The Truthman Ruffles Goldacre’s Feathers.

Ben GoldacreNot too sure what to make of this. Truthman recently wrote a blog ‘Will The Real Ben Goldacre Please Stand Up’. Mr Goldacre is a psychiatrist and author of ‘Bad Pharma’, a book on the misdeeds of the pharmaceutical industry. What Truthman was saying was that Goldacre’s book was just a rehash of other books which came before it, eg., David Healy, Marcia Angell etc – ah feck it, it’s too hard to explain; read his blog here.

The thing that surprised me most was Goldacre’s comment on Truthman’s blog. He’s not one to shy away from an argument it seems, although Truthman did refer to Goldacre’s book as ‘impotent’ and you know how sensitive men get with ‘that’ word. He also alluded to Goldacre’s involvement or ‘non-involvement’ with GlaxoSmithKline’s supposed transparency decision; in my opinion, a non-existent publicity stunt by GSK.

I thought that Goldacre was a little churlish bringing David Healy into his comment, although then again, Truthman did mention the latter’s review of the book at issue: “An insightful (albeit also complex) review of Bad Pharma from David Healy (not so bad pharma) seems to conclude that the problem with Bad Pharma rests not upon the repetition of content already covered, or the many flawed arguments raised which seem to rally against the pharmaceutical  industry but actually often work in their favor, “but on the premium Ben puts on controlled trials not found in other books”.

Truthman is a very intelligent writer, whose research is usually impeccable. On this occasion he seems to have rubbed Ben Goldacre up the wrong way. This is a very interesting and enjoyable read (handbags at dawn) but I’m afraid you’ll just have to make up your own mind – Will The Real Ben Goldacre Please Stand Up?

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Lord Milo’s Inquest and the Mental Health Charity ‘Sane’.

Ok so I thought maybe you might be getting sick of me spouting on about the despicable Lundbeck or Pharmaceutical companies who sell pop (poison or profit); I just made that up, the madness is beginning to show I fear. Speaking of the pharmaceutical industry in an article here, Marcia Angell says“What does the eight-hundred-pound gorilla do? Anything it wants to.”

Anyway you get the gist, the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most powerful industries in the world. You only have to look at Pfizer’s conduct in Nigeria, where they tried to avoid legal action for causing the deaths of 11 children in an illegal drug trial, by hiring investigators to uncover corruption links to Nigeria’s Attorney General, here.

Bear that in mind for a minute.

I have blogged before about Lord Milo Douglas, a lovely fella by all accounts who struggled with ‘bipolar affective disorder’ (not what it said on the tin!) for 10 years. A week before his suicide, Lord Milo presented himself at his GP’s surgery announcing that he had been experiencing suicidal thoughts; He was given Citalopram. A week later he was dead. Here’s my old blog if you want to read it.

Speaking after Lord Milo’s Inquest here, Marjorie Wallace of Sane said she believes that ‘Had they made the humane and commonsense judgment to override confidentiality, his wider family could have been involved and his and their suffering spared. She further statedthat the evidence that emerged in Lord Milo’s inquest raises disturbing questions.” Now forgive me Majorie but I have a few disturbing questions of my own…

What is a ‘mental health charity’ doing getting involved in a person’s death and the inquest process, which is after all, a court of law?

Sane even went as far as releasing a statement, here, where the ‘charity’ said “We believe that had Milo Douglas’ pleas for help been respected, this tragedy would not have happened.”

Really? What about Lord Milo’s change of medication? What about the doubling of suicide risk upon starting, discontinuing or changing dose (up or down) with SSRI’s? Come on, if you’re going to make statements within your ‘professional capacity’ of a mental health charity, you must surely have all the facts?

Did Lundbeck not inform you of the side-effects of Citalopram?

Is the fact that you are listed on Lundbeck’s charity page, here, as one of their ‘charity partnerships’ anything to do with your statement?                                  

Maybe I’m being a bit harsh and maybe Sane is a really good charity. That’s the thing with conflicts of interests, you can’t have it both ways. A mental health charity cannot profess to “raise awareness and respect for people with mental illness” and “To provide information and emotional support to those experiencing mental health problems” and at the same time accept funding from a pharmaceutical company that make antidepressants, which (by their own admission) can cause a person to commit suicide. As you can see, I did send my message to Sane on 12th May via Twitter but they didn’t reply.