Ben Goldacre… Running With The Pharma Hares (Or Whores?) And Hunting With The Hounds..


“…Now it is unfair to say that if Ben Goldacre didn’t exist, Andrew Witty, the CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, might have had to invent him.”..

Professor Nutt worked as an advisor to the Ministry of Defence, Department of Health and the Home Office.[9] He served on the Committee on Safety of Medicines where he participated in an enquiry into the use of SSRI anti-depressants in 2003. His participation was criticised as, owing to his financial interest in GlaxoSmithKline, he had to withdraw from discussions of the drug Seroxat.[31

Ben Goldacre really gets on my wick.

He runs with the hares and hunts with the hounds, and that grates on me.

His recent tweet made my blood boil, but I’m not going to get too deep into it now, it’s a post for a another day (and I am supposed to be on a break), but what I will say is, I used to dismiss comments on other blogs about Ben Goldacre being some sort of shill for the pharmaceutical industry, but having observed him the last few years, I’m really not so sure anymore…

His recent promotion of Prof David Nutt’s utterly reductive and unhelpful comments on SSRI’s is enough to cause alarm to anyone who knows that these drugs can be harmful. The truth about these drugs is now widely accepted amongst many in David and Ben’s profession: These drugs can be seriously dangerous and damaging, and in some cases they can cause death. That’s a fact. A well established fact.

David Nutt has been pushing his pro- SSRI agenda for years, and most of what he sprouts is misinformation.

The Seroxat Secrets blog has been drawing attention to Nutt’s bullshit for years. Nutt has done work for nearly every pharmaceutical company, and he even apparently has (or had) shares in Glaxo! And this is a guy who is supposedly considered a key opinion leader on mental health issues and SSRI’s?

Gimme a break…

If Ben agrees with Nutt, then Ben clearly sees no wrong in Seroxat, GSK or the blind promotion of SSRI’s..

If he is of David Nutt’s ilk where these issues are concerned then he just cannot be a genuine patient advocate.

Ben might not be a shill (as many claim) but he certainly is not on the side of patients, and definitely not on the side of those who have been injured by defective pharmaceutical drugs. He speaks a lot about ‘unpublished trials’ but little about the devastating effects that defective drugs like Avandia, Vioxx, Seroxat and Zyprexa have on those who suffer serious adverse reactions.

Any morsel of respect I might have had for him gets less so the more I delve into what he really thinks..

This article (quoting David Nutt), about Statins and SSRI’s, that Ben promoted on his blog, does a shameful disservice to anyone who has been harmed by SSRI’s. Furthermore, I reckon a good percentage of Ben’s readership (of Bad Pharma etc) were likely suspicious of industry already and many of them probably think Ben is on the good side of the debate because Ben presents himself as an ‘industry critic’, however I don’t believe that Ben is sincere in that regard.

His Alltrials agenda (however well intentioned it may seem) is going to give Big Pharma even more power, and sway.


Read Healy’s take on it here, and find out.

David (Nutt) believes there is still a great deal of stigma around mental health, which is why sensationalized headlines are still written. The suffering associated with a diagnosis of depression is not valued in the same way as, for example, that of a heart attack, and David believes that by perpetuating the idea that depressed people don’t need medication, their suffering is devalued further.

If the quote above is a clear reflection of what Ben himself thinks about Depression and medication then it’s obvious to me why Ben is not a sincere patient advocate. The pharmaceutical industry and psychiatry have stigmatized people with labels like depression for decades, and patients were further duped by nonsense such as chemical imbalances theories, and the medication for life angle etc. Those with ‘mental’ disorders under any kind of psychiatric regimen, or medication regime, have been treated appallingly for decades. If this is the type of article that Ben endorses then he clearly agrees with Nutt and is completely on the side of biological psychiatry.

However, he is shifty, because, he doesn’t just come out and give his views clearly, he relies on promoting these kinds of articles in order to articulate his own opinions without having the balls to actually say them himself. He refuses to debate with mental health awareness activist bloggers ( and ex-SSRI users) like me, and he uses his popular persona to spread these misinformed (and dangerous) ideas. It is quite clever really, you have to hand it to him, he has a lot of people fooled..

“…But are SSRIs dangerous? David discussed a recent spate of lawsuits regarding the harms from overdosing on SSRIs. However, evidence from the UK Office of National Statistics suggests that the older tricyclic depression medications are far more harmful, but continued to be prescribed due to the confusion in the public mind about the harms of SSRIs, potentially leading to unnecessary deaths…”

If Ben agrees with Nutt here about SSRI’s being confused with Tricylic’s in the public mind then he is even more disingenuous than I thought, and if these views are similar to Ben’s views then it doesn’t surprise me that he was so condescending and dismissive of my previous attempts to engage with him about Seroxat. The SSRI’s are just as harmful as the Tricylics, and in many ways they are more harmful. I’d like to see Ben debate Prof David Healy or Prof Peter Gotzsche  on these issues, but Ben wouldn’t have the balls to do that because he’s too busy self promoting, and running with the hares and hunting with the hounds.

Pick a side Ben, grow some balls, and start giving your readers, and patients, the respect they deserve..

Promoting the rubbish views of the quack Prof David Nutt is an insult to depressed patients and those who have been prescribed toxic SSRI’s…

Of course Ben will just react to a blog post like this with some attack on David Healy, and draw attention to Healy’s past work for Pharma. Healy did do some work for Pharma early in his career, but when he saw how they were hiding trials, which resulted in killing patients, he decided to speak out and stake his career on speaking his mind (that’s a sincere and true patient advocate, something Ben is clearly not).

I know which side Healy is on, with Ben, it’s not so transparent, actually it’s far from clear where Ben is concerned. His positions on issues of patient harm from pharmaceutical drugs are extremely unclear, which is ironic considering all Ben bangs on about lately is ‘transparency’ (which is another post for another day too).

If Ben is the patient advocate that he claims to be then why not debate me, or Bob Fiddaman, or Leonie Fennell, or Prof David Healy, or any number of people who have experiences of SSRI’s, psychiatry and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry? Why not engage with us? Let’s have a recorded debate Ben, with today’s technology we could do it from our laptops…

Seroxat does not work in majority of depressed patients says latest study – Prof Nutt disagrees

Seroxat does not work in majority of depressed patients says latest study – so writes The New Scientist – old news you might think: The antidepressant Prozac and related drugs are no better than placebo in treating all but the most severely depressed patients, according to a damaging assessment of the latest generation of antidepressants. SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, were supposed to revolutionise care of depression – by treating symptoms without the side effects of older drugs, such as tricyclics. But despite selling in vast quantities, a new meta-analysis of these drugs, from data presented to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), appears to suggest that for most patients they do not work. A previous study had indicated that the benefits of antidepressants might be exaggerated. UK and US researchers led by Irving Kirsch of Hull University, UK, studied all clinical trials submitted to the FDA for the licensing of the four SSRIs: fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine, nefazodone, and paroxetine (Seroxat or Paxil), for which full datasets were available. They conclude that, “compared with placebo, the new-generation antidepressants do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate or even very severe depression”.

However not everyone agrees with these new findings – in the UK, Professor David Nutt has been speaking out against the Kirsch study – using reasoned, scientific argument: “Anti-depressants work in clinical practice,” says Nutt. “Everybody knows they work.” And there’s more – he says the study [Kirsch] itself is rubbish. He says failed drug trials often remain unpublished because their design is shoddy or their results uninteresting. He criticises the PLoS paper as a “mishmash of quality trials and lousy trials leading to a false criticism of these drugs”, which he maintains do help those with depression even if their effectiveness falls below the NICE’s “arbitrary” threshold

Dr Nutt thinks it is misleading to compare these drugs with placebos, since what matters is that they work when compared with some alternatives, such as “talk therapy”, for which he believes there is even less evidence of effectiveness. And still he goes on: “There is good evidence of antidepressant efficacy from other types of studies, especially relapse prevention, which show significant benefit over placebo.”

I wonder why David Nutt takes this point of view? Maybe the answer lies here – Professor Nutt has acted as a consultant to Pfizer, GSK, MSD, Novartis, Asahi, Organon, Cypress, Lilly, Janssen, Lundbeck, Wyeth. He has speaking honoraria (in addition to above) with Reckitt-Benkiser and Cephalon. Grants or clinical trial payments from MSD, GSK, Novartis, Servier, Janssen, Yamanouchi, Lundbeck, Pfizer, Wyeth, Organon. He has shares in GSK (ex-Wellcome). Professor Nutt also promoted Seroxat at Glaxo’s launch of Seroxat for “social anxiety disorder”. Conflict of interest, David? More about Nutt and adult ADHD here.,



  1. kiwi

    Sounds like little Bens gone totally nutty!
    As for that P-Nutt … he has no objective voice whatsoever… he’s clearly another marionette…like that one in New York.
    Sitting a peanut on a horse would be very dangerous, for if big,round and fat it would easily fall off …and hence such an activity may be considered more dangerous than ecstacy …well for a big fat peanut that may well be the case.
    A certificate a selfie and a peanut …some people are easily pleased!

  2. The Evidencer

    “Especially relapse prevention”? Just stuff it! That was Keller & Krew too. They had ppl on Efexor, tossed those doing poorly, divided the rest in half and had one group discontinue. I THINK they got two-three weeks. (Will advise later). Then they called those ppl a “placebo” group! Why not a Discontinued group? Of course they did worse. Then they did the same. Tossed those for whom the 2nd round of Efxr wasn’t doing anything (brain too damaged to respond), divided the into continue and “placebo” groups, and ran for more months. The N went from around 1000 to about 49 over the course. They had a Prozac (I think) group alongside but didn’t report on them.

    I didn’t give Soldacre much thought and reacted like you did. I hadn’t read this post til now, but you can see my reaction when I saw the Tweets. World class filth. Drugmakers must be hurting. Keep up the heat.

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