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I’ve recently set up a PayPal account and readers have the option of making a donation towards the upkeep of this blog– should they wish to (if not- that’s totally fine too). I got the idea from reading the Guardian website (which also offers a donation option). In the digital age, broadsheet newspapers are finding it difficult to survive, and most now offer a donation option or have a paywall. I don’t expect much in the way of donations to be honest, as my blog isn’t a commercial or mainstream site, however I do believe that the research, writing, blog posts and activism, I have done over a decade here, attest to the work and dedication I have put in.

Writing and blogging, takes time and effort, and I’m proud of the work I have done for over 10 years now. I like to write anyhow, and the stuff I write about needs to be expressed. I get regular hits from the BBC and the Guardian (among many others), and I have certainly covered a wide range of controversial topics in the best journalistic manner I could over the years. I try my best to blog well, and I try to blog about interesting topics not often covered in the mainstream.

The option is there now to donate. Either way, I will continue to blog for as long as my health allows me to. I’ve recently had some health set backs, so I will be taking intermittent breaks to rest and nurture myself. There is usually always something interesting to cover on the blog, and I feel compelled to write most of the time, as it has become a passion of mine. Even if people don’t choose to donate, I will still always very much appreciate people reading, and any kind of support is always humbly appreciated.


Even if you don’t donate, I hope you enjoy this beautiful song anyhow!…




Is This A Late April Fools Joke Or What?…


Ethics & Compliance Officer at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world’s leading research based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. GSK employs over 97,000 employees in over 100 countries worldwide.GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Nigeria Plc is one of Africa’s largest consumer healthcare companies, producing leading brands such as Lucozade, Ribena and Panadol.

We are recruiting to fill the position below:

Job Title: Ethics & Compliance Officer

Requisition ID: WD205739
Location: Lagos

Position: Full time

Functional area: Governance, Ethics and Assurance

Job Purpose

  • Through the successful implementation of GSK Internal Control Framework and compliance programs, this role will support Global Ethics and Compliance (GEC) strategy to ensure that the right product gets to the right patient or consumer in the right way.
  • This role moreover supports GSK’s mission to help people do more, feel better and live longer.

Specifically, the Nigeria Country Ethics & Compliance Officer will:

  • Ensuring effective compliance oversight of the Nigerian Rx business, focusing on the Commercial business, but also bridging across other support functions including Regulatory, Quality, Medical, Supply Chain, Procurement, IT, Finance, etc., supporting the establishment of strong internal controls
  • Supporting the Nigeria General Manager of Rx to ensure compliant processes and solutions working with GEC and Business Unit leadership teams;
  • Promoting a value based compliance culture through engagement communication and training initiatives;
  • Supporting early and proactive identification and management of risks aligning with GSK’s Risk Management process

Key Responsibilities

  • Working with GSK Pharma senior leaders across designated departments to lead the implementation of a values-based compliance program in Nigeria and to promote a values-based culture in a way that supports GEC and Pharma strategies.
  • Partnering with Pharma senior business leaders to proactively identify, evaluate and manage risks, in accordance with Policy 500 and GSK internal control framework, in a way that enables sustainable business growth.
  • Advise the business on risks associated with emerging business strategies and provide pragmatic options for risk mitigation and management. Ensure that the Nigeria based business have an effective risk management strategy that aligns with GSK’s Risk Management methodology.
  • Ensuring adequate internal controls are in place across the Nigeria business by independently assessing efficiency of the internal control framework. Provide insight, best practice, guidance and assurance to build, test and validate the robustness of these business controls. Support delivery of clear and integrated compliance solutions.
  • Driving accountability throughout Nigeria to ensure greater business transparency, speak-up culture and reinforcing trust in GSK from customers, business partners, and patients.
  • In partnership with CIT (Corporate Investigation Team), HR and Legal ensuring that reported concerns are promptly and thoroughly investigated, with suitable corrective and remediation action and discipline when appropriate. Provide oversight on all investigations from his/her business.
  • In partnership with the business, ensuring adequate preparation for internal audits of significant compliance risks and delivery of prompt responses to audit findings.
  • Serve as the main contact and coordination point for independent business monitoring. Help to identify root cause issues to eliminate key risk areas
  • Act as the champion for GSK Values; driving our Values Assurance strategy into the depths of the organisation and increasing the values maturity of the organisation
  • Acting as a change leader for standardization where appropriate, to simplify the complexity of practices while maintaining adherence to GSK policy and Values.
  • Understanding the opportunity for business collaboration and new business models ensuring the risk management and controls framework is adequate.
  • Development of communication and training strategy of GEC and ad hoc implementation to fully embedding desired compliance culture within Nigeria.
  • Being the local expert on a wide range of compliance topics e.g. ABAC, TPO, Local Regulations and responsible for advising the Nigeria based staff on compliance with these areas
  • Engage with external parties to promote and defend GSK’s industry ethical lead and shape the external environment
  • As a key member of the PH and the Nigeria Country Executive Board, encourage discussion of relevant, significant risks and ensure that issues and conclusions are escalated upwards and consistently across the market
  • Participate in GEC initiatives/projects/working streams
  • Developing and implementing tools which empower employees to make ethical and legally compliant decisions. Provide compliance support to Nigeria based staff, as well as advisory and interpretation services in relation to GSK Policies and SOP as required.
  • Partner with other governance groups (e.g. HR, Finance, Medical, Legal) to develop integrated compliance solutions
  • Distill complex issues to create right-size, simple solutions to problems
  • Demonstrate learning agility and ability to learn new things quickly
  • Solid understanding of any relevant healthcare compliance standards in the market
  • Ability to influence leadership behaviours in line with GSK Values

Application of Knowledge:

  • Has a deep understanding of the BU’s products, competitors, industry issues and regulations.
  • Extensive knowledge and insight into global markets and underlying reasons for current conditions.
  • Understand how nuanced changes in strategy influence risk to GSK
  • Knowledge & experience with healthcare laws and requirements.
  • Knowledge & experience with compliance programs and processes
  • Ability to provide high degree of reliance and accountability to senior management
  • Strong advocacy skills and sound business judgment at senior levels
  • Organised and capable of working in an influencing role at all levels, particularly senior management levels
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to enable effective and influential internal and external contacts.
  • Experience dealing with government regulators and prosecutors
  • Possesses organisational knowledge required for identifying areas of compliance vulnerability and aligning the compliance functions with the business.
  • Knowledgeable of applicable government laws and regulations relating to the company.
  • Superior listening skills, analytical ability to diagnose problems, resolve conflict, and develop practical solutions.
  • Ability to manage sensitive confidential issues with complete discretion.
  • Demonstrated risk management, process improvement, and/or project management skills.
  • Maintain a high degree of credibility, independence, integrity, confidentiality and trust.
  • Exhibit strong analytical skills and an understanding of operational processes and technology concepts.
  • Strong writing skills required to write and edit policies and procedures, issue memoranda and compile program reports.
  • Exhibits excellent presentation skills with large and small audiences.
  • Good networker internally and externally to GSK

Problem Solving & Innovation:

  • A strong positive influence the culture of GEC and GSK to embrace GSK values decision making and effective risk management.
  • Viewed as a trusted team member by senior leaders and sought out for flexible thinking and strategic advice.
  • Establishing a culture and executing strategies which fundamentally raise the importance of customers in the organisation,
  • Champions project ideas.  Leads cross-organisation, complex projects. Supports development of new project managers.
  • Encourages and motivates peers and staff to give their best. Champions the development and success of the Compliance team. Create an environment that enables teams to perform at its best and builds trust and team spirit to enhance the effectiveness of the group.


  • Works with leadership teams to shape and define business strategies, working to manage the interface of agendas and drivers between other relevant areas of GSK. Helps the BU/Function evaluate multiple strategic alternatives.
  • Shares best practices with peers in the industry through informal discussions and presentations at educational events.


  • Accountable for ensuring Nigeria compliance program is effective and fully implemented.
  • Accountable for implementation of compliance initiatives aligned with corporate initiatives e.g. following Strategic Review recommendations
  • Ensuring that GSK’s compliance culture is embedded at all levels of the organisation
  • Accountable for ensuring employees understand compliance requirements and use good judgment in activities and for ensuring appropriate monitoring and auditing to verify.
  • Manages policy and process enhancements and compliance issues and projects that apply to Nigeria and protect against significant liabilities.
  • Oversight of BU compliance champions, to ensure full deployment and coordination of corporate, Nigeria and BU risk management and compliance processes at all levels.
  • Establishes and maintains credibility and trust throughout the organisation and is able and willing to consistently advocate disciplinary actions for compliance and ethics violations.

Basic Qualifications

  • Degree in Business, Medical, Accounting, Engineering, Risk Management

Work Experience:

  • Minimum Level of Job-Related Experience required  5-10 year+ in Compliance/Audit/Legal/Internal Controls role
  • Prior experience is essential in facilitating judgment related decisions and implications of risk within a commercial business

Other Job-Related Skills/Background:

  • Good understanding of BU structures and processes.
  • Broad knowledge of GSK business and operating model
  • Expert level knowledge of Internal Control Framework and risk management principles and ability to translate theory into practice.
  • Good working knowledge of the GSK system of internal control, and its organisational elements.
  • Experience in audit, risk management, compliance and other governance fields desirable.
  • Ability to maintain confidentiality and trust around sensitive compliance issues.
  • Good degree of organisational awareness; demonstrated ability to develop solutions to complex problems and challenges.
  • Self-starter, results-oriented.
  • Ability to influence, coach and co-ordinate teams to initiate, plan, control and execute projects in smarter and more efficient ways, flexing the approach as needed for local context.
  • Familiarity with IT systems and technology, specifically Connect GSK, Teamsites, CDMS for storage and accessibility of policies
  • Teamwork – ability to work and contribute collaboratively as part of one team, respecting individual styles and cultural differences while focussed on delivery of the overall project objective.
  • Ability to work effectively and sensitively in a highly matrixed organisation across geographies and cultures.
  • Animation, facilitation and presentation skills
  • Detailed working knowledge of GSK Change Framework and Lean Sigma methodologies a plus
  • Enable and Drive Change: ability to define an approach that results in project stakeholders owning and sustain the change.
  • Flexible Thinking: Ability to flex and tailor standard approaches to fit the needs of the project and the local environment
  • Strong problem solving skills that are pragmatic, which demonstrates a strong understanding of the business.
  • Continuous Improvement: Determination and confidence to challenge the existing ways of working and shift current thinking to embrace working in a smarter, more efficient and simpler ways.
  • Relationship Building: Ability to build lasting, mutually beneficial win-win relationships with key project stakeholders and senior leaders
  • Strong interpersonal skills with excellent written and oral communication skills, including presentations to large and small audiences, with the ability to influence individuals at all levels of the organisation.
  • Demonstrated ability to work and influence others to work in accordance with company Values.

Application Closing Date
Not Specified.

How to Apply

Interested and qualified candidates should:
Click here to apply online

SCOTUS weighs competing briefs in widow’s appeal in case vs GSK over suicide of lawyer taking generic Paxil

In coming weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on the question of how much liability drug companies should face over the warning they give to doctors and patients of certain allegedly harmful side effects from their medications, particularly when those warning labels are closely controlled by federal regulators.

And the decision could have major implications for lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies, including a case decided last year by a federal appeals panel in Chicago, in a legal action brought by the widow of Chicago lawyer who committed suicide after taking the generic equivalent of the antidepressant, Paxil.

In recent weeks, attorneys for pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and for plaintiff Wendy Dolin filed competing briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dolin is asking the high court to toss out the decision of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which had, in turn, thrown out a jury verdict ordering GSK to pay Dolin $3 million.

In that decision, the Seventh Circuit judges had essentially found GSK could not be held liable for the content of the warning label on its medication, because those labels were controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dolin had sued GSK in 2012, two years after her husband, Stewart Dolin, killed himself in a downtown Chicago transit station. Dolin alleged her husband was taking paroxetine, the generic version of GSK’s Paxil, at the time. She asserted the warning label for paroxetine, which was written by GSK and is identical to the warning label for Paxil, did not adequately warn the drug could increase the risk of suicide.

Dolin alleged GSK knew of the alleged increased risk, yet chose not to revise the warning label.

GSK, however, said it tried several times to secure approval from the FDA to revise the label, but the FDA declined.

After years of proceedings in federal district court in Chicago, a jury found in favor of Dolin at trial. GSK appealed, and the Seventh Circuit overturned the verdict.

Dolin then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing the Seventh Circuit got it wrong. Dolin’s lawyers particularly argued the Seventh Circuit’s ruling conflicted with the Supreme Court’s 2009 ruling in Wyeth v Levine, which held drug companies with “clear evidence” of problems can revise labels to enhance warnings, without FDA approval.

Dolin’s attorneys also noted the decision conflicts with the decision of the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which found in a similar case the FDA’s regulation of drug warning labels did not absolve pharmaceutical company Merck of liability for injuries allegedly suffered by patients who took Merck’s drug, Fosamax.

That case, docketed before the Supreme Court as Merck v. Albrecht, was argued before the Supreme Court in January. A decision could be forthcoming in the case in coming weeks.

No matter which way the court falls on the question, though, it may also decide the fate of the Seventh Circuit’s decision in the Dolin matter.

Dolin, in a brief filed April 11, asked the Supreme Court to hold off on deciding whether to take up her case until after it has decided the Albrecht case.

“At the heart of the pending Albrecht decision is an analysis of what was presented to the FDA, how the FDA responded, and what warning (if any) the FDA rejected…,” Dolin’s attorneys wrote.

“This is exactly the issue in this case, i.e., when the FDA through informal communications stated that GSK’s proposed Paxil-specific adult warning should not go in the middle of the class-labeling section (as that applied to the whole class of drugs), but that GSK should submit a formal (Changes Being Effect) supplement that the FDA could review independent of the class-labeling being implemented for over 30 different antidepressants, was the FDA rejecting a Paxil-specific adult warning? Every jury and virtually every jurist (with the exception of the Seventh Circuit panel …) has answered this question in the negative.”

GSK, however, in a brief filed in late March, asserted the Seventh Circuit’s decision is on firm legal footing, no matter the outcome in Albrecht.

“This Court’s resolution of that dispute, … will not affect the outcome here,” GSK argued in its brief. “The (Seventh Circuit) court of appeals here found that the ‘undisputed evidence’ regarding FDA’s decision-making was subject to only one reasonable interpretation: FDA, after exhaustively studying the issue for years, definitely and repeatedly rejected an adult-suicidality warning based on substance and science.”

GSK also asserted the decision was sound, even when posed against Wyeth, as the Seventh Circuit found “no reasonable jury could find that the FDA would have approved an adult-suicidality warning for Paxil … between 2007 and Stewart Dolin’s suicide in 2010.”

Aside from the Seventh Circuit’s findings, GSK also asked the Supreme Court to note Dolin’s lawyers were essentially attempting to use a warning label suit to hold GSK liable for the alleged effects of a generic medication it did not make, sell or distribute, under a theory called “innovator liability” – making the innovator of a product pay for the alleged damage caused by a copy of its original product, made and sold by someone else.

“But such a theory of liability is untenable,” GSK wrote. “Holding brand manufacturers liable for injuries allegedly caused by generic manufacturers would up-end tort principles, deter medical innovation, and require brand manufacturers to insure an entire industry when their patents have long since expired and they no longer profit from the drug.”

GSK asked the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, and not hear arguments in the case, allowing the Seventh Circuit decision to stand.

Supreme Court justices are scheduled to consider whether to hear arguments in the Dolin case at a conference April 26, according to the court’s docket.

Dolin is represented by attorneys with the firm of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman P.C., of Los Angeles, and the Rapoport Law Offices P.C., of Chicago.

GSK has been represented by the firms of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, and  and Williams & Connolly LLP, each of Washington, D.C., and by the firms of Dentons US LLP, of Chicago, and King & Spalding, of Atlanta.

GSK’s jet-set scientist racks up travel bill worth nearly $800k



Glaxosmithline is under fire from shareholders over the “excessive” travel expenses of its chief scientist.

Hal Barron, the drugs giant’s highest-paid executive, received $807,000 (£620,000) in flights and hotels last year.

One major investor said that they were “taken aback” by the “monumentally high” expenses ahead of the company’s AGM next month.

Figures released by GSK show that Dr Barron, a high profile pharmacologist, last year racked up $464,000 worth of flights between his San Francisco home and GSK’s main research hubs in Philadelphia and Stevenage.

‘I was in absolute hell’: The effect of coming off antidepressants



‘I was in absolute hell’: The effect of coming off antidepressants

Oliver Harrison says he had to go to A&E twice after coming off his medication and “couldn’t stop crying”.

Mr Harrison said he started taking medication for his low mood and anxiety around 20 years ago
Image: Mr Harrison said he started taking medication for his low mood and anxiety around 20 years ago

Reverend Oliver Harrison has been a long-term user of antidepressants – but when he came off the medication, it caused “horrendous” side effects.

Leading medical experts are warning that using Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) drugs for long periods of time could be doing permanent damage to patient’s bodies.

Mr Harrison, from Tamworth in Staffordshire, told Sky News what happened when he tried to stop his medication.

I started on antidepressants around 20 years ago.

I’d been having a difficult time at work but I think I’ve always been prone to low mood and anxiety.

My doctor prescribed antidepressants and they made an enormous difference fairly quickly.


In an overstretched NHS, it’s easy to see why they are the first line of treatment.

But like anything that’s too good to be true there’s a downside – a dark side – and that comes at the other end of process, when it’s time to reduce or come off the medication.

I stopped taking my medication 10 years ago but I did it completely the wrong way; it was haphazard, chaotic – and extremely unpleasant.

I was in a new job and life was good. I’d been missing doses of the medication and I felt like I needed the tablets less and less.

I went away to a conference for week and forgot to pack my medication. I didn’t miss it and I didn’t start taking it again when I got home.

It was unplanned and certainly not thought through.

A few days later the symptoms I started getting were horrendous.

I’ve never been so ill in my life, both physically and mentally. It was just appalling.

Something felt badly wrong with me. I went to A&E on two occasions. I had nausea, vertigo, insomnia, muscle cramps, mood swings, panic attacks and I couldn’t stop crying.

At first I didn’t know what was wrong with me; I didn’t connect it with stopping the medication.

Leading medical experts have warned that long-term use of antidepressants could cause permanent damage
Image: Leading medical experts have warned that long-term use of antidepressants could cause permanent damage

I now know this is called “SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome”.

For the best part of three months, I was in absolute hell and it was unbelievably bad.

It was only when I restarted the medication again – a different one this time – that all of those symptoms began to clear up within a few days.

For some people, coming off antidepressants isn’t a problem. But there are three reasons why it can be.

The first is the length of time someone has been on the medication. The longer the course of treatment, the harder it can be to come off.

It seems that the brain and central nervous system adjust around the drug.

More and more people are taking these drugs and many are staying on them for years. So this is an issue that is only going to get bigger.

The second problem is that the modern medications have a much shorter “half-life” – the time it takes to metabolise half the amount taken.

In layman’s terms, this means it doesn’t stay in your system for very long. This makes it hard to miss a dose and not feel it very quickly.

It also makes tapering harder; the antidepressants don’t hang around long enough in your system to smooth over each step down in dose.

The reverend said there is a "dark side" to taking antidepressants
Image: The reverend said there is a ‘dark side’ to taking antidepressants

The third factor is the dose itself: the higher it is, the further you’ve got further to come down. All three factors applied to me.

Nowadays there’s much greater understanding that in order to come off, you can’t just do it by reducing your dose to half, then a quarter and then simply stop.

It needs to be a very slow taper, reducing the amount by tiny increments over months – not weeks. That’s very difficult with tablets.

For example, my own medication comes in 20mg, 10mg and 5mg pills.

The one thing I think that would help people in my position is if pharmaceutical companies would make tablets available in much smaller increments.

Having tablets in 1mg and 0.25mg would allow people to readily tailor-make their own dose, so it’d be easier to create a slow, steady, smooth withdrawal.

There are two current options available for people wanting to fine-tune their tapering regimes: first, many of these drugs are available in liquid form which can then be further diluted.

But this is messy and complicated and quite imprecise.

Secondly, and better, the University of Maastricht offers a brilliant scheme called “Tapering Strips” which produces daily doses of tablets in pre-packaged weekly strips, each one at a very slightly lower dose.

Oliver Harrison suffered from physical and mental side effects when he tried to come off antidepressants
Image: Oliver Harrison suffered from physical and mental side effects when he tried to come off antidepressants

This is tailor-made and patient-led, so individual users can slow or stop the rate of reduction as they want or need to. I would like that to be more widely accessed.

My experience has made me scared to try reducing my dose again.

I would like to work towards coming off of the drugs or at least seeing if I could get by with less.

It’s only one pill once a day – it’s not like I’m injecting insulin or having kidney dialysis. It’s only a small thing but it’s not something I’m free from.

The NICE guidelines on withdrawing from antidepressants is being reviewed and now seems a good time to speak out, collect data, report problems and lobby the government.

For anyone thinking of reducing or stopping, the best advice seems to be a very slow, smooth taper.

Find a good sympathetic GP and an enlightened pharmacist who will explore the options prescribing either the liquid form or, better still, the Dutch tapering strip system.

It would help as well if pharmaceutical companies would make tablets available in much smaller increments of 1mg and 0.25mg and get them licensed for use.

Stopping SSRIs is hard but not impossible and it could be made much easier if these simple options were known about and made available.

Dr David Healy’s New Post…



329: A Study in What?

April, 8, 2019 | 8 Comments

“…I was first prescribed paroxetine in 2006, thinking it would only be short term. Twelve years on, and I’ve just got off it….” : Journalist Rachel Wheatley speaks out…


Your stories of suffering: After Sarah Vine wrote in Femail of her battle to come off antidepressants, we were inundated with letters from readers thanking her for giving them the courage to speak out too

  • Sarah Vine shared accounts from women who’ve relied on prescription drugs
  • Rachel McIntosh, 52, shared the challenges of coming off antidepressants 
  • She recalls feeling sweaty, unsteady on her feet and struggling to focus 
  • Jane Askey, 69, says her anxiety returned when she tried to withdraw from pills
  • Karen Olah, 57,  used a private therapist to help stop taking antidepressants
  • Louise C and Louise Shirt tried on more than one occasion to stop taking pills

A couple of weeks ago, prompted by a new report warning about the debilitating effects of coming off antidepressants, I wrote a piece about my own struggles in this department.

I had never written about my mental health before, but the study struck a chord. I have struggled over many years with bouts of depression and severe anxiety and while the medication certainly helps, it definitely comes at a cost. It felt like the time was right, so I just allowed my feelings to flood the page.

Little did I realise the effect it would have. The response from readers has been overwhelming. Your letters and emails have poured in, each one telling the same story, albeit in a thousand different ways. Tales of mental suffering laced with heartbreaking detail, humanity and an overwhelming sense of sadness. One reads endless reports about the high rates of mental illness in Britain — over seven million in the UK are on antidepressants, one of the highest rates in the world, but they are just another statistic.

What really drives home the reality of the situation are the individual experiences. They bring to life those headlines in a way that nothing else can.

Sarah Vine shared the stories of brave individuals who've struggled to stop taking prescription medication for their mental health. Rachel McIntosh, 52, (pictured) began taking venlafaxine to cope with post-natal depression

Sarah Vine shared the stories of brave individuals who’ve struggled to stop taking prescription medication for their mental health. Rachel McIntosh, 52, (pictured) began taking venlafaxine to cope with post-natal depression

Today, we publish a few of those stories, with the permission of the brave individuals who volunteered them. They stand out not just for their eloquence, but also certain unifying themes. Feelings of shame and embarrassment, of sadness and regret but also more specific symptoms, in particular the physical side-effects of being both on and off antidepressants.

Universal to all seems to be the way the drugs, in alleviating the symptoms of mental illness, also remove everything else. Yes, they take away the pain, but they also take away much of the pleasure.

The result is an emotional numbness that, while allowing the person to function on a practical level, at the same time robs them of something fundamental: their sense of self.

This emotional anaesthesia is hard to describe. As are the ‘brain zaps’ that characterise withdrawal from certain Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and that many of the letters mention; the best I can explain it is that it feels like having a fly dying inside your head.

But the effects are clear and eloquently expressed: losing that spark, losing self-respect, feeling like your mind is not your own, like the medication is somehow masking the real you.

And always that sense of being trapped or, as one reader put it, ‘in a glass bowl, where you can never scramble up the sides’.

It’s clear that for many people prescription drugs are a double-edged sword, a sticking plaster solution that gets them moving again — but not with any real purpose.

And because they do not tackle the root cause of the unhappiness, but simply mask the symptoms, many people simply end up on them indefinitely at huge cost to the NHS and themselves. Of course there are times when the illness is so acute it must be treated. But like a broken bone, at some point the cast needs to come off and the patient must undertake a course of physiotherapy. The human mind is not so dissimilar: medication without therapy only fixes half the problem.

The difficulty is that there is very little access to one-to-one therapy on the NHS. Private treatment is patchy and expensive. And people are not encouraged to prioritise their mental health in the same way as their physical well-being.

Sarah Vine (pictured) claims there is a perception that people who struggle with their mental health are weak and self-indulgent 

Sarah Vine (pictured) claims there is a perception that people who struggle with their mental health are weak and self-indulgent

A perception still prevails of sufferers as somehow responsible for their predicament, of being weak and self-indulgent, attention-seeking failures who just need to get a grip.

Read these accounts and you will realise this could not be further from the truth. These people are hard-working, successful individuals who have the misfortune of suffering from a misunderstood and perniciously hard to treat illness.

Hopefully their stories — and the heightened awareness they create — will go some small way to smashing this most damaging of misconceptions.


Rachel McIntosh, 52, is a former solicitor and now a full-time mother from Leeds. She says:

your story brings back so many memories of the problems I had myself coming off antidepressants.

I suffered post-natal depression after the birth of my second child 19 years ago. I couldn’t stop crying, I felt like the worst mother in the world. So when I was offered venlafaxine by my GP, I was happy to take them.

I felt better within weeks. But not normal. I don’t think I’ve felt ‘normal’ in 19 years. I feel emotionless and flat. When the venlafaxine stopped working, my GP suggested I stop taking it altogether.

Rachel (pictured) recalls withdrawal symptoms of venlafaxine including struggling to stand steady and problems with focusing her vision 

Rachel (pictured) recalls withdrawal symptoms of venlafaxine including struggling to stand steady and problems with focusing her vision

The withdrawal symptoms were horrendous. About 12 hours after I missed my first dose I began to feel ill.

The following day, I was worse, the most ill I’ve ever been. I felt sick, I had brain ‘zaps’ constantly — like little electric shocks — particularly when I moved my head. I was sweaty, unsteady on my feet, my eyes were unfocused.

Over the years I’ve been prescribed other antidepressants and about five years ago was prescribed duloxetine, like you, Sarah.

It made me feel better, but by February of this year I’d had enough. I simply want to feel like a ‘whole person’ again.

But although I’ve managed to cut down to a quarter of my regular dose, I’m terrified about the side-effects of coming off altogether.


Jane Askey, 69, a retired personal assistant, lives in Cheltenham. She says:

People who are trying desperately to come off antidepressants find it very difficult to speak to others about how they’re feeling.

You feel you don’t want to bother them or that it’ll be too hard to get through to them. That’s why it’s so important that you and others are writing about this issue.

I had a nervous breakdown almost 20 years ago and as a result lost my job and house.

Jane Askey, 69, (pictured) from Cheltenham began taking antidepressants after suffering a nervous breakdown. Since coming off the drugs her anxiety has returned and she sweats a lot

Jane Askey, 69, (pictured) from Cheltenham began taking antidepressants after suffering a nervous breakdown. Since coming off the drugs her anxiety has returned and she sweats a lot

I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression and anxiety and put on 20mg of an SSRI antidepressant called escitalopram. It helped for a while.

And then I was told by my GP that 20mg was too high a dose for someone over 65 and to cut back. This June, I decided not only to lower the dose, but to get myself off them completely.

It’s been horrendously tough. I did it gradually over three months, until now finally I’m free of them, but I’m still living with withdrawal symptoms. I’m agitated, irritable and can’t sleep. I’m sweating a lot and the anxiety is back. Physically, I’m suffering, yet I find my mind is much clearer. Without these wretched drugs, I have more self-respect. It is like I have woken up from a long sleep.

Well-meaning friends say if I feel so rotten, I should start taking them again, but that’s not very helpful. Neither are ignorant people who tell you to get a grip. But I won’t give up. Like you, Sarah, I’m determined to stay free.

Video playing bottom right…

Click here to expand to full page


Samantha Brook, 43, is a blogger from Suffolk. She says:

I was 17 when I was first prescribed antidepressants. With hindsight, 26 years later, I suspect there were better ways to deal with an unhappy, wayward teen.

I tried to stop taking them, off and on, for the next two decades but the withdrawal was so frightening, I always ended up going back to them.

Samantha Brook, 43, (pictured) from Suffolk began taking antidepressants at age 17. She recalls experiencing dizziness and noise from missing even one dose 

Samantha Brook, 43, (pictured) from Suffolk began taking antidepressants at age 17. She recalls experiencing dizziness and noise from missing even one dose

The most disturbing symptom when cutting down or even missing a single dose was dizziness and noise. It was like birds flying inside my head. In November last year — after a quarter of a century on antidepressants — I decided to try again.

I did it slowly, by tapering down half a tablet a week. My GP has been no use — they’re just too busy — and I’ve done this with my boyfriend’s support.

There have been very low moments — but I took my last half tablet in June this year.


Karen Olah, 57, is a retired nursing sister from Hemel Hempstead. She says:

My depression really kicked in about 12 years ago. I had a job with a lot of responsibility as a nursing sister in a pre-operative assessment clinic, and there was no way I could do it.

My two children were still living at home at that point — my husband did most of the work.

Karen Olah, 57, (pictured) from Hemel Hempstead was prescribed venlafaxine to cope with depression. She says during her withdrawal there was times when she felt like she was dying

Karen Olah, 57, (pictured) from Hemel Hempstead was prescribed venlafaxine to cope with depression. She says during her withdrawal there was times when she felt like she was dying

I was put on a high dose of venlafaxine and got better enough to go back to work in fits and starts, but I really didn’t want to be on them for ever. I felt so lethargic I was hardly moving, and went from a slim 9st to a size 16.

Getting off them was hellish. Every time I tried to lower the dose, I’d suffer terrible symptoms and the doctor would just put it back up again. It got to 2016 and I decided I’d do it myself.

There were times when it felt so dark, I honestly felt I was going to die.

One five-day period sticks out. I’d cut back the dose and was feeling so agitated. It felt like I wanted to rip the walls down. One of the keys to getting off these pills was finding a private therapist. Now, I’m two weeks into freedom from them.


Rachel Wheatley is a journalist in her mid-30s from Chester. She says:

I was first prescribed paroxetine in 2006, thinking it would only be short term. Twelve years on, and I’ve just got off it.

My first attempt to stop was in 2015, after I’d been to see my GP to discuss taking SSRIs during pregnancy. The GP and I both agreed I should try to wean off paroxetine completely.

Rachel Wheatley (pictured) from Chester was first prescribed paroxetine in 2006. She says her mental health went rapidly downhill when she tried to reduce her intake 

Rachel Wheatley (pictured) from Chester was first prescribed paroxetine in 2006. She says her mental health went rapidly downhill when she tried to reduce her intake

At first, I did well — I got it down to 10mg from 20mg. I lived comfortably on that dose for two years. But then I lowered to 5mg a day and that’s when my mental health rapidly went downhill.

In a matter of weeks, I was overwhelmed with depression and anxiety. My GP advised me to go back up to 20mg, but having come so far, I was devastated.

In August this year, I felt ready to try again, but this time decided to cross-taper onto a different SSRI, sertraline, which is easier to wean off.

I’ve had to deal with new side-effects, including chronic headaches and gastrointestinal upset. I couldn’t be prouder of myself for quitting my old regime.

Drugs firm GSK stops visiting Dutch family doctors

Interesting news from Holland. Apparently GSK are stopping visits to family doctors there because the doctors don’t trust the pharmaceutical industry. I wonder could this also have anything to do with the fact that Dutch users are suing GSK for withdrawals/side effects of Seroxat/Paroxetine, and some cases are succeeding?
See below…

“….A formal claim will be made against GlaxoSmithKline by more than 20 people in the Netherlands who used Seroxat (paroxetine) in their youth. (GSK sells paroxetine as Paxil in America.)  The group states GSK failed to inform them about the serious psychological side effects of the drug, including aggressive behavior and an increased risk of suicide. These adverse drug effects were apparently not listed on GSK’s Seroxat label at the time these teens were given the drug….”

See: https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2019/02/dutch-seroxat-teen-users-to-sue-drug-maker-for-side-effects/

“Drugs firm GSK stops visiting Dutch family doctors Business April 8, 2019 Photo: Depositphotos.com Representatives of British pharmaceuticals giant GSK have stopped visiting family doctors in the Netherlands because they are ‘less open’ to information about drugs, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday.
GSK Nederland director Daan Gijbels told the paper that the decision to stop the visits is ‘painful’ and that he fears it will be more difficult to get new and more effective products to patients. ‘Society has become more negative about the pharmaceuticals industry,’ he said.

‘This means the doctors visits were no longer effective.’ On average, GSK reps visited seven to eight doctors a week. The Dutch family doctors association NHG said it welcomed the decision and that it had been advising doctors for some time to refuse visits by sales reps…”

GSK’s Pandemrix Scandal Rumbles On…



80 cases now before High Court over swine flu vaccine

A solicitor handling many of the cases said the slow process is “very frustrating” for his clients.

Image: RollingNews.ie

THE SOLICITOR HANDLING many of the cases involving people who allegedly developed narcolepsy after receiving the swine flu vaccine has said more than 80 cases have now been lodged before the courts in relation to Pandemrix.

In 2009, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a swine flu pandemic. The Irish government and the HSE purchased over eight million Pandemrix vaccines, which were made by Glaxosmithkline (GSK).

Many people received the vaccine before its use was suspended in Ireland in 2011 after concerns were raised about negative side effects including a link with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders.

The British Medical Journal published an investigation last September which noted that serious safety concerns were raised in 2009, nearly two years before the vaccine’s use was stopped in Ireland.

Legal proceedings in two more cases were issued during the week. One case, involving a woman, is listed for trial on 8 October next. The other case involves an underage boy.

The defendants in both cases are the Minister for Health, the HSE, GSK and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).

The proceedings were lodged by Michael Boylan Litigation. The Dublin-based law firm is handling the vast majority of the 80-plus cases.

‘Enormous task’ 

Solicitor Michael Boylan told TheJournal.ie the firm is “going through an enormous task” of finding and searching documents for relevant information.

“We’re having to spend hundreds of thousands on IT experts and a team of document reviewers going through piles of documents,” he added, on the documents his team had sourced.&nbsp

In February, the Sunday Business Post reported that the government had spent €2.1 million discovering documents for a test case brought by Aoife Bennett, a 28-year-old woman who allegedly developed narcolepsy from the Pandemrix vaccine.

Bennett’s case is considered a lead case for the other related legal actions.

‘A very stark disease’ 

Boylan said he believes the government has spent closer to €3 million at this stage.

Narcolepsy is a very stark disease and many people have late diagnosis. It’s just terrible, it really is terrible,” he added.

When asked about the situation in the Dáil by TD Clare Daly last Tuesday, Health Minister Simon Harris said the State Claims Agency is dealing with the cases in question, adding that it “would not be appropriate” for him to comment.

“The discovery process is being actively case managed by a judge of the High Court. There have been several High Court motion hearings to date.

“The matter has been listed again before the High Court in October 2019 where a test case will be raised by the plaintiff.

“The Department of Health and the HSE continue to comply with all orders made by the courts and at no stage has the State failed to comply with a discovery order of the High Court,” Harris said.

TheJournal.ie contacted the department, the State Claims Agency, the HSE and GSK for comment.

The HSE said it was a matter for the State Claims Agency, which declined to comment.

The department and GSK also both said they cannot comment on ongoing litigation.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings. 

“..Nobody Has Ever Died From A Panic Attack…







…The fact is, Nobody has ever died from a panic attack’ said Dr Kate Lovett, Dean of the Royal college of psychiatry UK, in a column on anxiety in the Daily Mail in 2018.

I agree with Dr Kate, it is very probable that people don’t generally die from panic attacks. It doesn’t happen. However, over the last few decades many hundreds of thousands of people have been prescribed SSRI’s like Seroxat to ‘treat’ their panic attacks.

In the video at the end of this post Kate talks about ‘panic attacks’ and ‘panic disorder’ and she says that there are ‘some drug treatments, some antidepressant treatments help reduce the frequency’. But if nobody ever died from a panic attack, how do the drugs (which can cause anxiety, agitation etc) help with panic attacks?

She then goes on to discuss how ‘Generalized Anxiety Disorder’ can be treated with ‘anti-depressants and other medications can really help’.

Drugs like Seroxat have a litany of side effects such as agitation, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, aggression, akathisia ( and worse- etc), and with side effects like this, many people find that their anxiety and panic attacks get worse on SSRI’s like Seroxat. So why prescribe them if they are dangerous? and why prescribe drugs for panic attacks that can kill, or severely harm, someone- when the panic attacks themselves actually won’t kill them?

https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/product/1161/pil (SEROXAT PIL)

The BBC made 4 documentaries on Seroxat, from 2002 onward. In these documentaries, ordinary people told the researchers how Seroxat made them manic, suicidal, suffer debilitating withdrawals, caused personality changes, increased anxiety, and worse. Many people, were prescribed Seroxat for panic attacks, and some of those people, lost their health because of Seroxat side effects. The Seroxat PIL’s are a horror story in themselves with side effects as long as both your arms listed in them.

But , ‘nobody has ever died from a panic attack’, says Dr Lovett. Yes this is true, people don’t die from panic attacks, however they can die, or be harmed extremely badly, from ingesting SSRI’s like Seroxat- which are often used to treat panic attacks- so does the ‘benefit’ outweigh the ‘risks’ here?


Dr Lovett’s colleague, Dr David Baldwin, and another colleague, Dr Nutt, were instrumental in helping to promote GSK’s Seroxat in the media in the late 90’s. It was around this time that Seroxat was dubbed, ‘the Shyness pill’, and GSK were trying to make more billions by opening new mental illness markets. Many tens,-if not hundreds, of thousands- of people were prescribed Seroxat for ‘panic attacks’, and many of those people likely would have suffered side effects, in varying levels of severity.

But, ‘nobody has ever died from a panic attack‘, says Dr. Lovett.

This is probably true enough..

However, over the decades, many people were harmed, or died, from being prescribed a drug like Seroxat- to treat their ‘panic attacks’…

How ironic..

See SSRI Stories.org

and Antidepaware for thousands of stories of SSRI induced deaths and harm..








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