Dr Terry Lynch… The Doctor Who Stands For Truth…

“You look like you are going to be shot,” I said to my wife Mary as she walked across the forecourt of the petrol station having made some purchase in the adjoining shop.  Her serious facial expression was compounded by a down-turning mouth and both her arms were as stiff as ramrods at her side.

The occasion was sometime in the early 90’s and this was an everyday condition for Mary along with several other characteristics which included signs of Parkinson’s Disease, a bloated weight increase, a noticeable thinning of her hair, an inability to use an ATM, safely drive a car or follow the plot of a movie.  Also, she experienced stomach cramps, kidney problems and at night emitted a whiteish discharge from her mouth.  She could never wake until nearly lunchtime every single day and yet, worst of all and on an entirely random basis, she would experience the most awful and frightening hallucinations at around 2 am which would leave her drained and shocked.

At this stage, Mary and I and our two daughters had been living with this situation for about ten years.  In 1983 she had been given a diagnosis of ‘manic depression’ or ‘Bi-polar’ and had been put on a cocktail of drugs which included the so-called mood stabilizer Lithium, the neuroleptic, Thorazine, and the so-called anti-depressant Surmontil.  All of the features described above had come about gradually, and somehow, we as a family had come to live with them, more in fact, come to accept them as part of this ‘Bipolar’ condition.  Mary would pay regular visits to her psychiatrist, her prescription would be renewed, and any mention of her state was downplayed and more than counterbalanced by the ‘optimistic’ claim that she was not back in a psychiatric ‘hospital‘, that she was, in fact, working as a music teacher that indeed she was and that all in all, things were really not too bad at all.  And for all those years that was the way life was and the random hallucinations continued.

Until that is 1993.  Following a brief ‘hospital’ stay her psychiatrist took her off the Surmontil drug cold turkey.  It was a turning point because since that year, though it didn’t become evident to us for some time, Mary never again experienced any of those awful night-time hallucinations.  Was the penny finally beginning to drop – was there a connection with the Surmontil?

Up to that point, despite all the visible signs in front of us, we had never seriously questioned the whole drug regime she had been told she would be on indefinitely.  I particularly feel responsible.  Mary was in a drug induced fog all the time, but I undoubtedly should have been more clear-headed.

In the late 90’s and beginning to see the good effects of no longer taking Surmontil, Mary herself came across Dr. Peter Breggin’s eye-opening book ‘Toxic Psychiatry.’  I began to read it too and our real education commenced from that time.  We cut our connection with ‘Aware’ the family support group that completely embraced psychiatry’s medical model in advocating total drug compliance.

And then in a Sunday newspaper in 2001, Mary read an article entitled ‘The Doctor, who won’t do Drugs.’  It was written to mark the publication of a new book ‘Beyond Prozac’ by Limerick-based Dr. Terry Lynch.  Terry had been trained and for ten years had practiced as a GP.  Increasingly he had become unhappy with his training and the conventional medical response of drug therapy he was expected to administer to his patients.  He had retrained as a psychotherapist completing an MA in Humanistic and Integrative Psychotherapy at the University of  Limerick in 2002.

The article by Annemarie Hourihan stated “Terry Lynch thinks that human misery has been oversold or perhaps sold from the wrong stall.  He thinks that natural unhappiness has been rechristened depression, fed with pills no one understood and policed by a medical profession in general and a psychiatric profession in particular that lives on wishful thinking.  Terry Lynch is a doctor.”  Acknowledging a short-term role for drugs, Terry was quoted, saying, “I am seriously questioning whether the drugs used against depression work by re-balancing a supposed chemical imbalance.”

In our co-authored book, ‘Soul Survivor – A Personal Encounter with Psychiatry’, Mary describes her first meeting with Terry.  “I was so inspired and encouraged by the article and the book that I wanted to thank him personally.  I managed to locate his phone number and spoke to him for the first time.  I subsequently met him a number of times and the enthusiasm and sincerity of the man were like a good tonic.  From the word go, he believed in me as a survivor just as much as I believed in him as a professional and above all as a good thinker, someone who didn’t take things at face value and had the courage of his convictions.  He listened to me, encouraged me and his great understanding of the psychiatric system greatly helped me.  Equally important, he helped and emboldened Jim along the road he too had started to travel and together we will be forever grateful to him.”  This was not a client/professional relationship but rather a growing bond of friendship.

Terry Lynch has been propounding his same views in the intervening years since 2001.  ‘Beyond Prozac’ was shortlisted for the MIND Book of the Year in 2002 and became a best-seller in Ireland.  In 2012, he published his second book ‘Selfhood’, a practical self-help guide designed to help people to recover their sense of self, be happier and more fulfilled.

Now in September 2015 comes his third – ‘Depression Delusion: The Myth of the Brain Chemical Imbalance’ – in which he challenges psychiatry’s widely proclaimed theory.  He states that there is no scientific evidence  or medical test to support this theory that he prefers to refer to as a ‘myth’ akin to a religious belief backed up by vested interest in the pharmaceutical industry.  For years, the psychiatric profession and many GPs have sold the theory to the extent of having it now widely accepted by the general public.  This he states, is serious misinformation, a falsehood as untrue as the flat earth myth of past centuries.  The comprehensively researched work complete with detailed references has in the words of Dr. Joanna Moncrieff of the University of London “given one of the most pervasive and harmful myths of modern times a thorough debunking”.

At a MindFreedom Ireland hosted event in Cork on September 8th – An Evening with Dr. Terry Lynch – he said we have to reappraise what depression is.  The chemical imbalance theory has distorted our view.  It is not about the brain; it is more about woundedness, trauma and the defense mechanisms we create in response.  The fundamental question should be ‘What’s happened to you?’ not ‘What’s wrong with you?’  Psychiatry has sidelined human experience, reinterpreted it in its medical language and made it their terrain.  The chemical imbalance theory has provided a legitimacy and validity for the prescription and that doctors know what they are doing.  Psychiatrists, he said, have become lost in their profession.

In stating such views in Ireland, Terry Lynch has put himself out on a limb receiving little or no support from any of his medical colleagues.  He is not deterred.  “I don’t like injustice.  I don’t like prejudice.  I don’t like deception.  I don’t like misinformation.  I like honesty.  I like truth.  I like equality” he states.

In conclusion, I was flabbergasted to read on MIA the recent comments of Ronald Pies in the Psychiatric Times that “to my knowledge, no professional psychiatric organization has ever publicly promoted a chemical imbalance theory of mental illness in general”.

‘Depression Delusion’ would make an ideal present for him.


Great New Website Calling For Reform Of The MHRA (UK Medicines Regulator)

Great to see my blog highlighted on a new web-site calling for reform of the MHRA.

I think it speaks for itself- check it out-







Why Campaign?

 A change in practice means  


have a chance to be saved 

Jeremy Hunt – Secretary of State for Health

Ben Goldacre – journalist, author and campaigner.

Consumers for Health Choice – An organisation dedicated to fighting for individual rights and freedom of choice in health matters.

David Tredinnick MP- Homeopathy advocate

Bach Flower Remedies- Nelsons UK- Powerful flower remedy business

ESCOP -The European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy – An umbrella organisation representing national herbal medicine or phytotherapy associations across Europe

Richard Brook – former Chief Exececutive of Mind.

Dr Malcolm Kendrick – Doctor and critic

The Royal London Hospital for Integrated

Medicine (RLHIM) – The largest public-sector provider of integrated medicine in Europe.

Peter Gotzsche, Nordic Cochrane Centre

Stephen Dorrell MP – Former chair of government health committee

Caroline Noakes MP – Campaigns for regulation of diet pills and critic of MHRA

Examination of horrors committed by GSK, including links to Panorama: 

At $50,000 a round – 
Chemo Kills
Dangerous licensed drugs: 

The World’s Most Expensive Drugs – $100,000 a year is nothing:

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the government agency which insures that medicines and medical devices work. An undoubtly crucial organisation in the UK. However the organisation we depend on for our health has deep flaws we cannot overlook.

As an example, cancer patients in need of chemotherapy have to foot the bill of £40,000 for only one round of treatment. The reason for this is chemotherapy makes a massive amount of money for the pharmaceutical companies supplying it so these companies do not want a cheaper alternative to become available in the UK. Unfortunately the MHRA who work closely with the Pharma’s have proven links to these organisations.

Ian Hudson, MHRA CEO       Gerald Heddell, MHRA Director

Both former employees of Glaxo Smith Kilne, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company

There have been many reports criticising the links to pharma. Suggesting that the MHRA not only have past links with pharma but also cover for them in the media. Glaxo Smith Kilne’s (GSK) Cerarix HPV Vaccines for cervical cancer: The MHRA systematically tampered with 6000 reports of adverse reactions to declare the vaccine safe.



Would you say it is a coincedence that the pharma company involved is the previous work place of two board member of the MHRA? 

Let’s take back the MHRA and ban the influence of greedy pharma companies.


An independent and honest MHRA free from commercial influence will open many doors in terms of medical treatment options.

As members of the UK we deserve the right to be informed on the safety of procedures and treatments available in the country. An independent MHRA would vanish any ulterior motives to hide or cover any medical mistakes.

The right of choice would become ours. There are numerous treatments available in European countries that have been banned from the UK purely due to pharma greed.

Now is the time to act! Inlight of Brexit the Jeremy Hunt will have to rearrange some of the UK’s medical relationships. Why not the MHRA’s?

Help us acheive our goals and together we could save countless human lives!

A Big Welcome To GSK’s New CEO… Emma Walmsley…

GSK welcomed a new CEO today– Emma Walmsley. Emma owns in excess of 200,000 GSK shares, and at £16 quid a share, she’ll be rolling in dough in no time, so you can be sure she’ll be looking after GSK’s interests just as as good as Andrew and JP did… the GSK cash cow’s gotta keep on rolling… never mind the harm drugs such as Seroxat cause vulnerable people… just make damn sure that cash keeps rolling in…

Do you think GSK’s corporate culture is going to change now that a woman is going to be in charge when Mr Witty leaves GSK in 2017?

Simple answer: “money is the root of all evil”…

See Whistleblower Greg Thorpe’s Department of Justice complaint (link below) for a colossal lesson in the meaning of that phrase…



Image kindly borrowed from https://twitter.com/NeLLLieBly

Other Big Pharma Whistle-Blowers..

I don’t often highlight other pharmaceutical companies or meds (apart from Seroxat/GSK issues etc), but I noticed an interesting case involving a pharma-whistleblower called Brian Shields. Brian brought an FCA case against Genentech. Similar to the way GSK exploited depressed teens, and adults, with the promotion of Paxil, it seems that Genentech targeted cancer patients with their unethical shenanigans.

Is there no low – low enough that pharma will go?

Apparently not…

Well done Brian and thanks for the re-tweet on twitter (and great to see you are still actively speaking out against injustice).

If you haven’t read GSK whistle-blower Greg Thorpe’s FCA complaint, you should check it out here-




OUTRAGE: Big Pharma ordered to pay $70M after concealing adverse effects of cancer drugs and misleading doctors

Big pharma

(NaturalNews) In a case that clearly illustrates the extent of corruption, callousness and greed on the part of Big Pharma’s cancer industry, two drug companies have been ordered to pay nearly $70 million to settle a federal lawsuit over charges that the companies lied about the effectiveness of a cancer drug.

The two companies, Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals, agreed to pay $67 million to avoid further litigation over its deceptive marketing of Tarceva, a drug used to treat non-small-cell lung cancer.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“The lawsuit claimed that from 2006 to 2011 Genentech and its marketing partner OSI Pharmaceuticals promoted Tarceva to treat all patients with non-small-cell lung cancer even though studies had shown that it worked for just those who had never smoked or had a certain gene mutation known as EGFR. Epidermal growth factor receptor is a type of protein found on the surface of cells in the body.”

A former Genentech employee, Brian Shields, filed the whistleblower suit in 2011 after his employers refused to acknowledge his concerns regarding the marketing of the ineffective drug. Shields said that he faced retaliation from his superiors after voicing his concerns and was told that he was not a “team player.”

Lies and bribes

Details of the lawsuit reveal the unscrupulous and illegal marketing techniques employed by the drug maker, which almost certainly led to the early deaths of patients who received treatment involving the useless drug.

“The lawsuit said the companies gave their sales representatives promotional materials that discouraged doctors from testing patients for EGFR.

“The companies also promoted Tarceva, the lawsuit said, by giving doctors illegal kickbacks disguised as fees for making speeches or serving on Genentech’s advisory boards.

“Sales representatives across the country were ‘instructed to spend lavishly’ on physicians, the case said, and given ‘an unlimited budget to wine and dine.’

“Genentech also organized lunches or dinners for lung cancer patients where ‘patient ambassadors’ were paid fees to speak about how Tarceva could be used in ways never approved by regulators, the lawsuit said.”

“This is about lives”

Under the terms of the False Claims Act, the federal government will receive $62.6 million of the settlement, State Medicaid programs will get $4.4 million and Shields and his lawyers will share the remaining $10 million.

“This is about lives,” said whistleblower Shields, a former Army helicopter pilot. “”Hopefully this will have a lasting effect and improve cancer care.”

From a Justice Department statement:

“Pharmaceutical companies have a responsibility to provide accurate information to patients and health care providers about their prescription drugs. The Department of Justice will hold these companies accountable that mislead the public about the efficacy of the products.”

Unfortunately, drug manufacturers have a history of ignoring their “responsibility” to patients and the healthcare industry – there have been numerous cases of fraudulent marketing, falsified study results and bribery on the part of drug makers.

Profits vs. people

Big Pharma has shown that it will stop at nothing in the pursuit of profits. It’s clear that the “cancer industry” has no interest in curing anyone – human lives and ethics are far less important than dollars to these greedy and soulless criminals.

The profits raked in by Big Pharma are absolutely staggering. It’s important to understand what kind of money we’re actually talking about.

From GlobalResearch.ca:

“Big Pharma’s top eleven corporations generated net profits in just one decade from 2003 to 2012 of nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars – that’s just net profit alone. The net profit for 2012 amongst those top eleven amounted to $85 billion in just that one year.”

If it weren’t for the courage of whistleblowers like Brian Shields, Big Pharma would simply continue its corrupt practices virtually unchecked – after all, the FDA and other regulatory agencies have been bought out by the drug industry and do little to protect the public from the fraudulent marketing of useless and dangerous medications.

If enough people come forward and speak out, as Shields did, we might begin to see changes in the way Big Pharma conducts business – but don’t hold your breath…

If They Can Remove Lariam From The Irish Market… Then Why Not Remove Seroxat?…

Seroxat, is arguably, more controversial than Lariam, and also caused similar psychiatric side effects such as suicide, etc. They remove Lariam, yet keep Seroxat on the market…why?

Note also that it was Roche (the manufacturer of lariam) who chose to remove the drug- not the Irish authorities…

-thanks to Examining Medicine for this point–





Controversial drug Lariam removed from sale

Friday 16 September 2016 16.56

Lariam's acknowledged side effects can be very severe and include anxiety, depression, paranoia and suicidal behaviour
Lariam’s acknowledged side effects can be very severe and include anxiety, depression, paranoia and suicidal behaviour

A drug at the centre of a number of legal actions against the State by members of the Defence Forces has been withdrawn from sale in Ireland.

It has emerged Lariam, an anti-malarial drug, was taken off the market at the end of July.

For many years Lariam was given to Irish Defence Forces personnel deployed to missions in sub-Saharan Africa to prevent the life-threatneing illness.

Lariam’s acknowledged side effects can be very severe and include anxiety, depression, paranoia and suicidal behaviour.

Fifty serving or former members of the Defence Forces have lodged claims against the State having been given the drug.

Legal proceedings have been served in 37 cases.

It has emerged that the drug manufacturer Roche took Lariam off the market in this country on 31 July. It remains available in other jurisdictions.

A spokesperson for the company said the decision followed a review of the products it offers here and was not related in any way to pending legal actions.

The company says Lariam was taken off sale following “a portfolio reassessment” by the company and three other products have also been discontinued.

They also point out that it remains available in 16 European countries.

The decision to withdraw Lariam ( which is also known as Mefloquine) from sale has been welcomed by some of those who allege they suffer from side-effects but they want assurances it will no longer be used by the Defence Forces.

Anthony Moore, who curates the Action Lariam Group for Irish Soldiers Facebook page, says they have asked the Defence Forces to take it off and will continue to do so.

Mr Moore is a former naval diver and soldier who served on numerous missions abroad.

A  Department of Defence statement said the Defence Forces were made aware by Roche Products Ltd that Lariam was being taken off the Irish market but the drug is still available to them via two main wholesalers.

The statement says there are no plans to withdraw Lariam from the range of anti-malarial medications they use.

The statement points out the health and welfare of Defence Forces members is of the highest priority and significant precautions are taken by medical officers in assessing the medical suitability of members to take any anti-malarial medications.

Meanwhile a Department of Defence working group initially set up in 2011 and reconvened in 2013 is continuing to examine all issues surrounding the use of the drug.


Songwriter Dylan Tighe Discusses His Prescription Of The Suicide Drug Seroxat At 19…

Dylan’s story eerily echoes, very closely ,to my personal Seroxat story..

One which I will be bringing to closure soon on this blog…



Dylan Tighe: ‘Instead of relieving my distress, I felt the drugs were compounding it’  The first time Dylan Tighe, who is 34, attended a psychiatrist was at the age of 18, after experiencing a prolonged bout of depression. “I just felt listless. There was a complete lack of desire and absence of joy that was overwhelming. It was an experience that would be repeated again,” says the award-winning theatre director.

After a brief consultation, he was prescribed Seroxat, an antidepressant, for the best part of a year. It was the beginning of several years of being prescribed a range of antidepressants and mood-stabilisers which, he says, had often severe side effects, such as an increased heart rate, short-term memory loss and sexual problems. In the meantime, he felt other options weren’t being made available, such as talk therapy, which might helped him resolve underlying issues. “Drugs were always the first port of call. There was a dismissive attitude towards talk therapy . . . instead of relieving my distress, I felt the drugs were compounding it.

“My engagement with the service and lack of choice disempowered me to the point where I’m sure it was a factor in the depression itself. “I found the relationship between the psychiatrist and patient quite patronising. They are the ones with the knowledge and power. Yet, all the assumptions on which I was being prescribed medication were very challengable – but it’s difficult to do so when you’re at a very vulnerable point.”

He says he would have liked to have been listened to about what he felt would work in his case – but says there was little leeway outside of the medical approach. After exploring options on his own, he found psychotherapy “infinitely more helpful”.

“The most helpful therapists were those with the most empathy. That was almost totally absent from psychiatry, in my experience.” Tighe hasn’t used drugs for about two years. He has serious reservations about psychiatric medication, but accepts that some people find them helpful. “You can’t generalise. Everyone’s different. In my case, I was told I may have to take them for the rest of my life, so I feel an enormous sense of relief now that I made a choice to stop taking them.”

Tighe is now putting the finishing touches to an album and stage production called Record, which will draw on his experiences of the mental health system. It will premiere at the Cork Midsummer Festival on June 25th and will go on to tour nationally. “The material uses my starting point of diagnosis and examines the area of emotional distress and ideologies around psychiatry, and looks towards a new way of conceptualising emotional distress . . . I feel I’ve made huge progress in coming to my own understanding of my experiences, which has been very empowering and enlightening.”

Published on Jan 6, 2015

RESOLUTION is a creative exploration of life from people who have met adversity and challenge with courage and compassion. People who are living from the inside out…

Dylan Tighe: Musician,Theatre-Maker,Writer


Dylan Tighe’s debut album Record, inspired by his personal experiences of emotional distress and of the mental health system, was released in February 2014 to widespread acclaim. The Sunday Times declared Dylan an “exquisite songwriter”,while RTÉ proclaimed the album “starkly brilliant” and “a deeply personal and deeply moving piece of work”. The Irish Times described it as “brimming with tunes” and “an audacious and seriously intelligent suite of songs. Dylan has also worked extensively as an actor and theatre-maker, winning the Irish Times Theatre Award for Best Production in 2010 for his production ‘No Worst There is None’ inspired by the ‘dark sonnets’ of Gerard Manley Hopkins. His stage production Record based on songs from the album at Cork Midsummer Festival and Dublin Theatre Festival was described by the Irish independent as proposing “a new theatrical form for a new way of thinking”.

A radio version for RTÉ, featuring songs from the album and challenging a scientific view of mental health, was nominated for the Prix Europa prize 2014. He has recently contributed a chapter entitled ‘Start Making Sense’ to ‘Madness, Psychiatry, and Performance’, newly published by Palgrave. A new work for radio- ‘Pulse Music/ Ceol Cuisle- about the poet Michael Hartnett and created in collaboration with musician Seán Mac Erlaine, was recently broadcast on RTÉ.


Dylan Tighe – “RECORD: Questioning A Scientific View of Mental Health” Play Features Madness Radio


Dylan Tighe’s new play “RECORD: Questioning A Scientific View of Mental Health” Features Madness Radio!

You can listen to it here and there’s more info about Dylan and the show here 

Theatre-Maker and musician Dylan Tighe uses his own psychiatric history to probe some of the assumptions underpinning a scientific view of mental health. The play proposes artistic expression, and lived experience- as capable of offering insights into the mind (and heart) which science cannot penetrate. This alternative record of mental health centres around Dylan Tighe’s psychiatric records and personal research and includes songs from his debut album RECORD exploring his diagnosis and experience, along with a collage of sonic and musical sources, documentary, dramatic scenes and archive samples relating to the science behind the concept of “mental illness”


Director, Writer, Original Music: Dylan Tighe, Actors: Aoife Duffin, Daniel Reardon, Dylan Tighe, Sound Design: Jimmy Eadie, Sound Supervision: Richie McCullough, Producer: Kevin Brew

Songs are from Dylan’s debut album RECORD, produced by Jimmy Eadie and feature Dylan Tighe (Guitars and vocals) Conor Murray (Drums), Seán Mac Erlaine (Sax and Woodwinds), Donal Mac Erlaine (Saw) and Cian Murphy (Double Bass). Album available at I-tunes, amazon and  Dylan Tighe’s website.

Samples of interviews with David Cohen, Gary Greenberg, John Horgan, Jay Joseph, Robert Whitaker, and the voice of Will Hall, appear courtesy of Will Hall and Madness Radio

Featuring the voices of former Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Bertie Ahern, Antonin Artaud, Dr Pat Bracken, Dr. Peter Breggin, Dr. Andrew Harkin, Prof. Jim Lucey, Pat Kenny, Mary Maddock, John Mc Carthy, Seán Rocks.

Additional music by Mary Maddock. Dramatic scenes were inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s 1966 film ‘Persona’.

Forbes’ Mathew Herper Sucks Up To GSK CEO Andrew Witty…

Quite a nauseatingly sycophantic  article from Mathew Herper from Forbes. No surprise there really, as I have noticed Herper’s style on GSK and Andrew Witty before, and I have to say- I was less than impressed before with Herper, and I am even more than less impressed now. This article would be more accurately described as ‘promotional material’  as opposed to real, authentic, impartial- journalism. There are a number of inconsistencies, inaccuracies and half truths here, of which I will blog about soon.

I am approaching my final blog post soon anyhow, so I will wrap up my thoughts in a final post about the narrative that GSK expect the public to swallow and the real story of GSK which I have followed, documented and blogged about for a number of years now. Personally ,I believe I am way more qualified to tell that story than Forbes. The obsequious, servile and adulatory perspective of Witty’s reign- which Mathew Herper of Forbes chose to display -is clearly nothing more than a glorified  ego wank dressed up as a news article. It’s one lackey back slapping another (you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours kind of thing) and it’s obviously very sloppily strewn together. It seems that Herper probably thought all his Christmases came at once when the almighty Sir Witty chose him to write his farewell piece, and in doing so- Herper couldn’t help but lick Witty’s boots squeaky clean for it. Extremely disappointing from a patient’s perspective, particularly those who have been harmed by GSK meds over the years (of which there have been many thousands).

I have spent ten years blogging about GSK . I was harmed by one of their crappy dangerous meds (Seroxat). I have had direct contact with several whistle-blowers, some of whom Forbes and Herper haven’t even ever mentioned in any of their media. I have spent thousands of hours writing, researching and blogging about GSK. There is stuff on my blog which hasn’t even seen the light of day in the mainstream media and I doubt if Herper has even scratched the surface on the magnitude of GSK’s unethical shenanigans…

I will deconstruct Herpers’s absurd article on Witty’s tenure in a future post soon (It’s going to be a big post).

But for now here’s the ridiculous article from Forbes..

Perhaps some of my readers would care to spot the inconsistencies?

(leave a comment below if you like)

oh and the picture of Witty leaving the open door is just corny…


How GlaxoSmithKline Took Its Medicine

I cover science and medicine, and believe this is biology’s century.

This story appears in the October 4, 2016 issue of Forbes. Subscribe

Sir Andrew Witty, GlaxoSmithKline's Chief Executive

Here’s how Sir Andrew Witty, who is due to end an eight-year tenure as the chief executive of British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline, would like to be remembered: in his shirtsleeves, in sub-Saharan Africa, meeting with impoverished villagers and then persuading first-world politicians of the need for drugs in the developing world. As the chief executive whose company developed a malaria vaccine and was first to test a vaccine for the Ebola virus. As the ethical exec who stopped paying doctors what were essentially bribes to talk up drugs. As the pharma boss who managed to stabilize a drug giant without a big, destructive merger.

“Honestly, I don’t regret a single decision,” says Witty, 52. “Someone smarter than me probably could have done it better. But I think it was the right direction for us to go in.”

History might remember a different Glaxo: the company whose revenues are flat since Witty took over and whose shares have underperformed its peers. The company accused of bribery in a half-dozen countries. The firm that in July 2012 pleaded guilty to civil and criminal charges in the U.S. for marketing in illegal ways drugs like Paxil for depression and Avandia for diabetes, and agreed to pay $3 billion in fines, the largest such settlement ever. After that bruising Witty did something pharma chief executives almost never do. He apologized. “On behalf of GSK, I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learnt from the mistakes that were made,” he said in a prepared statement.

What kind of mistakes? For one, prosecutors alleged that a decade before Witty took command Glaxo paid Drew Pinsky, who parlayed a radio show giving teenagers sex advice into the celebrity persona of “Dr. Drew,” $275,000 for two months to talk about antidepressants and sex. Dr. Drew gave an interview where he segued from talking about a woman who said she had 60 orgasms in a row to saying how Glaxo’s Wellbutrin was better for the libido than other antidepressants. Pinsky didn’t disclose at the time that Glaxo was paying him; no charges were brought against Pinsky. Similar shenanigans occurred with Avandia and Paxil, which was marketed to adolescents even though it wasn’t approved for them.

The maddening problem for pharmaceutical chief executives is that their tenures will be judged on the results of decisions made decades before they took command. Most of the scandals of Witty’s term predated him, but so did many successes: Glaxo’s malaria vaccine has been in the works for 30 years. These immutable links to the past, and to the future, weigh heavily on Witty as he looks to help choose his successor. “To have an industry with a 20-year product life cycle, but only to think one year ahead, is destined for disaster,” Witty says. “Your strategy needs to be consistent with that time frame. That’s what we tried to do.”

Witty has made some big moves of his own that will help determine whether future Glaxo chiefs succeed. In 2014 he made a deal with Novartis that traded GlaxoSmithKline’s marketed cancer drugs for Novartis’ vaccine and consumer businesses and a $16 billion cash payment. Most other big pharma companies are depending heavily on new cancer treatments, which cost $100,000 and up for a course of treatment. Witty thinks the future of such drugs is at risk because society will not continue to pay for them. In the short run that has hurt him, as insurers in the U.S. have been willing to pony up. He has also focused on countries in Asia and Africa whose pharmaceutical markets are just emerging.

Recommended by Forbes

The share price certainly doesn’t reflect a turnaround. But profits are up, and in the second quarter of this year new-product sales doubled to $1.5 billion, 17% of revenue. Glaxo is forecasting earnings growth of at least 11% for the year.

“His predecessor left an awful lot of issues for him to deal with, an awful lot of settlements that they just kicked into the long grass,” says Richard Buxton, the chief executive of Old Mutual Global Investors, the mutual fund. “I think whoever succeeds him will preside over a better set of outcomes for shareholders.”

0902_glaxo-chart_1200GlaxoSmithKline, which is based in London, was formed on Jan. 1, 2001 by the $76 billion merger of Glaxo Wellcome, the maker of Wellbutrin (depression) and Imitrex (migraines), and SmithKline Beecham, which made Avandia (diabetes) and Paxil (depression). Both companies had storied histories that involved breakthrough drugs, including AIDS drugs and antibiotics. But they were having trouble coming up with enough new hits.

Soon after the merger closed, the controversies began. Critics alleged that SmithKline had failed to publish studies that showed Paxil might increase the risk of suicidal thoughts in adolescents, while publishing studies that showed there was no danger. In 2004 New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer sued the company; the suit was eventually settled when Glaxo agreed to publish on the Internet summary results of its future drug studies.

Then came Avandia. In 2007 Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic, published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing that Avandia, GlaxoSmithKline’s blockbuster diabetes drug, caused heart attacks. The FDA eventually said no new patients should start taking the drug, ultimately erasing $3 billion of annual sales.

The response from Witty’s predecessor, J.P. Garnier, was tone-deaf at best. “My wish for the media is to be more sophisticated when they report scientific news,” he said in 2008. He predicted that he would be “vindicated” by the FDA. Later that year, when a BBC interviewer repeatedly asked him about the Paxil controversy, he hung up while on the air.

Witty became chief executive in May 2008. He was a 23-year Glaxo lifer, a marketer who had done stints running part of Glaxo’s African businesses before taking over as president of European operations. His first goal, it seemed, was to rehabilitate Glaxo’s image. A series of profiles in newspapers and magazines presented him as concerned about the developing world. In 2009 the Daily Telegraph called him “the friendly face of big pharma.”

But Witty had problems that couldn’t be solved with good press or a friendly face. Patents on GlaxoSmithKline’s top drugs were expiring, meaning that generic competition was going to eat away at sales. Between 2006 and 2009 medicines such as Lamictal for bipolar disorder, Zofran for nausea, Valtrex for herpes and Flonase for allergies went generic, removing billions of dollars from Glaxo’s top line. With the loss of Avandia it all added up to roughly a quarter of the company’s sales.

One way to replace those sales would have been to invent new drugs. Glaxo spends $4.5 billion a year on research and development. Witty doubled down on a strategy put in place by his predecessors: splitting the company’s 10,000-plus R&D staffers into dozens of largely autonomous units that theoretically could function with the agility of biotechnology companies.

Back in 2010 Witty was excited about three potential hits. One was a vaccine to prevent lung cancer from recurring. It failed in 2014. Another was a new type of drug to prevent heart attacks. That medicine failed, too, in 2014. Even if it had succeeded, medical journals revealed a side effect that might have torpedoed the drug: It made an unpleasant scent emanate from many patients’ bodies. The third was a diabetes medicine, Tanzeum, that did reach the market, but behind rival meds from AstraZeneca and Novo Nordisk.

Despite those failures GlaxoSmithKline has gotten 13 drugs through the FDA during Witty’s tenure, more than any company except Johnson & Johnson, according to the InnoThink Center for Research in Biomedical Innovation. But many didn’t amount to much.

Analysts had expected Benlysta, a lupus drug approved in 2011, to generate as much as $5 billion in sales, and in 2012 GlaxoSmithKline spent $3 billion to buy Human Genome Sciences, which had invented the drug. Yet the market just wasn’t there. Sales in 2015 were $350 million, though they grew at a 33% clip. Cervarix, a vaccine, targeted two strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. Merck’s rival Gardasil targeted four HPV strains, including two strains that cause genital warts. Sales of Cervarix were $135 million, compared with $1.9 billion for Gardasil.

Five of Glaxo’s new drugs were for cancer. In 2014 the company’s cancer-drug sales rose 20% to nearly $2 billion. But Witty struck an offer with Joseph Jimenez, the chief executive of Novartis, to sell these marketed drugs, though he made sure to keep the early-stage cancer medicines Glaxo was developing. In return he got Novartis’ vaccine division, including three promising meningitis vaccines, and created a joint venture in consumer health, which included brands like Sensodyne toothpaste and Theraflu for flu symptoms. Many investors thought he was crazy to get out of cancer. But Witty also negotiated a $16 billion cash payment from Novartis, which he says was more than his internal estimates said the cancer drugs would ever be worth. He still insists that by being willing to be unfashionable he got the better part of the deal.

While Witty was trying to make up for lost sales from patent expirations, he was busy with another task: trying to get past the ethical messes that had gotten GlaxoSmithKline in trouble before he took over.

One problem, he decided, was the way the drug industry traditionally paid sales representatives: It incentivized them to push the ethical and legal envelope. The reps were paid based on whether they could get doctors in their territories to prescribe more of a given drug. These incentives, Witty decided, led representatives to do things like pay doctors to speak when they weren’t experts, give away free trips and meals, and use sales pitches that were not in line with language approved by the Food & Drug Administration. Now the reps, Witty says, are measured on technical knowledge and customer service. He considers this change one of the proudest achievements of his career.

But Glaxo is a huge company with 100,000 employees, and its ethical problems didn’t end just because Witty was trying to fix things. In 2013 the Chinese government announced that it was investigating Glaxo for bribery, saying the company had funneled illegal payments to doctors and government officials in order to boost sales. Witty remembers realizing over a period of days how serious the allegations were. It was “distressing,” he says. “It was so counter to everything we were trying to do.” A year later Glaxo was found guilty of bribery in China and ordered to pay nearly $500 million.

In 2013 Witty announced that Glaxo would no longer offer any payments to physicians for speaking or other services. He denies the decision had anything to do with China. At the time, Glaxo, like other companies, was routinely offering U.S. physicians large sums of money–sometimes in the six figures–to give speeches promoting its drugs. Sometimes the practice bordered on institutionalized bribery, as drug reps paid doctors to give speeches as a reward for prescribing medicine. In other cases drug companies would pick only doctors who liked their products, creating an echo chamber in which it seemed like physicians were unanimous in supporting a particular drug.

Witty claims that getting rid of this tried-and-true practice has caused “a complete transformation” of Glaxo’s marketing. “We’d say, ‘Thursday night would you please come to the Holiday Inn, have a chicken dinner, listen to a doctor talking about something?’ ” Witty says. ” ‘Great.’ What if that Thursday night wasn’t convenient for you? What if you’ve got kids?” Now, he says, digital tools mean that Glaxo can engage physicians with questions on their own terms. “ If you want to talk to us at 3 a.m.,” he says, “we’re there at 3 a.m.”

Witty also embraced the idea that Glaxo should publish all its data. Drug companies typically publish only their most positive studies, making medicines seem safer and more effective than they actually are. One analysis of clinical trials for 12 different antidepressants found that only one of 38 positive studies wasn’t published; of 36 negative studies, 3 were published in a way that was accurate, 22 were not published and 11 were published in a misleading way that made the results appear positive when they were not.

Witty insisted Glaxo make public the results of all 1,700 studies the company had conducted since 2000. This was well above and beyond what Glaxo’s settlement with Eliot Spitzer forced it to do. In 2013 he signed a pledge with a group called AllTrials, which required further promises to make data public, to try to push the rest of the industry to follow. The man behind AllTrials, a U.K. doctor and newspaper columnist named Ben Goldacre, had written a book called Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients and had been skeptical about Witty’s previous attempts at transparency. But the day Glaxo took the pledge he was gushing, blogging that Glaxo’s commitment was “excellent and amazing.”

In 2014 Glaxo started its Ebola trial. The next year it received European approval for Mosquirix, the malaria vaccine it had developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Next, the malaria vaccine will be evaluated by the World Health Organization. Witty, who spent years in malaria-ridden sub-Saharan Africa, says one of the most emotional moments of his career happened when he got initial data that showed the vaccine could cut infection rates by nearly half (a number since revised downward).

It would be nice if Witty’s focus on improving the world were also making Glaxo run on all cylinders. But it’s not that simple, and right now there is one big question facing the company: What will happen as generic competition emerges for its top-selling product, Advair, an inhaler for asthma and COPD?

In 2013 Advair generated more than $4 billion, but sales have already fallen 30% as U.S. insurers have switched to other products and managed to negotiate lower prices. Next year the first generic competitor should emerge in the U.S. As more generics are approved, analysts at Jefferies estimate, sales will fall by 90% by 2020. The better Witty’s successor can do at slowing this decline–perhaps by competing with the generics on price–the less nervous shareholders will be.

Glaxo’s heirs to Advair–new inhalers called Breo Ellipta and Anoro Ellipta–could generate $2 billion in sales by 2020, Jefferies says. But ultimately growth will depend on new drugs. One promising entrant is Tivicay, an HIV drug that competes with Isentress, Merck’s $1.5 billion pill. Jefferies forecasts Tivicay will be at least as big within five years. Another promising product is Shingrix, a shingles vaccine that is more effective than Merck’s Zostavax, which has annual sales of $749 million. Glaxo’s consumer health business, Jefferies forecasts, could increase 25% to $12 billion over the next four and a half years.

Of course, managing all of this will fall not to Witty but to his replacement. Internal candidates include Emma Walmsley, the head of consumer business, and Abbas Hussain, who is in charge of Glaxo’s global pharmaceutical division. The board could want an outsider. Whoever gets the job, Witty seems more than ready to pass the baton.

“Is everything right?” he asks. “No. Did we make mistakes? Yes. Did things go wrong? Yes. But it hasn’t put us off trying to improve. And I hope whoever takes over will continue trying to improve. Because there’s still plenty of things to keep improving.

Ian Hudson of The MHRA (ex-GSK Employee)Bluffs And Blunders His Way Through A Grilling By Andy Vickery At A Paxil Induced Suicide Trial (2000)

I have to say I have been incensed watching a video of Dr Ian Hudson of the MHRA when he was defending (his employer at the time) GSK from allegations that Paxil/Seroxat caused a suicide in the US. Hudson did everything he could to defend Paxil/Seroxat  but in many ways he slipped up. This video was recorded in 2000. At this time I would have been on Seroxat for two years, I had no idea that this trial was even happening, there was no access to the web, or information back then- people like me were left suffering in the dark. Some people didn’t make it through, the side effects were too much, and they killed themselves. Akathsia is one of the most crippling and disturbing side effects of any psychiatric drug. On Seroxat I had weeks, often months of regular bouts of akathisa, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy- it was hell, beyond hell actually, it was utterly devastating. I can understand completely how Akathisia would drive some people to kill themselves, I don’t know how I endured it, maybe my youth had something to do with it- often youth protects us from extreme events because we can endure more- and Seroxat was torture, absolute torture.

At the time that Dr Ian Hudson was defending his employers in a Seroxat suicide trial in the US, and denying that Seroxat was even associated with Akathisia, I was probably  climbing up the walls in my bedroom, rocking like a lunatic, crying and pulling on my scalp, feeling like every atom in my body was on fire, intensely suicidal, feeling like my skin was literally burning and crawling off my bones-  but all the while completely unaware that I was experiencing akathisa from Seroxat.

I didn’t even know what akathsia was.

However, I’m sure that Ian Hudson knew what Akathisa was though..

Ian hudson is now the CEO of the MHRA (the Medicines Regulator in the UK). At the time of his video deposition in this Paxil/Seroxat suicide trial- he was the ‘World-wide safety director’ of GSK (the manufacturer of Seroxat).

Imagine that ‘wordwide safety director’ of one of the most controversial drugs of the past 20 years …

I wonder what Ian Hudson’s view is now of Seroxat?

Does he still think that there is no relationship between Seroxat and Suicide?

Does he still think that there is no evidence of a cause and effect relationship of Akathsia with Seroxat?

If so, then why does GSK warn now of these effects in their PILs?

According to the GSK PIL (screen grab below)- Seroxat can cause Akathsia in around 1 in 1000 people.

Seroxat was prescribed to millions of people since it was first licensed 25 years ago- in 1991. So how many people went on to kill themselves because of Akathsia from Paxil/Seroxat? How many people lost their health? How many people killed themselves in the agonizing withdrawals? Can Hudson give us the new stats on that?

He is, after all, now the chief at the medicines regulator, and although he once defended Seroxat for GSK in court, maybe his new role as a patient protector- as opposed to a drug company lackey- he would be able to re-define his views for us and warn the public about the dangers of Seroxat?

Personally I wouldn’t even trust GSK’s PILs, if they say it’s one in 1000, it’s probably one in 100 or worse… they are proven liars and deceivers, nothing can be trusted from them given their track record. They are totally sociopathic when it comes to harming consumers of their drugs and denying that harm when it is revealed. But even if we take 1 in 1000 as an average estimate, that’s a lot of Akathsia from Seroxat.

But according to Ian- Seroxat doesn’t cause Akathsia, so which is it Ian does Seroxat cause Akathisia or not? The PIL says it does, but you said it didn’t…

Maybe Ian would like to-fulfill his role- and protect others from anymore Seroxat horror?

And maybe Ian would now like to do the right thing and apologize to all the people who killed themselves or felt suicidal, or lost their livelihoods, their relationships, and years of their lives, to Seroxat side effects?…

Or maybe he just doesn’t give a damn…

Either way, the whole thing stinks to high heaven in my opinion..





   Okay.  Dr. Hudson, does Paxil have an
        23  association with akathisia?
        24  A.    I've seen some case reports of
        25  akathisia.  I'm aware that there have been
                            (713) 650-3500

                   IAN R. B. HUDSON, M.R.C.P., M.D.
         1  some cases of akathisia, so it is something
         2  that we have received case reports about.
         3  Q.    Do you believe, as Worldwide Safety
         4  Director of SmithKline Beecham, that Paxil
         5  causes some patients to become akathisic?
         6  A.    I've seen no evidence to suggest a cause
         7  and affect relationship between Paroxetine and
         8  akathisia.  I've seen some case reports, but
         9  I've seen nothing that suggests a cause and
        10  affect relationship

Dr Ian Hudson (Ex GSK Employee and Current Head Of The MHRA- UK Medicines Regulator) Defends Paxil (Seroxat) In US Court Case… Exclusive- From Bob Fiddaman’s Blog…



Monday, September 12, 2016

EXCLUSIVE: Dr Ian Hudson: In Defence of the Suicide Pill

A chance meeting, a discussion, a common interest.

That’s all it needs at times to stumble upon something you’ve been seeking for close to 10 years.

Video depositions have always fascinated me, they are better than the written depositions that we see within court documents. Most notably they show the subject answering questions, they show the subject in a much different light, they show the subject being evasive and choosing not to answer questions that may jeopardise the party he is appearing for. Moreover, they can be seen at later dates, when the subject has moved on to a different company or, in this instance, to head of the British drug regulator, the MHRA.

Ian Hudson is the former World Safety Officer for SmithKline Beecham, today they are more commonly known as GlaxoSmithKline or GSK.

On Friday, December 15, 2000, Ian Hudson, who at the time was still employed by GSK, gave a deposition in relation to a case that was to be tried in Wyoming a year or so after this deposition was taken, the result of which found that Paxil was, in fact, a proximate cause of the deaths in this case.

The case in question was brought against GSK by the relatives of a man, Donald Schell, who killed himself and three others after taking the drug Paxil,

Here is Ian Hudson’s video testimony. It’s a bit scratchy in places and the audio drops but it is the first time this has been seen in public.
Ian Hudson is the current Chief Executive of the MHRA, the British drug regulator who regulate the drugs you and I take.

You can draw your own conclusions as to whether or not you think Ian Hudson is forthright with his answers in this deposition.

A transcript of the video deposition can be found here.

Ian Hudson was being asked questions by US attorney, Andy Vickery.

(GSK are currently defending another Paxil related suicide in the US – The Stewart Dolin files can be seen here)


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