug, for speakers fees and other ‘work’. Yep, that’s an ‘independent expert’ opinion alright!

Rest in peace Minister McEntee and sincere condolences to his family.



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Eli Lilly and the Irish Government

Corruption picture courtesy of topnews.inI often wondered how involved the Irish Government is with the cesspit that is the pharmaceutical industry. I have never been able to understand why the Irish Government have failed to protect its citizens from the dangers of dubious drugs; drugs that are not illegal but prescribed to innocent people and licensed by the Irish Medicines Board.

This week it was reported that the Irish Government came under pressure from the larger pharmaceutical firms over the HSE’s decision not to approve new drugs for payment. There was an implied threat that this could ‘have implications for 25,000 jobs and future investment’. So naturally, like good little boys, our Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his sidekick James Reilly backed down.

The Irish Times reported that Minister Reilly and Enda Kenny met with representatives of ‘Abbott Laboratories’ in July. The Times further reported that James Reilly met with Andrew Hotchkiss (European boss of Eli Lilly) in June and that Enda Kenny attended the Eli Lilly board dinner at the Old Kinsale golf club on June 2011. Bit too close for comfort? This year Abbott Laboratories were fined $1.6 billion for off-label marketing of Depakote (an anti-seizure drug). They actively promoted this dangerous drug for dementia sufferers in nursing homes; nice company! Can dementia sufferers answer back?

Ah yes, then there is Eli Lilly; one of the bigger pharma companies, and one with the dubious accolade of being fined over a billion dollars for the illegal off-label marketing of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa. In previously hidden data which Eli Lilly did not want to become public knowledge, Zyprexa had the highest suicide rate in clinical trial history. If that wasn’t bad enough, the drug was known to cause diabetes in some people. Eli Lilly are also the creators of Prozac, you know the one; mother’s little helper.  Prozac has caused numerous deaths (including Maria’s son, Toran Henry) and was found, last Nov, by a Canadian Judge, to be the cause of a teenager (with no history of violence) killing his friend. Lilly’s Cymbalta was the drug that Traci Johnson (a 19 year old student) was on when she died by suicide in an Eli Lilly lab. She had no history of depression and was a ‘healthy’ volunteer.

Eli LillyUnsurprisingly perhaps, Eli Lilly are not fans of Professor David Healy, who was instrumental in getting the ‘hidden’ data released. In the internal e-mail on the left, Lilly execs stated, among other things, that conferences will not receive sponsorship if ‘Healy’ was present. You couldn’t make it up, could you?

Then there is John Virapen who I mentioned in my last post. He worked for Eli Lilly for over 30 years and describes how he bribed a Swedish Government official to ‘help’ with the licencing of Prozac. You can download a free copy of his book here. It makes for very interesting reading.

John Virapen:

“I am not afraid of my former bosses, even though I know that others, who revealed wrongdoings, have all gambled with their lives to do so. The pharmaceutical industry’s lobby is extremely powerful. It constantly lobbies politicians and the judiciary and even blackmails governments by threatening to withdraw investments or to close down sites, thus, creating unemployment in a country. Before you know it, the government backs down and plays the game, just as the industry stipulates.”

Looks like the pharmaceutical industry is calling the shots in Ireland. Collateral damage wasn’t mentioned at the dinner, was it Enda? It will be interesting to see how many of the 2o lobbying pharmaceutical companies these two representatives of the Irish public, met up with. No such thing as a free lunch? Well for the Irish people whose health is on the table, it seems not, but it seems to be a different story for our own ‘Sir Stan and Hardy’.

Does that sound very irreverent? I have zero respect for a Government, who are aware that prescribed drugs are killing people, and are burying their heads in the sand due to kowtowing to the billion dollar pharmaceutical industry. Is it an excuse to say that all Governments do it? I think not. My son was Irish, he was born in Ireland, he loved Ireland and yet he was badly let down by these ‘penpushers’ we call Ministers.


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Kathleen Lynch; Minister with responsibility for mental health?

Self-explanatory letter to the minister with responsibility for the Mental Health of Irish citizens. Tough job, but someone’s got to to it!

I would have thought that if experts were warning that SSRI’s were causing suicide, then something would have been done yesterday, not tomorrow. Didn’t Enda Kenny say if he was elected that his primary concern would be the people suffering with mental health issues? Well he was elected. These drugs can cause a person to kill themselves. Do something about THAT Enda. At the very least issue a warning to doctors because they seem to be unaware. This of course is not helped by the Irish College of Psychiatry, who protect their own interests by denying that the drugs can harm, and woe-betide anyone who contradicts that ridiculous stance. Anyway, please excuse my natural sarcasm when dealing with these people, who are allowing these drugs to continue to harm, can’t promise it wont happen again!


Dear Minister Lynch,

It is now almost two months since I, my husband, Professor David Healy and Pathologist Declan Gilsenan met with you in Leinster House. They each spoke of their concerns regarding the adverse-effects of antidepressants, indeed Prof Healy informed you that drug induced death are the leading cause of death within the mental health field. Declan Gilsenan spoke about his experience with autopsies and his intuition that SSRI’s are causing suicides. He thought at the very least that the statistics on suicide should be collated for investigation.

You replied that you would have to report back to James Reilly and would be meeting with the College of Psychiatry also. It seems that neither Professor Healy or Declan Gilsenan has heard anything back from you despite offering their services to help put a stop to future tragedies.

The Irish Human Rights Commission has investigated these drugs and has made important recommendations for practitioners. Sinead Lucey, who dealt with this investigation, has assured me the investigation is on-going and she will not stop till this issue is taken care of. I left you her number after the meeting: xxxxxxxxx

IHRC Recommendations….

(i)   Discussion of alternate therapies

(ii)  Referrals for counselling/psychiatric review

(iii) Within medical practices seek to ensure the same doctor deals with the person at all stages if at all possible;

(iv)  Oral explanation of risks/side-effects of SSRI’s in advance of prescription, together with relevant written information;

(v)   Guidelines regarding prescribing SSRI’s from initial stage through ongoing treatment;

(vi)  Level of monitoring and ongoing supervision required when SSRI’s are initially prescribed

(vii) Maintenance of adequate consultation notes; and

(viii)The necessity to obtain a full patient history before prescribing SSRI’s

If we were talking about the side-effects such as nausea or diarrhoea I could understand the delay, but considering we are speaking of people’s lives here, I do not understand. Filibustering regarding this topic is not acceptable. This is a matter of life or death. How many people have died by a drug-related suicide or homicide in the two months following our meeting? Future deaths are in your hands and as you are the Minister with responsibility in this area, I for one, will be holding you accountable.


Leonie Fennell