cipramil (celexa) stories,, lundbeck, Newspaper and internet articles

When is a suicide not a suicide?

@AntiDepAware

This blog was written by Brian today. His blog ‘AntiDepAware‘ is such a revelation. His knowledge on prescription drug-induced deaths, coupled with brilliant investigational skills, surpasses no-one that I’m aware of.

It may come as no surprise that most of the victims in this particular blog were on Citalopram. Despite drug companies admitting that antidepressants (SSRIs in particular) can cause a person to commit suicide, Coroners seem to be lagging way behind in informing themselves. Have a read for yourselves:

When is a suicide not a suicide?

Robert Keywood was married and had two daughters, lived in Kent, and worked for Kimberley-Clark as director of human resources.

A few weeks before his death, he had travelled to Poland and America on business and was having trouble sleeping. He went to see his GP, and was prescribed sleeping tablets and antidepressants.

One Friday last November, Mr Keywood drove to the Pentagon shopping centre in Chatham, where he took his own life by jumping from the top of the multi-storey car park (right). A note left on the passenger seat of his car read: “You’re better off without me, love Bob.”Multi story

Ann, his wife of almost 30 years, told the inquest her husband had acted “agitated” and “out of character” on a number of occasions before he died.

CoronerDeputy assistant coroner Alison Summers (left) said, “One gleans some insight into a particular person’s life and it’s clear to me this was very out of character,” before recording a verdict of suicide.

To give a verdict of suicide, a coroner needs to be certain that the person intended to kill himself or herself. Often, the existence of a written note is regarded as evidence of intent. In this case, Mr Keywood had written just seven words on a piece of paper left in his car.

In a case where medication could well be the cause, however, it is surely relevant to ask the question: “Would the person have killed him/herself if he/she had not been taking medication?” In this case, like so many before it, Mr Keywood had no recorded history of depression, and only began to act agitated and out of character after having been prescribed medication. From the newspaper report, it would appear probable that an adverse reaction to antidepressants was responsible for Mr Keyword’s death. Therefore, unless there are circumstances that have gone unreported, suicide may not be the correct verdict in this case.

Like Mr Keywood, Trina Clinton, a 54-year-old housewife from Redditch, took her life by falling from a multi-storey car park in March 2005. Worcestershire Coroner Victor Round originally recorded a verdict of suicide but told the court that a blood test revealed the prescribed antidepressant Citalopram in Mrs Clinton’s blood.

After Mrs Clinton’s sister-in-law said that the antidepressant “must have been a contributory factor”, Mr Round changed the verdict to “suicide while under medication”. He then modified his verdict again to record an open verdict.

In the same month, Carwyn Lewisa 38-year-old air steward from Carmarthen, was found dead in a bath full of water with a travel case full of books on top of him. He had been suffering from depression for some time.

But the coroner said he could not record a verdict of suicide because of the possible side-effects of the antidepressant drugs that Mr Lewis had been taking. He recorded an open verdict.

Ian Fox, a 65-year-old retired postal worker from Edgware, died in July 2008 after throwing himself in front of a train at Finchley Road Tube station.

He had been prescribed the antidepressant Citalopram for just one month before taking his life and he had expressed a wish to come off it, complaining of confusion and anxiety.

At his inquest, Mr Fox’s wife blamed her husband’s sudden death on the medication, saying that her husband’s action was completely out of character. She described how, until he began taking Citalopram, he had only been suffering from mild depression, brought on by retirement from his job and a foot injury.

Coroner Dr Andrew Reid recorded a narrative verdict in which he accepted that Mr Fox had jumped in front of the train, but added: “I’m satisfied he did so while the balance of his mind was disturbed while suffering the adverse effects of Citalopram.”

Brian PalmerIn September 2011, self-employed electrician Brian Palmer (left), 63, from Littlehampton, visited his GP as a consequence of financial worries. He was prescribed Fluoxetine (Prozac) and Zopiclone. A few days later, Mr Palmer shot himself.

At the inquest, Mr Palmer’s widow Jennifer told the inquest that days after Mr Palmer began taking the drugs, his mental health deteriorated. She said: “I noticed a change in him almost straight after taking the pills. I asked to see the box in the days before but he said he couldn’t find it. I found it a few days after his death and it listed all the changes I had seen in him. My heart just stopped. I didn’t go down there with him, when he picked up the prescription – I wish I had. We have had to learn the hard way. I can’t bear to think of any other families going through this kind of trauma.”

Coroner Penelope Schofield recorded a narrative verdict, in which she concluded that Mr Palmer took his own life following the prescription of antidepressant pills.

In each of the four cases above, the deaths have been linked to the victims’ reactions to antidepressant medication. Yet two of the cases resulted in open verdicts, while in the other two, narrative verdicts were recorded.

My database also contains cases where coroners have turned a deaf ear to evidence pertaining to reaction to antidepressants. This was particularly noticeable in inquests into the Bridgend hangings.

At the inquest of Christopher Ward, for example, a police officer provided the information that 29 year-old Mr Ward “had been prescribed Citalopram for depression.” Even so, Coroner Peter Maddox declared that: “There was a lack of anything in the system that would have altered his judgement, you would expect him to understand what he was doing and the consequences,” said Mr Maddox. “I can’t ignore the circumstances in which he was found, the toxicology results which suggests he was in control of his faculties.” Mr Maddox recorded a verdict of suicide, thus completely ignoring the possibility that Citalopram may have “altered his judgement”.

Lana WilliamsIn the case of 20 year-old mother Lana Williams (right), her fiancé said she had seemed “in good spirits” when he had left the house for work on the morning of her death. A police officer reported that “although Miss Williams had suffered post-natal depression, for which she was still taking medication, there was no other history of mental health problems.” After hearing the evidence, “Coroner Peter Maddox said he thought an appropriate verdict was that Lana Williams took her own life.”

It has been proposed that there should be a separate verdict for those who have taken their lives while under the influence of prescribed medication. This would be a verdict of “Iatrogenic Suicide”, the word iatrogenesis being defined as an inadvertent adverse effect or complication resulting from medical treatment or advice. This would be supported by those who are concerned that suicide figures are underestimated due to the number of self-inflicted deaths registered as open or narrative verdicts.

On the other hand, Dr David Healy writes that: “If someone jumps to their death from a 10th floor balcony under the influence of LSD, unless there is clear evidence beforehand that this was what was planned, an open verdict would be more appropriate than a suicide verdict.”

SSRIs are capable of causing similarly tragic outcomes, and bereaved families who recognised that their loved one’s death was caused by a reaction to medication would be disappointed to receive a verdict of suicide in such cases.

Cases, cipramil (celexa) stories,, lundbeck, Our story., psychiatry, Shanes story.

Automatism and the Insanity Defence

David Healy – Hearts and Minds- Psychotropic Drugs and Violence (30/04/2013)

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There is so much evidence that Psychotropic drugs can cause suicide and violence. Anyone who is considering their doctor’s advice recommending these drugs; please inform yourself of the possible consequences and watch this video first, courtesy of www.RxISK.org

Cases mentioned (In order):

Mat Miller (Age 13-Zoloft)

American woman – “GSK… Please don’t forget about me.”

Virginia Tech.

Sylvia Plath.

Joseph Wesbecker (Prozac)

Donald Schell (Paxil/Seroxat)

David Hawkins (Zoloft)

Merillee Bentley (Effexor)

M.C. (Paxil/Seroxat)

Leslie Demeniuk (Zoloft and Paxil/Seroxat)

David Rule (Citalopram)

Christopher Pittman (Age 12-Paxil/Seroxat and Zoloft)

Yvonne Woodley (Citalopram)

Sandy Hook

Daniele Canarelli (Psychiatrist found guilty)

My son Shane (Citalopram)

Newspaper and internet articles, Random

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.

……

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2012/1211/1224327730089.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/12/us/student-19-in-trial-of-new-antidepressant-commits-suicide.html?ref=cymbaltadrug

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/07/us-abbott-settlement-idUSBRE8460UK20120507

http://www.whale.to/drugs/landmark.html 

http://pharmagossip.blogspot.ie/2012/10/david-healy-rides-again-time.html

lundbeck, Newspaper and internet articles, Random

Oops…. Did pharma really say that?

Last week I came across this article on IrishHealth.com on depression where it states “It is believed that depression is linked to an imbalance of chemicals within the brain” and SNRI’s “work on both serotonin and noradrenaline to achieve a better balance of chemicals in the brain to alleviate depression”. The chemical imbalance theory again? No such thing has ever been proven!! There is no test, never has been, which can prove any chemical is related to depression. It was a theory which drug companies used (and gullible doctors copied) to persuade people that there was something inherently wrong with their brain.

……………..

Anyway, it made me think about the ridiculous things drug company representatives have said and subsequently been caught out. Here’s a selection….

(1) Pfizer, speaking of Celebrex: They swallowed our story, hook, line and sinker,” Link.

(2) Lundbeck, speaking of Indocin IV (used for treating premature babies): “We can price these almost anywhere we want given the product profiles”Link.

(3) Pfizer, speaking of Zoloft and Prozac: ‘Marketing are very aware that a patient on Zoloft involved in an incident of mass homicide could severly affect the image and commercial success of Zoloft’. “I do not think fluoxetine are ‘out of the woods’ as regards their association with violence/ suicidality.” Link.

(4) Eli-Lilly, Speaking of Prozac: “Anything that happens in the UK (England) can threaten this drug (Prozac) in the US and worldwide. We are now expending enormous efforts fending off attacks because of (1) relationship to murder and (2) inducing suicidal ideation.” Link.

(5) Eli-Lilly, Speaking of Prozac: “I do not think I could explain to the BGA, a judge, to a reporter or even to my family why we would do this especially on the sensitive issue of suicide and suicidal ideation.” Link.

(6) GSK, Speaking of Seroxat: “The evidence, however, is clear, these medicines are not linked with suicide, these medicines are not linked with an increased rate of self harm.” Of course that was before they had to admit that Seroxat actually could cause suicide Link.

(7) GSK, Again speaking of Seroxat: “I utterly refute any allegations we are sitting on data, that [we] have withheld data or anything like that.” That was before GSK were found guilty of hiding the data, including suicides, caused by Seroxat Link, and hiding the data which included heart risks and deaths caused by Avandia Link.

(8) GSK: ‘The vast majority of drugs – more than 90 per cent – only work in 30 to 50 per cent of the people, I wouldn’t say that most drugs don’t work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don’t work in everybody.” Link.

(9) Lundbeck, statement after Shane’s Inquest: “Extensive scientific studies have shown that there is no evidence linking citalopram to violent behaviour.” and “A review of all available data for citalopram (that from clinical trials and that collated after the medicine was made available) shows no increased risk of suicide.” Silly billies…They had forgotten about writing this letter to the Canadians warning of ‘self harm and harm to others’, Link

GSK’s stupid statements came courtesy of ‘Seroxat sufferers stand up and be counted’ Here. He actually gave me a page-load but I decided to keep it short!

Newspaper and internet articles, Random

Prozac led to grandfather’s suicide.

Prescription pills led to Littlehampton grandfather’s suicide  

Brian Palmer, 63, another SSRI victim.

Here’s another Coroner’s warning concerning another SSRI, Fluoxetine, also know as Prozac, and again the Coroner is left to do the job of the medicines regulator. Days after he began taking Prozac, Brian Palmer’s mental health deteriorated and he shot himself in the head.

Excerpts from Article…

THE devastated family of a grandfather who killed himself following a bad reaction to anti-depressants have urged doctors to warn patients of the possible side-effects before prescribing the drugs.

The coroner at an inquest held last Wednesday (March 14) at Chichester concluded he took his own life following the prescription of anti-depressant pills.

Speaking after the hearing, Brian’s widow Jennifer, 62, appealed to doctors to take the time to explain to their patients all the possible side-effects of any drugs they prescribe.

She said: “I noticed a change in him almost straight after taking the pills. I asked to see the box in the days before but he said he couldn’t find it. I found it a few days after his death and it listed all the changes I had seen in him. My heart just stopped.

The inquest heard how, days after Mr Palmer began taking the drugs, his mental health deteriorated.

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Penelope Schofield said: “He took his own life following the prescription of the drug Fluoxetine and Zopiclone.”

The coroner said she would be writing to the Fitzalan Medical Centre to advise GPs there  to warn all patients of the potential side-effects any prescribed drug can have. Full Article.

……………………………………………………………..

How much evidence is needed? There is so much evidence that Prozac and other SSRI’s can cause suicide and homicide and yet this poor man probably had no warning. At least in England, unlike in Ireland, there was no psychiatrist attending this Inquest denying that SSRI’s can cause suicide.

The first high-profile Prozac Murder/suicide; Link.

Prozac blamed for woman’s suicide; Link.

John virapen admits to bribing the Swedish Government to enable the licencing of Prozac; Link.

Then there is Maria, whose son died by by suicide less than 2 weeks after starting Prozac; Link.

Prozac defence for murder; Link.

Newspaper and internet articles, psychiatry, Random, Shanes story.

Another Irish Doctor willing to speak out about the dangers of Anti-depressants

Another Irish Doctor willing to speak out about the dangers of Anti-depressants. In today’s Irish Examiner another doctor states his opinion, contradicting the stance of the Irish College of Psychiatry; Respect to Doctor Gascoigne. The picture, by the way, is one of Shane’s that he took in Berlin on a College trip; I thought it was suitably apt.

 

Anti-depressants’ effects must be known

 Friday, March 09, 2012

In your excellent coverage of the recent comments by former deputy state pathologist Dr Gilsenan of a connection between anti-depressants and an increased risk of suicide, The College of Psychiatry of Ireland states “… there is no evidence anti-depressants can cause harm”.

It might be good if the college consults the information supplied by the pharmaceutical company which manufactures Prozac, a commonly prescribed antidepressant. It is clearly stated that Prozac can cause agitation, panic attacks, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, irritability, hostility as well as suicidal thoughts or attempts.

As a minimum, it is important that anyone prescribed an anti-depressant should be fully informed of possible adverse effects, it should only be prescribed as part of a recovery plan with appropriate psychological support and people must be monitored regularly.

Dr Stephen Gascoigne
Market Quay
Bandon
Co Cork

http://www.irishexaminer.com/opinion/letters/anti-depressants-effects-must-be-known-186502.html

cipramil (celexa) stories,, lundbeck, Newspaper and internet articles

Are antidepressants the cause of the recent spate of murder/suicides in China? 抗抑鬱藥,最近接連發生在中國的謀殺 /自殺的原因?

抗抑鬱藥,最近接連發生在中國的謀殺 /自殺的原因?

Are antidepressants the cause of the latest spate of murder/suicides in China?

In the last year there has been a series of newspaper articles concerning recent murder/suicides in China. It seems that this kind of tragedy was virtually unheard of in China until recently. China is relatively new to the antidepressant market, I wouldn’t be too sure that the Chinese are aware of the dangers; I’m sure the various drug companies are not volunteering the information that these drugs can actually cause both suicide and homicide.

As you my be aware, my son killed himself and another young man in Aug 2009. I have the expert report which Professor Healy did for Shane’s Inquest, stating that, in his opinion, this was caused by Cipramil. For anyone that wants to read his report, I have blanked out the names of the other people involved but will attach it here…Professor Healy’s Report March 2010.

Back to China…

School attacks in the People’s Republic of ChinaWikipedia

A series of uncoordinated mass stabbings, hammer attacks, and cleaver attacks in the People’s Republic of China began in March 2010. The spate of attacks left at least 21 dead and some 90 injured.

Kindergarten killings are a turning point for ChinaThe Telegraph

The series of kindergarten murders that has swept across China marks a turning point for Chinese society.

In a country which reveres children – especially since the one-child policy was introduced in the late 1970s – it is difficult to imagine how any atrocity could be worse than the premeditated murder of innocent toddlers. Since March 23, when a mentally-unstable doctor stabbed eight primary school children to death, each copycat attack has added to parents’ fears.

Life on the margins of Chinese society has always been unfair and difficult, but it is near impossible to imagine the rage that must have driven these men to slit the throats of young children. Clearly, something is very rotten in China.

Exactly what is going on in China?? The Moderator

Exactly what is going on in China?

A rash of bloody, knife and meat cleaver murders of small school kids by adults have stunned China, a country where children are treasured. It seemingly matches the inexpicable killing sprees that peppered American history over the past few decades. The question is “why.” And the answer so far is: “no one knows” — but a lot of parents now fear.

……………………..

The most widely-used antidepressants in China by the end of last year were GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil/Seroxat (paroxetine) with a value market share of 18%, followed by Pfizer’s Zoloft (sertraline; 10%) and Eli Lilly’s Prozac (fluoxetine; also 10%). Lundbeck’s older drug Cipramil (citalopram), also sold by Xian-Janssen, and Lexapro had market shares of 6.5% and 3.0% respectively.

Soo,  the Chinese people have been introduced to Seroxat, Prozac, Zoloft, Cipramil and Lexapro which can cause suicide and homicide ideation and there has been a spate of murder/suicides. Now isn’t that a co-incidence.

Has it anything to do with Lundbeck’s recent marketing push on Lexapro in China?

Lundbeck to establish a strong, dedicated sales… FE Investegate

Lundbeck will substantially increase sales and marketing efforts behind Lexapro in China. Lundbeck already has a foothold in China and stands to benefit from the rapidly evolving Chinese CNS market.

Lundbeck sees China as land of opportunity for Lexapro…PharmaTimesOnline

Lundbeck has unveiled plans to double its sales force in China with a specific emphasis on promoting the blockbuster Lexapro in the growing antidepressant market there.

So it begs the question, considering all of the above drugs can cause suicide and homicide, how many of the perpetrators were on an antidepressant?

One worrying aspect is that Lundbeck have just launched Lexapro in Japan. So it remains to be seen if the next headlines will be “School attacks in Japan” and “Exactly what is going on in Japan”?

GSK have already trialed the notorious Seroxat on Japanese  7-17 year olds, despite the fact that ssri’s have been proven to be detrimental to children, even causing deaths. But then, what do you expect from a company with such dubious ethics (on an equal par with Lundbeck) who see no moral issue with doing drug trials on children as young as 7?  Link. 

cipramil (celexa) stories,, lundbeck, Newspaper and internet articles, Our story., psychiatry, Shanes story.

Professor David Healy and “The Cardinals Of Psychiatry”

THE CARDINALS OF PSYCHIATRY

Professor David Healy MD FRCPsych – September 24th 2011.

Slightly over 10 years ago the previous Pope convened a meeting of US cardinals when it became clear that the Catholic Church faced a major child abuse problem.

 We face a comparable crisis in psychiatry – and medicine.  There is no medical pope but there are lots of Cardinals and it is not clear that our Cardinals are getting to grips with the crisis any better than the US Cardinals or Irish Cardinals have done.  

There is a widespread recognition that there is a problem.  In terms of pinpointing what is wrong, the answer most often heard today is that medical academics are paid by the pharmaceutical industry to give talks and to run clinical trials.   That they have conflicts of interest.  Supposedly because they are paid, they offer views that suit the industry.  This is not where the problem lies.

The Original Sin as it were lies in a drug crisis surrounding Thalidomide and a set of safeguards we put in place in 1962 to prevent a repeat. 

Factor 1: Product Patents – The one True Faith

One part of the problem lies in a system that makes drugs available under product patents.  Product patents were the system under which drugs were made available in the United States before 1962.  Of 77 countries surveyed at the time by US officials investigating patenting systems, 28 allowed product patents and in these countries the prices of drugs ranged from 18 to 255 times higher than in the non-product patent countries. 

The main European countries at the time offered process patents – if a company could find another process to synthesize a drug it too could bring the product to market.  This system made it less likely that a company could make a fortune from one drug and encouraged them to hold a portfolio of compounds.   

But after 1962 and the thalidomide crisis there was a switch to product rather than process patients and this is now the worldwide system.  This lays the conditions for pharmaceutical companies to make blockbuster products out of their drugs.  Blockbuster drugs are drugs that earn a billion dollars per year or more for a pharmaceutical company.

The first blockbuster drug was Zantac, a treatment for ulcers, in 1985.    This was followed by antidepressants like Prozac.  Some drugs like the statin, Lipitor, have pulled in revenues of $13 billion per year for the company that markets them.  I say market because companies are increasingly unable to make drugs.   Pfizer did not discover Lipitor; they licensed it in.

If we consider the mark-up for which these drugs sell, over the cost of the raw ingredients, a mark-up that in some cases rises to several thousand percent, these drugs are literally worth more than their weight in gold to pharmaceutical companies.  As a result, the fortunes of many companies have come to depend critically on one or two key drugs.  This means they have to hype the benefits of drugs and they have to hide the problems, as is brought out by a quotation from Leigh Thompson of Eli Lilly in connection with Prozac.

“I am concerned about reports I get re UK attitude toward Prozac safety.  Leber (FDA) suggested a few minutes ago we use CSM database to compare Prozac aggression and suicidal ideation with other antidepressants in UK.  Although he is a fan of Prozac and believes a lot of this is garbage, he is clearly a political creature and will have to respond to pressures.  I hope Patrick realizes that Lilly can go down the tubes if we lose Prozac and just one event in the UK can cost us that.” 

As regards conflicts of interest, a little noted conflict is that this system has been lucrative for the major shareholders of pharmaceutical companies.  In the case of Lilly, the makers of Prozac and Zyprexa, company employees received over $3 Billion worth of share options from the time Prozac came to market.

In terms of saving lives-souls, Product Patents are the equivalent of the Catholic Church insisting there is only one true way to salvation – that the alternate Christian or other routes just don’t do it.

Factor 2: Prescription-only Status: Stockholm Syndrome

A second factor is the fact that all modern drugs are made available on prescription only.   This was a system that was introduced in 1914 to control drug addicts.  You could always get drugs on prescription from your doctor but we didn’t have a system which meant that these drugs could be available on prescription only.   In 1951 the system was extended to cover all new drugs.  There was considerable opposition to extending a system designed for addicts to cover the entire population.  But in 1962 because of the thalidomide crisis this arrangement was copper fastened in place.

There are a number of aspects to this problem that were not considered at the time.  In terms of conflict of interest this systems delivers most doctors several hundred thousand dollars per year – vastly more than academics make from giving lectures or doing other things for pharmaceutical companies. 

Second it means that that when pharmaceutical companies market drugs they don’t have to focus on the entire population.  They only have to focus on a very small number of people who prescribe drugs – a very naive group of consumers – and they understand them better than these people understand themselves.

Third in August 1973, a bank robbery at the Kreditbanken in Stockholm triggered a 5-day siege with bank employees held hostage.  After the siege ended, to the surprise of everyone many of the hostages, as if hypnotized, spoke well of their captors.  “Stockholm syndrome” was born.  Now recognized as common, the conditions that trigger this change in behavior are isolation, a fear that your life is at risk and kindness on the part of the hostage takers. 

Disease isolates us as profoundly as incarceration or anything else might.   Our lives are at risk, and our doctors who control the exit to freedom are almost certain to be kind.  But not a single doctor is trained to manage Stockholm syndrome, to suspect that our apparent insouciance or congenial conversation might conceal deep unhappiness with a proposed course of treatment or worse again alarm at new problems that have emerged on treatment.

Since 1973, doctors are increasingly likely to suffer their own variant of Stockholm syndrome.  If something goes wrong with a treatment a doctor gives, even though the label may concede that the drug can cause the problem, the makers of the drug and the doctor’s colleagues will deny that it is likely to have done so in any particular case.  Speaking up about a problem, once the material of medical advance, is now a recipe for professional suicide.  A doctor attempting to rescue a patient is likely to be accused of being a persecutor who victimizes the patient by withholding effective treatment.

Offers to describe problems at professional meetings are turned down.  Journals are ever less likely to accept publications outlining a new problem.  Invitations to apply for better jobs, to attend conferences, or simply to go with colleagues to local eateries funded by drug companies are ever less likely to happen for doctors linked to adverse events.  Those holding doctors hostage have been very kind indeed – there are ever fewer medical departments or medical conferences not awash with company support, when it comes to paying for meals with colleagues most doctors have forgotten what a credit card looks like, and of course in supplying drugs they supply the objects that make doctors desirable.

As a result bit-by-bit over the last 40 years any of us having a problem on treatment have been disappearing in front of the eyes of our doctors who in turn are increasingly inaudible and invisible to companies, academics and regulators. A key component of the fog that envelopes both us and our doctors lies in the published trials that have hypnotized everyone. Individual observations, the logic goes, are unreliable, while trials supposedly offer reliable estimates about the consequences of treatment.  When a doctor does report an adverse event to regulators, the report is invariably parked as uncertain and unreliable information.

Finally to come back to the Catholic Church, of course children in particular are in a classic Stockholm syndrome position vis-a-vis priests and this has done much to generate the problems facing the Irish Church among others.

Factor 3 Controlled Trials: The Eye of the Needle

Following the thalidomide crisis in 1962, it was thought that in order to make a drug safer one of the protections might be to keep ineffective drugs off the market.  Controlled trials were the way to do this.  Accordingly after 1962, these were set up as the eye of the needle through which the pharmaceutical industry camel would have to get if it was going to get into Heaven. 

This was not a good system to achieve what was wanted – and indeed the belief that it is a good system makes it even more dangerous.  There is no better symbol of the inadequacies of the system than the fact that the only drug that had been through a placebo controlled trial of this sort before coming to market as of 1962 was thalidomide which had been shown in a controlled trial to be an effective sleeping pill and to be absolutely safe.    

The irony is compounded by the fact that the person who undertook this trial – Louis Lasagna – was the person who wrote the requirement for controlled trials into the 1962 legislation.

 

Factor 4: The Sacred Literature: Ghost Writing

When faced with claims of abuse, the Church has asked people to lift their eyes up from individual cases and to trust in a series of Ghost-written documents.

When faced with evidence of harm on drugs, our medical Cardinals do the same thing.  They ask us to turn from individual cases of abuse (denigrated as anecdotes) to the evidence written up in controlled trials – by ghost writers.  Close to 100% of the studies undertaken on pharmaceuticals that are on patent are likely to be ghost-written or managed by companies and the apparent authors are invariably Cardinals. 

What does ghost-writing buy?  Well if you look at the suicidal acts that happened in the clinical trials that brought Fluoxetine, Sertraline and Paroxetine to the market, you find there is an entirely different distribution of acts in the published literature to what can be found when you get to see the raw data behind the trials. 

In breach of FDA and other regulations, companies have moved suicidal acts that happened in the washout-phase of trials or after the trial was over into the placebo arm making it seem like there was less risk from the active drug than there in fact is.  The control that ghost-writing gives has allowed many companies to effect similar or other manoeuvres for a range of side effects from heart attacks on Avandia to problems on Vioxx and other drugs.

How in these circumstances is your doctor going to know that there is this risk to these drugs?  Well, she isn’t. But both the regulators and our Cardinals know about it and although the dimensions of what happened have been known about for a decade no-one has been held to account.

Factor 5: Common Law & Canon Law?

But there is a further problem with trials.  Fifty years ago before all these drugs were introduced doctors and patients were much more confident in the observations they made about whether treatments were working or not. Controlled trials have usefully brought to light the biases both doctors and patients may bring to such observations but the pendulum seems to have swung too far so that few doctors or patients find they are able to believe the evidence of their own eyes today.   When patients get huge on the antipsychotic group of drugs if the controlled trial hasn’t shown that actually happens, then it isn’t happening. 

Here’s how it’s done.  The reliability of clinical observation is denigrated as poor and this problem can supposedly only be overcome by having 100s of patients exposed to a treatment.  If there isn’t any change on a pill then most of the observations should lie here right over the figure 1.0  If both doctor and patient come to the conclusion that good things are happening the curve will move over to the left.  If they come to the conclusion bad things are happening the curve will move over to the right.  

Now look at slide 12 which shows a statistically significant doubling of the risk of death on Drug A which may otherwise be very helpful for some condition.  Now take drug B which can help the same condition but in this case our best data suggest there is a 4 times greater risk of death than on drug A.  The data on drug B however are not statistically significant – perhaps simply because the company has ensured not enough patients are recruited to the study for there to be a risk of the inconvenient observations becoming significant.

Now anyone working in a drug company or a regulatory body asked to treat her own child or parent or partner would use drug A rather than drug B because it is the safer drug to take.  But when it comes to debate in the public domain these same people tell you drug A is the risky drug and there are no problems at all linked to drug B.   No problems at all.

Here is the data on Prozac and suicide to bring home the point. When the first reports of people becoming suicidal on Prozac blew up, these were dismissed by the company, by the regulators and our Cardinals as anecdotes.  The evidence we were told pointed the opposite way – that there was no risk.  This is most clear in the case of an article in the BMJ in 1991 which purported to show all the trials done by the company and the data from those trials.

The distribution of the suicidal acts in this BMJ article shows an almost doubling of the risk of problems on Prozac compared to placebo.  We can agree with the company that the increased risk is not statistically significant but it would be obvious even to a 12 year old schoolboy or girl that what the company then write which is that “data from these trials do not show that fluoxetine is associated with an increased risk of suicidal acts or emergence of substantial suicidal ideation among depressed patients” is just wrong.

This is why I think a simple conflict of interest argument is wrong. 100,000 people read the BMJ.  They are not all paid by the pharmaceutical industry to conclude there is no risk from the drug.   There are many people who read the BMJ that don’t work in medicine.  There are many that read the BMJ who work in the asthma field, the cardiovascular field.  They don’t have any vested interest to conclude that antidepressants aren’t causing a problem.   A 12 year old school child will see there is an increase in risk on this drug but all the professionals in the world it seems don’t see it provided the data is not statistically significant. 

Companies trade on this, as this quote from Paul Antony of Pharma shows:

“FDA will send out this information, which they concede is just early signal information … But I want you to think about it in terms of your reputation. It’s really the reputation of a brand that’s being signaled. Imagine someone reporting that they had early information that you may be a child molester. I know that sounds extreme, but it’s that type of thing.

“It’s just an allegation [However] that’s what people will remember, and that’s the reason there’s a lot of concern about presenting early signal information when you don’t really have any proof. It is very different than the kind of rigorous process we had in the past, where you had to do a trial, and it had to be statistically significant before you presented that”.

What you see here is the most sophisticated version ever of the Doubt is our Product strategy pioneered by the tobacco companies in the 1960’s.

The real Burn in Hell moment comes in this quote from Ian Hudson, then head of Global Safety in GSK, asked if paroxetine – Seroxat/Paxil can make people suicidal says:

A:        It is impossible, on an individual case basis, from individual reports, to assign causality … That’s why, when we have issues, we review all the available data and make a determination .. whether there is an issue or not.

Q:        Okay. Do you believe that it is possible that Paxil has caused any person worldwide to commit an act of homicide or suicide?

A:        I have seen no evidence to suggest that at all.

This is Burn in Hell because GSK and other companies on issues such as suicide, birth defects or other problems – regularly on the basis of individual cases make judgements that it is almost certain that their drug has caused a problem.

While Hudson was saying this GSK and other companies and regulators had compelling trial data on file showing the increased risk on Seroxat. 

The crisis only came to a head some years later when an article appeared in the BMJ showing that when the accumulated scientific literature was assembled that the increase in risk had become statistically significant.  What slide 18 shows is that from 1988 – two years before the first reports appeared that people became suicidal on Prozac – the clinical trial data showed a 3-fold increase in risk.   Despite this regulators and Cardinals and company personnel said the evidence from abused people was at odds with the “science” – and who are you the public going to believe?

It was only 15 years later that the regulators were prepared to say there was an increase in risk.   Even though there is no increase in risk from the clinical trial data – all that had happened was that an accumulation of data had made the risk significant. 

What you need to know is that we are now systematically training doctors these days to make exactly that kind of mistake the whole time.  They are being trained to say that if the results are not statistically significant you don’t pay any heed to them.  Our problems are going to get worse – not better.

While articles like the BMJ article remain unpublished and while companies fail to undertake the studies to properly explore the issue, companies, regulators and our Cardinals take thousands of convincing treatment induced injury cases and consign patients and their families to Limbo, and continue to claim in public there is no issue. 

This is true for Vioxx, where in the controlled trials of 4,300 patients taking it there were 17 heart attacks.   In the 4,300 patients taking placebo in just the same trials there were 4 heart attacks.   But the data were not statistically significant  so the company could publish an article in a journal read by 100,000 people from all over medicine and from all parts of the world and depend on people to say there is no increase in heart attacks on Vioxx.  The Avandia story is exactly the same story.

Factor 6 The Inquisition

When I was growing up most Irish authors were banned in Ireland.  The Church could impose its will on what we were allowed read or not.  I suspect we pride ourselves now on having overthrown this layer of control that in some circles might even be called tyranny.

More recently, John Cornwell as you see here wrote two books – one on Prozac, suicide and homicide and one on Pius XII.  Those of you schooled on Dan Brown’s Da Vinci code will no doubt think that JC will have had far more difficulties with the Vatican since than he had with Lilly.  Quite the contrary.  Lilly threatened to sue him in many different countries and have made his life far more difficult than the Vatican have.

This is not surprising.  When Joseph Glenmullen’s Prozac Backlash came out, the Boston Globe, Newsday in New York, and other media outlets received a number of unsolicited critiques of the book. These included a commentary from John Greist of the University of Wisconsin, a witness for Lilly in the Wesbecker case. Another was by Graham Emslie, a leading advocate of SSRIs in children. A third came from David Dunner, a clinical triallist for Lilly and member of the 1991 FDA panel on Prozac. A fourth came from Harvey Ruben of Yale. All followed a standard line about the devastating disease that was depression, the weight of research behind Prozac, and the patients who would commit suicide because they had been scared off treatment.

In one commentary Tony Rothschild claimed to be “disheartened that Dr. Glenmullen bolsters many of his arguments and proves his hypotheses by borrowing liberally from others’ work including my own….at no point did Dr. Glenmullen consult me directly to question my studies, two of which he conveniently uses to prove his argument”.

I had tried unsuccessfully to contact Rothschild to talk about just this. It was well known that Carol Locke, the senior author on the Rothschild and Locke publication, stood by her view that the study pointed toward a causal relationship between Prozac and suicidality. Jerrold Rosenbaum from Massachusetts General, who apparently owned up to not having read the entire book, was also quoted in the material sent to the Globe. When approached by the Globe and asked about his consultancy with Lilly, he claimed that pretty well every senior figure in psychopharmacology had consultancies with a range of different companies—that in fact it was impossible to function in this world without these links.

The commentaries sent to Newsday in New York included a delicious covering letter from Robert Schwadron of Chamberlain Communications Group: “The book preys on the fear of people with clinical depression, and may prompt some people to abandon their medication and seek medically unproven alternatives for a debilitating disease with potentially life-threatening consequences.. If we can offer you any information, or some balance to a story you may be planning, we would be more than happy to oblige. We can arrange for interviews with spokespeople from Eli Lilly and Company, as well as with independent researchers from the medical community.

Chamberlain Communications Group were Lilly’s PR agency in New York.  The Globe materials came from Rasky Baerlein, another PR group working for Lilly.  

This is not all I have many articles that have been through the peer review process and been accepted in the best journals, only to be held up by the legal department of journals too scared to publish for fear of the pharmaceutical industry.  The ultimate symbol of this is when Index on Censorship self-censored the publication of materials that were all entirely in the public domain. 

But in addition as the following freedom of information documents show there is probably someone here in the audience today whose brief it is to see if I can be sued:

103      Healy long term strategy.

            Thank you for the message outlining your strategy to counteract Dr David Healy’s claims re: Prozac and violence. Send a letter to Healy designed to get him to stop discussing a study that he has never done. Have a third party expert in the audience at BAP to ask Healy questions when he presents.

            Just last Thursday Healy was quoted in a Cincinnati paper saying Prozac causes violence and suicide…X has asked that we go back to legal and determine if we can sue Healy under UK law.

 Huge turn out… Good talk.  Lesson no sponsor if Healy present in future.

When inside pharmaceutical companies I find evidence that colleagues, Cardinals of Psychiatry, have been consulted to get information on Healy that might be potentially damaging. 

And in talks such as this one recently by David Nutt at the Royal College of Psychiatrists meeting in the UK, I am libelled as a scaremongerer.

This slide is interesting in that it makes clear that Dr Nutt feels he cannot brand me as a treatment denier or illness denier – the libel is Scaremongerer.

There may be many here today who deny mental or other illnesses exist or deny that medical or psychiatric treatments do any good – I would say to you the industry will not be very interested in you because neither the public at large nor doctors in general will go along with this – despite all the evidence of abuse you see here today.

Being a Scaremongerer however involves mastering the science – you cannot make claims about the hazards of a treatment without being sued unless you have the science right. 

One suggestion I have is that the highest aspiration anyone should have is to be a Scaremongerer.  We should turn this word around – make it a badge of honour, like Gay Pride or Mad Pride.  It is precisely for this reason that drugs were made available on prescription only so that doctors might ferret out their hazards and in the belief that doctors would have what it takes to stand up to pharmaceutical companies.  The average person facing Pharma was like a child in the hands of a priest who could threaten eternal damnation but doctors would be neither children nor accomplices in the face of abuse.

Final Acts of the Tragedy

We are facing a true tragedy – a system put in place with the best of intentions to prevent injuries from drugs in general but symbolized in particular by injuries to babies in utero is now leading to just the outcomes it sought to avoid.

In the case of the SSRIs as the evidence mounts that these drugs cause birth defects, doubling the rate of major malformations, doubling the rate of miscarriage, increasing rates of voluntary terminations and more than likely leading to learning disabilities/autism in a significant number of children born to mothers on these treatments, we have nevertheless a mounting use of these drugs.  Where antidepressants were once used rarely in pregnancy they are now among the most commonly used drugs – up to 15% of pregnant women. 

This use is actively promoted by our Cardinals, who collectively make it almost impossible for articles to get published drawing attention to the issues.   It is a world where articles can only get published in Vogue or other such outlets – outlining the case of Gina Fromm who for instance when she became pregnant in 2004, did a range of things that few women would have done in 1962 – she took cold rather than hot showers in case she might harm her baby, stopped eating yoghurts and incinerated any chicken because of the risk of bacteria from listeria to salmonella. She balked at taking prenatal vitamins, though she had been taking Paxil following a fleeting episode of anxiety.  She continued to take it through her pregnancy; she had found stopping difficult and her doctor reassured her it posed no risk to her baby.  On February 2nd 2005 her son Mark was born with congenital heart defects.

Two recent inquests in which I gave evidence bring out the deeper problems.  One was Shane Clancy’s inquest in April 2010.  This young man put on citalopram had a classic adverse reaction to it, becoming suicidal early on.  His doctor continued the treatment and a few weeks after starting treatment he killed himself and another young man in terrible circumstances.  The deaths bore all the stigmata of SSRI induced problems.  I gave testimony to this effect at his inquest and the jury agreed that it was not possible to return verdicts of suicide (and by extension homicide). 

Some of the senior Irish Cardinals got involved in the case – engaging the media and others before, during and after the case, stating that antidepressants came with no problems and that the tragedy in this case would be if publicity led to a drop in the use of antidepressants.  The Irish College were pressed into making a statement supporting the use of antidepressants. 

The reaction from a retired senior academic was as follows:  “I am afraid I agree with Healy – the College is plain wrong. There is no such thing as a college statement which is circulated to the membership simultaneous with its publication, without opportunity for comment or vote and “in unison” with a body 100% financed by drug companies, and with personal hostile references to expert testimony at an inquest with families still in grief. And this on the heels of a dreadful multiprofessorial letter even before the inquest began. Extraordinary and outside my experience. If I were not retired I’d dissociate and publicly resign”.

The second case involved Yvonne Woodley a woman in her early 40s also put on citalopram who had a classic case of treatment induced agitation that worsened as her dose was increased to the point where she hung herself in her house with her children downstairs. 

In this case as in the Clancy case, company spokespeople insisted that they did not believe citalopram had contributed to the problem and gave the impression that they did not believe it could contribute to the problem. 

The coroner however asked the medical representative for the company – can your drug cause people to commit suicide?  In response to this Dr Chris Muldoon had no option but to agree it could. 

Companies are legally obliged to agree that their drugs cause people to commit suicide.  Our Cardinals are not legally obliged.  And here is where they offer one of the greatest services they can to companies – they can and regularly do offer Apologias for industry.  They have become industry’s way around the law and any moral code that may apply in this domain.  They state in public that not only did the drugs not cause a problem in the Clancy or Woodley cases but that they cannot cause a problem.  Done behind closed doors this behaviour is one thing; taking the issue to the media is quite another.

At the height of the controversy about antidepressants and suicide in children in 2004, when US regulators issued a black box warning on the drugs, the American Psychiatric Association issued a suicide note.  They stated “The American Psychiatric Association believes that antidepressants save lives”.  If the drugs work well and are free of problems given how much psychiatrists cost to employ, it would be better for health systems to employ nurses or pharmacists who can prescribe.  APA should have said “The American Psychiatric Association believes that Psychiatrists save lives”.

The Irish College has made a comparable mistake.  Doctors need to wake up to the politics of the situation.

Some of you here might like to see the demise of Irish psychiatry, maybe even Irish medicine.  This talk is however delivered in the hope that psychiatrists and doctors can save themselves, in the belief that we are better off with good doctors than without. 

There is a vision here about what good care involves – that needs doctors if it is to be realized.  Just as Freud and Jung made us aware of the biases underpinning what patients say so that not all claims of abuse are based in reality, but we have since learnt to our cost that many are, so also controlled trials have made us aware of the biases doctors and patients bring to treatment but while aware of these biases both doctors and patients have somehow to regain the ability to believe the evidence of their own eyes. 

This lecture, however, is also delivered in the belief that we are not witnessing a crisis about conflicting interests where this refers to relatively small amounts of money but we are witnessing a much more profound conflict. 

“If clinical trials become a commercial venture in which self-interest overrules public interest and desire overrules science, then the social contract which allows research on human subjects in return for medical advances is broken”.

“At a time when health has become a common credo for all social classes, ethnic groups, both sexes and all age groups, concealing or distorting “our” data, data that we literally risk our lives to generate, amounts to an abuse of a sacred trust.  This is an abuse that cannot continue without the active participation of our Cardinals”.

Note:

The use of the term Cardinals in this context refers to some but not all Senior Academics in a medical discipline.

Random

Prozac, Eli-Lilly and bribing the Swedish government.

“I bribed the Swedish Government to get the licence for Prozac”. These are the words of Dr. John Virapen who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 35 years.  I have written about Dr. Virapen before because he told me about the corruption he got up to when he worked for Lundbeck. Anyway before he was employed by Lundbeck he worked for Eli-Lilly who are the manufacturers of Prozac. He refers to bribing Swedish officials because Eli-Lilly told him his job depended on it. He also says that the pharmaceutical industry have been buying doctors, picking them up in medical scool and paying their tuition to influence their prescribing. His new you-tube video is here. Link.

He was at one stage in charge of a clinical study for Prozac in one of the largest hospitals in Stockholm. The first week of the trial two of the volunteers tried to commit suicide which he admits is a well known side-effect of ssri medication.

He says that the pharmaceutical industry is now trying to target children with these drugs, Strattera, Prozac, Ritalin, Paxil, Zoloft, Ect. and that hand picked psychiatrists, paid for by the pharma industry, meet once a year to come up with new “disorders”. (unetical psychiatrists? No way!)

He says in one year 157 people were either killed or seriously injured by Strattera, among the victims was a 3 year old girl.

Eli-Lilly; NY Times continues spotlight on Eli-Lilly corruption. Zyprexa deaths and Ghostwriting.

Eli Lilly treated the American public “like guinea pigs” says Harvard psychiatrist. 
 
Eli-Lilly cases on Professor Healy’s website…                                                                                                                                                   
Let them eat Prozac.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                    

 Prozac;

Scientist weeps at inquest into Prozac death.  Professor Hay told the coroner he was looking into the role of Prozac in his wife’s illness and whether the standard one-a-day 20mg dose was too much for some people.

Prozac killed my wife.

Eli Lilly, the manufacturers of Prozac, gave the usual Inquest statement: “There is no credible scientific evidence that establishes a causal connection between Prozac and violent or suicidal behaviour.”

So tell me, what do our politicians and IDA officials talk about when they meet up with Eli-Lilly personel? Looks like there having fun. I guess they’re not talking about Maria’s son Toran, who was 17 when he killed himself on Prozac. Link. Or maybe the murder/suicide of William and June Forsyth in Hawaii?  Link. Or was it the upcoming Prozac murder trial tommorrow? Link. What about the Wesbecker Trial which Eli-Lilly secretly settled while the trial was ongoing, or maybe they talked about Tracy Johnson the 19 year old volunteer who killed herself in the Lilly Lab during a drug trial? Link. No? Didn’t think so!

Newspaper and internet articles, psychiatry

The dark side of depressants…oops I meant anti-depressants!

I received an e-mail this morning from a fellow blogger and a like minded friend with first hand experience of ssri’s and who said…”I think you might be interested in this, it’s from 2004.. Quite shocking that they have known for so long”.

It is quite shocking how the evidence has been around for so long and 7 years later we have actually gone backwards! In this article even Patricia Casey admits that some GPs are wrongly prescribing SSRIs, that the drugs don’t work for everyone and even more surprisingly did not deny the stated side-effects in this article! So what has happened in 7 years?  The evidence is still there, more compelling evidence is emerging connecting suicide and acts of violence with ssri antidepressants, and more experts and whistleblowers are telling the truth about Pharmaceutical company corruption. Yet, instead of more awareness, psychiatry in Ireland will still deny any problems, subsequently doctors will be unaware or unsure, and the Irish Medicines Board will not do their job properly and investigate! (And my lovely son will still be dead!)

Excerpts from an article published in the Irish Independent on Thursday June 03 2004

 The dark side to the ‘happy pills’

1. As a result of anxiety, stress, phobias and depression, 300,000 Irish people take anti-depressants. There are fears they can be a prescription for self-mutilation, suicide and even murder
.
.2.An estimated 80% of anti-depressants prescribed here are SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors). They include drugs like Seroxat, Prozac and Cipramil.
.

3. But there’s a dark side to the so-called ‘happy pills’ that have taken Ireland by storm. As evidence of their dangers becomes increasingly compelling, there’s a huge groundswell of concern among medical experts that not only do SSRIs not work for many people, but they can be a prescription for suicide, self-mutilation and even murder.

.

4. Many medical experts say the most popular medical answer to the unhappiness caused by adversity is worse than the hellish state it’s prescribed to treat. They say the distressing and sometimes fatal side-effects and withdrawal symptoms of SSRIs are a chemical time-bomb ignored by doctors and flatly denied by pharmaceutical companies.

5. Irish doctors are in the firing line from their own colleagues for unwisely and dangerously over-prescribing SSRIs. The war of words is reaching fever pitch.The stakes are enormously high: Irish people’s health and lives are on the line. So are doctors’ reputations and the financial health of the multinational drugs companies whose billion-dollar earnings are boosted by the huge success of SSRIs.

6. The case against SSRIs has been building with relentless force. The US Food and Drug Administration says that from 1997 to 2002, the six most popular SSRIs were suspected of triggering 3,309 incidents of suicide, attempted suicide or hostile, violent behaviour in America. Suicidal or aggressive behaviour were reported in children who took the drug, more than twice as often as among adults who did.

7. Irishman David Healy is Visiting Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and Director of the North Wales Department of Psychiatry. He has written two books on SSRIs and is a leading international expert. Three years ago in Wyoming a 60-year-old doting grandfather went on a shooting spree, killing his wife, daughter and granddaughter, and then himself, after taking Paxil, the US brand name for Seroxat.

8. Two years ago BBC’s Panorama investigated Seroxat. The BBC was inundated with unprecedented feedback. The 68,400 calls and emails offered vivid stories about suicide, domestic violence, addiction, self-mutilation, paranoia, homicidal fantasies and attempted murder.

9. Tom O’Dowd is a GP and Professor at Trinity College Dublin’s Department of Public Health and Primary Care. “The side-effect that frightens me most is the suicide element.

10. Psychotherapist Dr Terry Lynch, author of Beyond Prozac, says up to a third of Irish people who take SSRIs stop taking them because of their side-effects. A very worrying side-effect is akathisia (restlessness leading to tension and panic), which has driven people to kill themselves.”

11. Three years before Prozac got the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1987, the German government refused to approve the drug, based on studies showing that previously non-suicidal people who took Prozac had three times the rate of suicide and suicide attempts than those who didn’t take the drug.

12. Patricia Casey, consultant psychiatrist at the Mater Hospital and Professor of Psychiatry at UCD, says some GPs are wrongly prescribing SSRIs. “SSRIs don’t work for negative life events, which resolve themselves with time. I’m as likely to take people off an anti-depressant as I am to put them on one. We’ve mistakenly assumed everybody with a depressed mood has a chemical depression. It’s not always the same thing.”

13. Dr Healy says SSRIs help about half the people who take them, but make many others more anxious, violent or suicidal and physically addicted.

14. Dr Michael Corry…”Depression is wrongly treated because of the notion of a chemical imbalance. Serotonin levels can’t be measured. “Depression is a normal emotional response to someone’s life experience,” says Dr Michael Corry. “Making someone realise they’ve good reason to feel depressed incredibly empowers them. Otherwise, we’re degrading what it is to be human. We need to be humanising, not chemicalising, life’s problems.”

15.”Irish doctors are in denial,” says Dr Lynch. “We’re letting our patients down by failing to educate ourselves about anti-depressants. Five or 10 years from now, the true story about SSRIs will have emerged. Questions will be asked why nothing was done to alert people about the dangers.”

 Full article here…Independent.ie