Snake Oil Merchants and Charlatans: The State Of Psychiatry Today.


With more and more evidence coming out about the ineffectiveness of psychiatric drugs, psychiatric methods and the practice of psychiatry in general, I find it astounding how some psychiatrists just refuse to give up the ghost. This post by Thomas L. Schwartz, MD ,from the WebMD website is a prime example of the absolute nonsense that psychiatrists sprout in order to convince the public that these drugs are still a valid option for mental illness. Really, at this stage, it is quite laughable. That’s if it wasn’t so serious, these are people’s brains that psychiatrists think they have the right to interfere with. As far as I am concerned psychiatric drugging is akin to brain rape and mind assault. They have no right to be adding chemicals into peoples brains when they don’t even know nor understand the damage these drugs can cause, never mind acknowledgement. Who do they think they are, playing god with peoples bodies, brains and minds? What is utterly amazing about the views of this (clearly quite mad) doctor Thomas Schwartz is how he doesn’t seem to see a problem with contradicting himself several times. On the one hand he says that these drugs might even cause chemical imbalances while on the other he makes these incredulous claims about DNA changes from SSRI’s. He also admits that most psychiatric diagnoses were made up by drug companies, but because the symptoms exist of these made up illnesses then (according to this wacko) it’s perfectly fine to treat them. Bizarre, absurd and completely ridiculous. I think the lunatics have been running the asylum for too long.. What do you reckon?

http://blogs.webmd.com/mental-health/2011/07/how-antidepressants-work-part-one.html

2. Mental illness is not caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
This view is actually too simplistic.

For example, we now have diagnoses such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which did not exist formally 10-15 years ago. She might posit that these were created just for marketing purposes. However, we must admit that some people suffer immensely from collections of symptoms that may sort themselves out into those artificial categories of PTSD, PMDD, and SAD. Clearly, patients have these symptoms and a disorder is defined as a collection of symptoms that causes problems in daily functioning.

These categories of new diagnoses might have been partially created by the pharmaceutical companies, but these symptoms clearly exist in people who are suffering. If we dialed back the clock would we feel comfortable stating that PTSD, PMDD, SAD, etc. just plain old do not exist? That these patients do not deserve symptomatic treatment as their illnesses are hoaxes or a ploy from pharmaceutical companies? Where does that leave us? Perhaps we should allow patients with bona fide disabling symptoms to suffer as their illnesses were made up by companies? It feels like throwing out the baby with the bath water instead of accepting the good and bad of the situation. Even if these are not ‘real diagnoses’, they are ‘real symptoms’.

Are mental illnesses caused by brain chemical imbalances? Sometimes, but often not. We have known this for years. This is not new news. We tell patients about these imbalances as it is easy to understand. Just like adding insulin for diabetics who have no insulin, it is a replacement. Frankly, we add psychiatric medications into a patient’s system and they do change brain chemical levels or block certain brain receptors instantly, but patients do not get instantly better. Most patients get better 2-6 weeks later after their chemicals or receptors have been manipulated and changed for weeks.

So what happens? Basically, when we add psychiatric medications into a patient’s system, the patient now has altered brain chemicals, causing the brain to react to these new imbalances by increasing or decreasing its nerve firing in certain brain areas. This then causes DNA in neurons to turn on or off certain genes. Genes encode and allow new proteins to be made and these proteins likely increase nerve health, functioning, and firing so that certain brain areas can communicate better. This takes several weeks, as we need those genes to turn on/off and give nerve cells time to build a lot of proteins.

So, psychiatric drugs are needed to start a series of events — a chain reaction — in the brain, starting with manipulating chemicals so that symptoms can eventually get better.

So to say that all antidepressants, for example, really don’t work or can’t work because they fix imbalances that aren’t the real cause of depression is flawed. Antidepressants may fix imbalances or may even cause them, but that ultimately gets the brain to change its functioning to improve symptoms associated with depression, PTSD, SAD, PMDD, etc.
Posted by: Thomas L. Schwartz, MD at 10:44 am

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Altostrata
Dr. Schwartz writes: “Are mental illnesses caused by brain chemical imbalances? Sometimes, but often not. We have known this for years. This is not new news. We tell patients about these imbalances as it is easy to understand. Just like adding insulin for diabetics who have no insulin, it is a replacement.”

Dr. Schwartz, on one hand, you say the “chemical imbalance” theory is not true, but on the other hand, you say you misrepresent it to patients, including the specious insulin comparison, because it is convenient and convincing.

Are you aware that Ronald Pies, editor-in-chief of Psychiatric Times, just stated that he has never heard a well-trained psychiatrist refer to the “chemical imbalance” theory?

I can understand why doctors are very confused at this point and having difficulty defending their past over-enthusiasm for prescribing antidepressants. Some, like Dr. Pies, are doing their best to back-pedal and rewrite medical history.

I think we can all agree now that further reference to the “chemical imbalance” theory of how antidepressants work is evidence of how outmoded thinking hangs on in defensiveness.

A psychiatrist with a soul : Michael Corry RIP


http://ipmed.org/Michael%20Corry.htm

Loving warrior, gentle rebel

Michael Corry, 1948 – 2010

Dr Michael Corry died at his home in Clara Vale, Co Wicklow, on 22 February 2010 after a short illness.
He was a fearless campaigner for the rights of mental health service users and all those suffering psychological distress; an opponent of bio-psychiatry and its reliance on psycho-pharmacology; an implacable campaigner for the abolition of ECT as a so-called ‘therapy’; and a compassionate healer appreciated by thousands of patients.
After qualifying in 1973, Michael’s career spanned work as a hospital doctor in Uganda in the Amin era before he qualified as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, work as a public service psychiatrist in St Brendan’s Hospital, Dublin, and private practice.
His imagination and desire to get things done powered both his work as director of the EU-sponsored Resocialisation Project at St Brendan’s in the early 1980s, and as a founder of the privately-funded Clane Hospital in Kildare, where he served as consultant psychiatrist from the early days.
He was a founder of the Institute of Psychosocial Medicine in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, in 1987, which developed from a four-partner practice into an organisation with over 20 practitioners and nationwide renown as a healing centre, and which also provides training courses and encourages research and advocacy.
In June 2004 Michael began a series of articles on depression in the Irish Times which led to the establishment of the monthly Depression Dialogues seminars which he moderated with his partner, Dr Aine Tubridy, and to the launch of the depressiondialogues website on St. Valentine’s Day 2005.

In 2006 he, together with a number of mental health campaigners who supported his existential approach to the treatment of psychological distress, set up The Wellbeing Foundation to pursue the aim of substituting an experiential, holistic and compassionate approach to mental health for the drug-based and often dangerous and ineffective approach of conventional psychiatry.
The Foundation’s successful conference in October 2006, attended by almost 700 people, helped open a public debate on mental health difficulties and on modes of treatment which had previously been virtually absent. The Dialogues, the conference, and continued interventions by Dr Corry and others were partly responsible for animating a wider patients’ movement, or survivors movement as many former patients prefer, and placing increasing pressure on conventional biopsychiatry which had enjoyed an easy ride until then.
Another area in which he made a mark was that of disability. For many years Michael worked with with Rehab, which provides services to young people and adults with physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities, people with mental health difficulties, people with autism and people with an acquired brain injury. It was an area dear to his heart on account of his close personal knowledge of the effect of profound brain impairment on children and families. As Rehab’s consultant psychiatrist, he championed the cause of integrating the psychiatric patient with the physically disabled, entitling them to the same educational and vocational training programmes.

He took up the cause of the sexually abused, too, in particular decrying the operation of the Residential Institutions Redress Board as an offence against the human rights of the clerically-abused. As he put it in one of his books, “This hideous legal circus, the Redress Board, that they [the victims] have been channelled towards, is a crime against humanity. One can only hope that its unconstitutional nature will be revealed, leading to its abolition, to be replaced by an open forum where the victim is not only properly compensated monetarily, but where they can have their perpetrators named and the scales of justice balanced.” Sadly for the victims of clerical abuse in these institutions, this did not happen and they continue to be subjected to the Board’s iniquitous procedures and inadequate awards, not to mention being gagged, under pain of criminal prosecution, from speaking about their ordeal once they sign up to its jurisdiction.
Michael’s work in campaigning for an end to electro-shock ‘therapy’ led to a private members Bill being introduced into the Senate in 2008 which would bar the forced use of ECT — use without informed consent. While the Government did not accept the Bill as proposed, Minister for Mental Health John Moloney has started a consultation process which may lead to the first steps towards ending this practice.

But what of the private Michael?

Michael was into adventure of all kinds, so the work in Africa was a springboard for travelling and exploring there, and he kept up the travel bug until after his diagnosis, always taking off for some exotic destination quite different and distinct from the previous one.
He was a keen sailor, and used to bring a small dinghy down to Ballinskelligs every year as part of the family holiday — perfect for turns around Ballinskelligs Bay. He was pretty good at it.
A big passion was horse-riding, and he loved his horse, Oscar, whose death a couple of years back was a big blow to him. His sense of adventure and willingness to try the new led him to start ski-ing in his late fifties, and bringing two of his children into it as well.
He also had a great interest in nature and ecology — living in the Wicklow countryside was paradise for him, where he was a keen gardener with a sense of how to seamlessly meld the cultivated and the wild. He was a contributor to and involved in publishing the first Irish eco-magazine, Source, back in the late 90s — it published from 1999 to 2001.

Michael read widely and loved poetry in particular, with a fine selection of poems made mandatory for the wellbeing foundation website. He was quite the art collector, and both his home and practice were packed with sculptures and paintings by artists he liked. And finally, he was an accomplished pianist and musician and spent a couple of years working with Larry Hogan and others on a musical theatre production, The Soul Show, which probably could have been very successful if they had found financial backers.
To all of these Michael brought passion, as well as to the pamphleteering and campaigning. I recall, for example, how some of our more tactically conservative collaborators blanched when they heard Michael declare publicly “My intention is to drive a stake through the heart of psychiatry in Ireland”, with all the implications of that metaphor, but that was Michael — he thought it, he believed it, and he spoke his truth, always, in private as in public.
Michael’s courage in prosecuting his ‘causes’ was immense. He had the quality of being willing, immediately and without hesitation, to go the last mile for something he believed in, or for a friend or family member, no matter the cost to himself. For example, when he discovered that the then Eastern Health Board had diverted EU funding for his pilot Resocialisation Project in 1983, leaving it unable to continue its work of preparing long-stay, institutionalised patients for normal life, the subsequent fight was explosive. Rather than continue in an organisation which expected him to accept and collude in what he saw as theft from his clients, Michael resigned, with no job offer and no other practice.

On many occasions he put his head above the parapet on behalf of patients and their rights, and against what he saw as malpractice by psychiatrists or other doctors — over-prescribing by GPs of drugs carrying serious risks, such as SSRIs like Seroxat or Cymbalta, was a continuing theme. He was not afraid to be controversial in his pursuit of change and of justice for the psychologically distressed, nor of the consequences, however threatening. Upholders of the status quo referred Michael to the Medical Council on several occasions, but none of the referrals ever came to anything.

If opposition is any sign, then Michael’s campaigns certainly rattled the ‘great and the good’ of Irish psychiatry. Professor Patricia Casey sued him and RTE for libel in 2005, a case settled by the broadcaster, and Professor Ted Dinan of UCC made a complaint to the Fitness to Practice Committee of the IMC over his public comments on the role of SSRIs in the murder/suicide carried out by Shane Clancy in Bray in 2010. Many of their colleagues opposed the campaign to bar forced administration of ECT, despite Irish practice in this regard breaching WHO guidelines on informed consent and falling far below best practice in comparable jurisdictions.

Above all, his patients loved him, and there were thousands. Their tributes since he died emphasise again and again his compassion, his concern, his wisdom and his exclusive focus on their need for healing. While his consulting room was entirely private, these qualities could be seen at the Dialogues meetings, where patients, relatives of troubled people seeking some illumination, or those needing advice, found an equally safe space where they could confide, share their difficulties, and draw on others’ support. Even without any formal protocol in operation, the effect was healing, as many who attended testify.

His obvious and deep compassion was the secret of this, as it was also the foundation for his commitment to advocacy and campaigning — he was a rare being, loveable, inspiring and thoughtful, a loving warrior and a gentle rebel.

— Basil Miller
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Updated 6 April 2009

Web Stats: Virginia Tech


Amongst many interesting views from different places today, I discovered that someone from Virginia Tech has been reading my blog posts. Virginia Tech is famous not for its academia, but for the Virginia Tech massacre…

School shootings have long been linked to prescription drugs, particularly SSRI’s. SSRI’s can tip vulnerable and confused people over the edge, they can make (previously passive) people violent and aggressive. Yet many psychiatrists continue to deny these affects. This denial is beginning to appear like desperation, but if they admit that these drugs are dangerous then they admit failure, and being as they are, psychiatrists cannot admit failure as that brings their entire psychiatric ideology under scrutiny… (and we can’t have that now can we?). Everyone else has joined the dots, but mainstream psychiatric opinion refuses to acknowledge that the dots even exist… The truth has become self evident, denial doesn’t wash anymore…

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Seroxat: A Killer In Every Age Group


 

When GSK first came out trying to defend Seroxat, they claimed that it was not addictive, nor did it cause much withdrawal symptoms. According to them, it was safe and well tolerated. The BBC Panorama team blew those fraudulent claims out of the water with their groundbreaking exposes on Seroxat. Seroxat not only harms children (and is banned in this age group), GSK also later admitted it was harmful in ‘young adults’, although curiously they have never admitted it is harmful to ‘adults’. Yet, the evidence clearly indicates it is extremely harmful across all spectrums. Seroxat causes defects in the unborn, and according to the latest reports, it is also killing older people when taken in combination with other drugs. Seroxat, is indiscriminate in its propensity to harm, and some might say, so is its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline.

Seroxat, not such a happy pill after all, is it GSK?…

http://www.pensioncalculator.org/4340/news/too-many-medicines-kill-pensioners/

Too many medicines kill pensioners/ 7.7.2011• Ameet Magan• Posted At 03:00 PM

Over 65s who take more than one drug or who take medicines in combination should consult with their doctors, researchers have warned.

The study of more than 13,000 people found the side effects of combining commonly used drugs can increase the risk of death or brain damage in over 65s.

The study, part of the Medical Research Council’s Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies looked at a particular group of regularly used drugs taken by over 65s over a two year period. Chris Fox who led the research and is Clinical Senior Lecturer at Norwich Medical School said,

“The sort of drugs we’re looking at are used in allergies, depression, cardiac disease, bladder disease, pain relief and sometimes in anti-coagulation, very common drugs, some prescribed, some over the counter.”

Many of these pensioners are without life insurance, meaning that their widows or widowers have little financial assistance. Many life insurance firms have schemes suitable for elderly people who have dependants who they don’t want to leave finically vulnerable, click here for more details.

The drugs studied included well known over the counter medicines such as Nytol and Piriton as well as paroxetine, an anti-depressant used in Seroxat.

Fox used a three point scale to measure the activity of different medicines on a messenger chemical in the brain, with 0 for no effect and 3 for a severe effect. The results which were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that around one in five people who took a combination of drugs scoring more than 4 on the scale had died during the two year period of the study. This compared to around just 7 per cent of those not taking the combinations dying in the same period.

Fox said, “For every extra point scored, the odds of dying increased by 26%. We found it was a cumulative risk – not just the severity of the blockade but the number of drugs as well.”

Doctors over prescribing drugs

Many doctors, nurses and other health professionals may not be aware of the risks associated with using the drugs in combinations for over 65s. Ian Maidment a pharmacist at Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust also blamed overuse and over prescription of drugs as one of the problems.

“Often you see anti-histamines, which have a high burden, for hay fever and they are continued in the depths of winter when there is snow on the ground. The problem is that someone with dementia can’t say, ‘I don’t need anti-histamine,’ so it’s continued when it’s not needed.”

The study also revealed that patients who took drugs with a combined score of 5 or more also showed a decline in brain function. They scored over 4 per cent lower in cognitive function tests than others not taking the same drugs.

Susanne Sorensen, Head of Research at the Alzheimer’s society warned, “The message here is for doctors to regularly review the medication of your older patients”. She also advised patients to be on guard, ”The message to patients is to ask, when you’re given medication, the pharmacist if what you’re buying at the counter has any side-effects and may be bad in combination with the other drugs you take.”

Proof That Depression Is Not Caused By A Chemical Imbalance


Psychiatry would like us to believe that depression is caused by defective biology, faulty brains, dodgy neuro-pathways, chemical imbalances and other pseudo-scientific and speculative nonsense. The current rise of suicides and increase in depression in Ireland has been linked to the country’s devastating financial crisis and deep recession. The rise in depression and the beginning of the global economic crisis can be directly correlated to each other. Therefore, it is clearly and obviously traumatic life events which cause depression, not defective or imbalanced chemicals in the brain. Depression is a very valid emotional reaction to psychological trauma. It is the body’s way of expressing despair, fear and an inability to cope in a certain circumstance. It is an emotive response and should be treated accordingly. Not with drugs, but with understanding. People will thrive when they are exposed to positive circumstances, support, encouragement, compassion and understanding. When subjected to negative experiences, overwhelming odds, and continual fear and hopelessness, depression can occur. It doesn’t take a genius to see that depression is quite clearly (for the most part) emotional in nature. Emotions are not diseases. Nor are they due to faulty brain wiring. They are human reactions.

The fact that increases in depression, self harm, suicide and general mental health problems, happens in times of harsh economic climates, is a macrocosm of the factors which cause mental health problems at all times. Depression can come from a myriad of life events. From grief, low self esteem, abuse, bullying, fear, anxiety etc etc. These events are not biological, they are merely triggers. Looking for biological markers for depression is like searching for a reason why people smile when they are content, or laugh when they are amused, or grieve when they lose a loved one. We are much more than our biology, yet psychiatry seems to overlook this fact.

It also doesn’t take a genius to figure out how depression can happen when life gets too much to deal with. There is no scientific or biological mystery to depression, (as psychiatry would have us believe), because depression is not a result of faulty brain chemistry. Depression is a human condition, which all of us can manifest. It is not a disease. If it was biological and chemically based, then it would not be possible to link its increase to economics. Psychiatry and the drug companies who peddle SSRI’s are committing fraud and exploitation on people who are suffering during a very fragile and vulnerable time of their lives. This is morally and ethically unsound and it is wholly wrong. These are inhumane acts for the purpose of profit and the perpetuation of the psychiatric ideology. They are instigated against people who are in a state of utter despair .This is a human rights abuse.

http://www.finfacts.ie/irishfinancenews/article_1022697.shtml

Bloomberg says that since the 2008 downturn began, about 7% of more than 2,000 workers surveyed in England and Wales had started taking antidepressants for “problems directly caused by the pressures of recession on their workplace,” such as longer hours and low morale, according to research published last year by Mind, a UK-based mental health charity.

In the period 2007-09, the countries facing the most severe financial reversals of fortune, such as Greece and Ireland, had greater rises in suicides (17% to 391 and 13% to 527, respectively) than did the other countries, and in Latvia suicides increased by more than 17% between 2007 and 2008.

Peter Byrne, consultant liaison psychiatrist at Newham University Hospital in East London, told the London Independent, and he has seen an increase in patients who have self-harmed or attempted suicide because of “personal debt, loss of hope and uncertainty.”

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2012533/Economic-slump-linked-soaring-suicide-rates-Europe.html

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The impact of losing a job can have very adverse knock-on effects. The effects are not only felt directly by the unemployed person but also by the entire family. Bankruptcy and homeless are frightening prospects. The problem is more prevalent in men which is possible due to the fact that they are much more defined by their work.

This preliminary study points to ‘the absolute importance of providing mental health services to assist those in crisis due to the recession’.

The study clearly shows the link between unemployment and suicide increase and this can no longer be written off as ‘scaremongering

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2011/0704/1224300034102.html

Banks driving people to ‘alcoholism and suicide’

“The banks are driving people to alcoholism, suicide and you name it,” says Byrne, who has not been able to pay the mortgage since his father got sick in 2008 and went into hospital.

http://esciencenews.com/sources/la.times.science/2011/04/14/suicide.increase.linked.economic.downturns

Suicide increase linked to economic downturns

Thursday, April 14, 2011 – 16:30 in Health & Medicine
The rate of suicides rises during times of economic hardship and declines in periods of prosperity, with the association strongest for working adults ages 25 to 54, CDC study finds.Everyone is familiar with stories of businessmen jumping to their deaths from window ledges during the Great Depression. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that those stories, sometimes viewed as apocryphal, have a strong basis in fact: The rate of suicides rises during times of economic hardship and declines in periods of prosperity.

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/apr/01/recession-surge-mental-health-problems

The number of people suffering stress, anxiety and depression because of redundancies, job insecurity and pay cuts owing to the recession is soaring, a study published today reveals.

Worries about the effects of the downturn have produced a sharp rise in people experiencing symptoms of common mental health conditions, according to the report, by academics from Roehampton University and the children’s charity Elizabeth Finn Care.

The incidence of depression has jumped by between four and five-fold as unemployment, cuts in hours and concern about security of tenure have become common, the report found. Among people who have lost their jobs in the last year, 71% have suffered symptoms of depression, 55% said the same about stress and 52% experienced symptoms of anxiety.

Those ranked as of middle socio-economic status were more likely to experience depression (59.8%) than those from lower (44.9%) or higher groups (46.7%).

Among those who had experienced a drop in salary or cut in their hours or days, 51% said they had experienced symptoms of depression, 48% said the same for anxiety and 45% experienced stress symptoms.

Those aged 18-30 were more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms than any other age group.

Dr Joerg Huber, principal lecturer at Roehampton University, said: “What makes our findings worrying is the high percentage of people reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. This applies even more to those who have lost their job or experienced a major loss of income.”

Left untreated, depression could turn into “a vicious cycle of related disability and an inability to work”, he added.

Mental health problems cost the UK about £110bn a year, according to a recent report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the London School of Economics and the NHS Confederation’s mental health network. They found that demand for mental health treatment had increased during 2009 because of rising levels of debt, home repossessions, unemployment and threat of redundancy.

Prof Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said the increase in mental health problems identified by the researchers reflected the recent experience of family doctors. “GPs across the country have been seeing a definite increase in the last year in the number of patients coming to see them with mental health and physical issues. These appeared to be related to either losing their job or fearing their job and livelihood are threatened,” said Field.

He added: “There’s been an increase in people coming to see me with backache and tiredness, as a way of discussing the fact that they’re actually stressed and depressed, because their job is under threat or they are no longer earning enough to feed their family.”

http://theweek.com/article/index/217444/the-case-against-antidepressants

The case against antidepressants
A growing chorus of critics is challenging the widespread use of antidepressants. Why?

POSTED ON JULY 22, 2011, AT 11:33 AM

How do antidepressants work?

No one knows for sure. The most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the U.S. alter levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which has been linked to feelings of well-being. These drugs, grouped together as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and marketed under such names as Prozac, Celexa, Zoloft, and Paxil, essentially keep serotonin in the brain’s synapses for an instant longer than usual; in theory, an increase in the level of serotonin is what makes people feel less depressed or anxious. About three quarters of people who take antidepressants say that the drugs improve their lives. Antidepressants are now the most commonly prescribed medication for adults up to age 59: One in 10 Americans, or 30 million people, takes them every day, generating $10 billion in annual sales. But a spate of critics have recently stepped forward with books and studies that challenge the efficacy of antidepressants, and the theory behind how they work. These critics even charge that the profligate use of SSRIs and other psychiatric medications is unpredictably altering the brain chemistries of millions of people, and contributing to the epidemic of mental illness in the U.S.

What evidence do critics have?

They point to numerous studies—including many done by Big Pharma itself—that have found that SSRIs are little more effective at relieving depression and anxiety than placebos, or dummy pills. In the book The Emperor’s New Drugs, psychologist Irwin Kirsch revealed that more than half of the clinical trials sponsored by drug companies for the Food and Drug Administration between 1987 and 1999 found that SSRIs alleviated depression no better than placebos. (See below.) A more recent study published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association in January 2010 found that for mild to moderate depression, the difference between placebos and antidepressants was “nonexistent to negligible.” The medications proved significantly more effective in only the most severe cases, about 13 percent of patients.

Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?

There’s actually little evidence supporting this widespread belief, which was heavily promoted by the drug companies. In fact, studies have found that the levels of serotonin in depressed people’s brains are the same as they are in those of nondepressed people. If neurotransmitters play some role in depression, critics say, it’s clearly not a simple matter of cause and effect. “The serotonin theory of depression,” says Irish psychiatrist and author David Healy, “is comparable to the masturbatory theory of insanity.”

So what do these drugs do?

They actually create an unnatural imbalance of neurotransmitters, some psychiatrists and scientists say. This is one reason SSRI users can experience unpleasant side effects, ranging from agitation to reduced sex drive to an increase in suicidal thoughts. In his book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, science writer Robert Whitaker argues that long-term use of SSRIs makes people dependent on an artificially elevated level of serotonin, so they “crash” back into depression when they try to go off the medication. It’s no coincidence, he says, that “the numbers of adults and children disabled by mental illness has risen at a mind-boggling rate” since the use of antidepressants and other psychoactive drugs became widespread.

Don’t people say the drugs help them?

Yes, many do. That can be explained, says Kirsch, by the well-documented “placebo effect”: People often recover from a physical or mental illness if they believe a pill or other treatment will help them. “These drugs work because people hope and expect they will,” Kirsch says. The drug companies disagree; they say different people respond to the drugs in different ways, which is why studies of a single drug across a large group can show negligible effects when measured against a placebo. It’s all a matter of matching the right SSRI to the right patient, the drug companies say. Like many psychiatrists, Peter D. Kramer, author of Listening to Prozac, says that SSRIs help many of his depressed, anxious, or highly neurotic patients get “unstuck” from negative patterns of thinking and behavior. Antidepressants “make the brain more flexible,” he recently wrote in The New York Times. “They’ve earned their place in the doctor’s satchel.”

What’s the future for SSRIs?

The critics are hoping to persuade psychiatrists and society as a whole to stop viewing drugs as a go-to cure for depression. Studies show that in cases of mild or moderate depression, psychotherapy—talk therapy—relieves symptoms at the same rate as drugs or placebos; even regular, vigorous exercise has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression as well as pills do. But insurance companies now resist paying for more than a few sessions of talk therapy. In addition, most of the doctors prescribing antidepressants are primary-care doctors, not psychiatrists, and they can’t offer talk therapy. So SSRIs will probably remain widely prescribed for the foreseeable future—especially since many people say they can’t live without them. “I believe antidepressants have saved my life on several occasions,” says the author John Crace, who has written about his struggles with severe depression. “The profession well might say I am deluded, that I am the victim of a medical conspiracy. Possibly I am. But rather deluded than dead.”

How SSRIs were approved

If Prozac and its chemical cousins are barely more effective than placebos, how did the drug companies get the government to approve them? To approve a drug, the Food and Drug Administration requires pharmaceutical companies to provide just two positive trials showing that it’s more effective than a placebo. But the FDA does not set a limit on the number of negative trials a company can carry out before coming up with two positives. Theoretically, a drug company could carry out hundreds of failed trials before finally ending up with two successful ones. Not only that, but the company doesn’t even have to tell the public about the unsuccessful trials. For his book on antidepressants, psychologist Irwin Kirsch used Freedom of Information Act laws to uncover dozens of unpublished scientific trials by Big Pharma in which antidepressants failed to perform better than placebos. When drug companies submit studies of medications to the FDA, Kirsch says, “Adverse data are suppressed. It’s as if the fox has been hired to guard the hen house.”

GSK Swine flu jab ‘narcolepsy risk’…


Does GSK make any products that don’t damage people?.. Seriously. This is becoming ridiculous…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-14239823

A swine flu jab has been linked to rare cases of a sleeping disorder and should be the last line of protection for young people, European regulators say.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said Pandemrix should only be given to children and teenagers at risk of H1N1 flu if other jabs are unavailable.

More than six million doses of the vaccine have been given in the UK.

Ten suspected cases of narcolepsy linked to the vaccine have been reported to the UK’s drug regulator.

Pandemrix, made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was the most widely used in the UK during the 2009/10 flu pandemic.

However, the vaccine is no longer in use and the remaining stocks will be destroyed this autumn.

The EMA’s investigation followed reports, mainly from Finland and Sweden but also from Iceland and the UK, of children and adolescents suffering the sleep disorder narcolepsy, which causes people to fall asleep suddenly and unexpectedly.

It said studies had shown a six to 13-fold increased risk of narcolepsy in children and adolescents vaccinated with Pandemrix compared with unvaccinated children.

In a statement, the EMA said it had “noted that the vaccine is likely to have interacted with genetic or environmental factors which might raise the risk of narcolepsy, and that other factors may have contributed to the results.”

Unknown factors
Overall, Pandemrix has been given to more than 31m people worldwide.

In a statement, GSK said it had received reports of 335 cases of narcolepsy in people vaccinated with Pandemrix by the start of July.

Continue reading the main story
Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy is a rare illness, with around 10 new cases per million people every year
The main symptom is falling asleep suddenly
The cause of narcolepsy remains unclear
Some people may be predisposed to the condition by their genetics
Suggested initial triggers include infections such as measles or mumps, accidents and the hormonal changes that take place in puberty
It most often begins between the ages of 15 and 30
The company added: “GSK is committed to patient safety and will continue to work closely with the EMA and other national regulatory organisations in the best interest of patients.”

A spokesperson for the UK’s drug regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: “The annual seasonal flu vaccines have not been associated with the development of narcolepsy, and there are no new safety concerns associated with these vaccines.

“These vaccines remain recommended for protection against seasonal influenza.”

She added: “The MHRA has been fully involved in the European safety review of Pandemrix vaccine.

“It is possible that other geographical factors in Sweden and Finland, at the time of the pandemic, have contributed to the cases of narcolepsy seen after vaccination with Pandemrix.

“These factors remain unknown, and further studies are ongoing to explore this.

“The regulatory action for Pandemrix vaccines recognises the potential seriousness of H1N1 infection and ensures that the vaccine remains a licensed alternative to protect children and adolescents in need of protection against H1N1, if seasonal vaccines are not available.”

Why James Murdoch Is Now a Headache for Glaxo


http://www.bnet.com/blog/drug-business/why-james-murdoch-is-now-a-headache-for-glaxo/9167

It comes as no surprise to me that GSK has James Murdoch sitting on its board. GSK has a long history of corruption, misbehavior and corporate crime. White collar criminals run these sociopathic organizations. Just another day, another dollar… Another Drug Statistic.


Why James Murdoch Is Now a Headache for Glaxo
By Jim Edwards | July 20, 2011

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) CEO Andrew Witty is no doubt gnashing his teeth over James Murdoch’s testimony to the U.K. parliament yesterday on the phone hacking scandal at News Corp. (NWS). Murdoch has sat on GSK’s board of directors since 2009. Murdoch is on the two of GSK’s board committees, corporate responsibility and remuneration. He now looks like an unfortunate candidate for both those jobs.

In terms of corporate responsibility, Murdoch and his father, Rupert, repeatedly told MPs that their company was too big for them to know what was going on even at their flagship newspaper properties, or that they had failed to see when their lieutenants were misleading them.

Time and again Murdoch told the committee that important decisions — such as paying off celebrities whose phones had been hacked or doing internal investigations to root out wrongdoers — were delegated to lower-rung managers who then got things wrong or actively conspired to conceal the rot inside News. The company has 53,000 employees. They just can’t pay attention to the whole thing. James Murdoch said he didn’t even know whether the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (the equivalent of the SEC) was investigating his division of the company.

GSK, however, employs 96,500 workers worldwide. Clearly, on the basis of yesterday’s questioning, it’s too big for James Murdoch to pay a whole lot of attention to.

Who pays who?

In terms of remuneration, Murdoch received $10.3 million in compensation in 2010 for being News’ CEO of Europe and Asia. Witty received only £2.3 million for being in charge of the whole shebang. How likely is Murdoch to begrudge Witty, whose company pays him $158,000 in annual director fees, a bump in pay?

Murdoch’s presence at GSK is becoming an issue among corporate governance geeks, such as Richard Northedge at the financial trade publication Director of Finance:

… shareholders might belatedly start asking what experience he brings: his whole working life has been inside his father’s empire.

GSK says it is sticking by Murdoch:

A Glaxo spokeswoman writes us to say that Murdoch has made a “strong contribution” to the board…and that “we believe that the full facts must be established and the ongoing investigations be allowed to take place and come to a considered conclusion.”

Still, Witty and fellow directors might want to change the PIN numbers on their voicemails, just in case.

Are GSK really as loyal to Britain as they would like us to believe?….


http://www.hounslowchronicle.co.uk/west-london-news/local-hounslow-news/2009/02/04/glaxosmithkline-criticised-over-tax-as-job-loss-rumours-surface-109642-22851995/

GlaxoSmithKline criticised over tax as job loss rumours surface
Feb 4 2009 By Lucy Proctor

Brentford-based drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline has been accused of denying UK tax coffers a fair proportion of its profits by listing lucrative brands in foreign countries.

GSK has been named in a Guardian newspaper investigation as an example of a UK-based company listing intellectual property – which generates profits on royalties and trademarks – in tax-friendly countries to get around the full force of the UK’s 28 per cent rate of corporation tax on UK profits.

The firm, which employs 18,000 people in Britain and has the Brentford base listed as its global headquarters, faces questions on why it uses branches of the company in countries like Puerto Rico – which have lower tax rates – to list its more profitable assets such as big brands of drugs.
Twickenham MP and Liberal Democrat shadow chancellor Vince Cable backed the newspapers’ campaign to shed light on the way big business protects profits from the UK tax system, writing: “Companies should pay the government of their host country for the infrastructure and other tax-financed services they receive: education, health, transport systems, policing.”
However, GSK is also listed in America where around 50 per cent of its operations are carried out and claims to only conduct around five per cent of its business in Britain.
A GSK spokesman said: “Given that we are a global company with over 100,000 workers employed all over the world in many different countries we feel it’s perfectly appropriate to list our intellectual property in different places.
“We feel it is the nature of global business and routine to do that.
“What I would whole-heartedly deny is that it is some kind of tax avoidance. We meet all the UK standards which are detailed in our annual report and I would emphasis that we do pay the corporate tax rates.”
He added that GSK also contributes taxes through employees’ PAYE.
It has been reported that the group would announce 6,000 to 10,000 job losses, but a Glaxo spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the rumours, only saying the company is implementing an ongoing restructuring programme and are due to announce their fourth-quarter results today.

http://www.bnet.com/blog/drug-business/gsks-alleged-19-billion-tax-dodge-went-against-its-own-ethics-code/1621

GSK’s Alleged $1.9 Billion Tax Dodge Went Against Its Own Ethics Code
By Jim Edwards | May 22, 2009

If you thought GlaxoSmithKline was a British company with a British corporate headquarters whose American Depositary Receipts traded on the New York Stock Exchange, you’re wrong! Turns out GSK is a Swiss company, and its U.S. unit is just a device to dodge taxes, according to the WSJ.

The U.S. government has taken GSK to court, demanding $1.9 billion in taxes owed. It alleges that in the merger of Glaxo-Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham, Glaxo became the U.S. unit of a Swiss-based parent. The newly merged U.S. GlaxoSmithKline then paid tax deductible compensation payments to its Swiss parent, thus reducing its tax bill.

The IRS — unsurprisingly — doesn’t quite understand how paying money to yourself makes it non-taxable. This battle comes after GSK lost a 2006 tax war and ended up paying $3.4 billion in unpaid taxes.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/mar/20/firms-quit-britain-tax-reasons

Andrew Witty, chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, rejects the idea of being a company that ‘floats around in Bermuda’. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
The head of Britain’s biggest drugs manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, has delivered a stinging attack on companies that shift their headquarters abroad in search of lower taxes, declaring that it is “completely wrong” for businesses to view themselves as “mid-Atlantic floating entities” with no connection to society.

Speaking before the budget, in which George Osborne will be under pressure to create a growth agenda for business, GSK’s chief executive, Andrew Witty, said that banks, hedge funds and industrial companies that look only for lower tax regimes are contributing to a damaging destruction of trust between the public and the corporate world.

“One of the reasons why we’ve seen an erosion of trust broadly in big companies is they’ve allowed themselves to be seen as being detached from society and they will float in and out of societies according to what the tax regime is,” said Witty. “I think that’s completely wrong.”

GSK, based in Brentford, west London, employs 16,000 people in Britain out of a global workforce of 98,000. The company produces treatments for asthma, cancer and HIV, as well as brands including Horlicks, Aquafresh, Lucozade and Ribena.

In an interview with the Observer, Witty said: “While the chief executive of the company could move, maybe the top 20 directors could move, what about the 16,000 people who work for us? It’s completely wrong, I think, to play fast and loose with your connections with society in that way.”

HSBC, Diageo, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser have all mooted the possibility of leaving Britain in search of lower rates of tax.

Witty scorned the possibility of being a company that “floats around in Bermuda”, saying that businesses should stick with their home country through bad times as well as good. “We could go, in theory, anywhere for a low tax rate. But first of all, how do you know that country isn’t going to change its tax rate in 10 minutes?

“Secondly, isn’t it better to be in a country and say: ‘Let’s try to work through the difficult times and get to the good times?'”

GSK paid £1.3bn of tax on profits of £4.5bn last year, although virtually all of this was levied on its operations overseas. The previous year, it paid £417m in corporation tax.

Furious Seasons GSK Video…


This video was posted on youtube by the furious seasons website a few years ago. It’s a shame that Philip Dawdy of Furious Seasons didn’t keep the blog going, it was a great site with a wealtlh of debate and discussion on the pharmaceutical industry, psychiatry, psych drugs and patients experiences with them.

Check it out.

http://www.furiousseasons.com/

GlaxoSmithKline’s Corporate Face.

Macau, HK order recall of Glaxo antibiotic…


http://www.macaudailytimes.com.mo/macau/27463-Macau-order-recall-Glaxo-antibiotic.html

Macau, HK order recall of Glaxo antibiotic
20/07/2011 09:38:00

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has been ordered to take back the Augmentin antibiotic used to treat infections which contained chemical additives

Macau and Hong Kong have ordered pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to recall an antibiotic used to treat infections which contained chemical additives. The Hong Kong government warned it may take legal action against the manufacturer.

Hong Kong health department said late Monday tests revealed the British firm’s Augmentin antibiotic tablet (375mg) contained several plasticisers, including diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), raising “quality concerns”.
The information was provided to Macau’s Health Bureau who yesterday also ordered the recall of the antibiotic.
According to health authorities, the amount of chemicals – used to make plastics pliable – uncovered in the Augmentin tablets was “considered unlikely to cause acute harmful effects if taken according to the recommended dosage”.
Augmentin 375mg tablet is an antibiotic for the treatment of bacterial infections.
Hong Kong’s health department said in a statement it would “seek Department of Justice’s advice on possible legal actions against [GlaxoSmithKline]”.
Further tests have been conducted but the sources of the plasticisers are yet to be determined, they added.

“Since GSK could not provide a satisfactory explanation on sources of the plasticisers, the quality of the product is in question.”

“Patients of the Conde de São Januário Hospital and health centres, as well as those of private clinics, who are currently using the drug for treatment, should consult their attending doctors or pharmacists as soon as possible to get a new prescription and should not just stop using the drug,” the Health Bureau said yesterday.
Anyone who has taken the drug and has either doubts or is feeling unwell should seek professional advice from healthcare providers, they added. Residents can also call the Department of Pharmaceutical Affairs of the Health Bureau (85983523/66833329) to get more information.
In a statement yesterday, the drug firm said it had launched an “urgent and thorough investigation” to determine the source of the additives.
“GSK does not intentionally use any plasticisers in the manufacture of Augmentin,” they said, adding they were “significantly lower than the levels that the US and European authorities deem as presenting risk to humans.”

Health authorities in both SARs conducted enhanced surveillance following the recall of GSK’s Augmentin powder for syrup that was contaminated with a cancer-causing plastic additive.
Hong Kong’s health department in June ordered a recall of the antibiotic in syrup form after they discovered elevated levels of DIDP, warning that long-term consumption at high levels may have adverse effects on the liver. Macau’s health watchdog followed suit and requested all pharmacies to recall the two antibiotic syrups produced by GSK.