“..In December 2003, O’Mahony’s husband died from suicide, following a bout of mild depression. After her husband was prescribed the SSRI, Seroxat, O’Mahony claims that his symptoms became progressively worse, culminating in his suicide 13 days later.
“I am not saying that Seroxat caused my husband’s suicide, but I do think that it had a significant role to play in the deterioration of his condition, which eventually ended in his death,” says O’Mahony.
“Which is why I am calling for access to full and impartial information about the potential risks and adverse effects of prescription medication…”
(Irish Times 2005)
“It was a letter from a member of the public, Nuria O’Mahony, which in part prompted last week’s report from an Oireachtas health subcommittee on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in pharmaceuticals.
Convinced that her husband had taken his own life because of side effects from antidepressants, she wanted answers. “….
…” On the broader issues raised in the report, he (Dr John Hillery) says the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and practitioners is “a constant issue for debate within the profession”.
“The first thing I find reassuring is that everywhere I go, doctors are aware of this as an issue . . . people are aware of it and are questioning how to deal with it,” he says. “Secondly, the regulatory body has set out certain guidance and is continually reviewing that.”
(Irish Times 2007)
- Note: Dr John Hillery, is a psychiatrist and a high ranking member of Fianna Fail (the hated government party which brought Ireland into an economic collapse and subsequent economic depression, IMF Bail out, and crippling austerity cuts). Ironic? ..indeed, and definitely creepy- considering there have been hundreds of suicides because of the economic crisis in Ireland also.
- Hillery ran as a candidate for Fianna Fail in an election and he is also the son of a former president of Ireland. I’m sure he was probably cushioned from most of the harsh affects of Ireland’s national economic depression and societal collapse (there’s good money in politics and psychiatry you know!).
“…Some call themselves anti-psychiatry, some are part of the critical psychiatry movement, or promote the theory of “post psychiatry”. Others just know there has to be a better way…”
(Jennifer Haugh Irish Examiner Sept 2015)
“…Less than a third of people with common mental health problems get any treatment at all – a situation the nation would not tolerate if they had cancer, according to the incoming president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.”..
“...Professor Sir Simon Wessely, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said: ‘That antidepressants are helpful in depression, together with psychological treatments, is established. How they do this is not.
‘Most researchers have long since moved on from the old serotonin model…”
(2015)“…With the advent of the chemical imbalance theory, the companies were no longer just providing soothing tonics, they were now providing medications to treat diseases, as exemplified by an early SSRI advertisement stating: “When serotonin is in short supply, you may suffer from depression.” The wording here is all-important. The advertisement takes a correlation between serotonin shortage and psychological stress-and even this is highly questionable and unverifiable in any individual case-and makes a leap of faith to the conclusion that depression is caused by a serotonin imbalance, not that psychological stress impacts the serotonin system. And the marketing did not stop with depression; eventually we were told that whatever our problems might be, whether anxiety, excessive shyness, depression, or the inability to pay attention, the underlying cause was a faulty transmitter level which could be rectified with a pill…”
Up until recently (or at least the past 5 years or so) many psychiatrists, doctors, patient groups, and pharmaceutical companies continually promoted the mantra that mental illnesses (depression in particular) were caused by a mere chemical imbalances in people’s brains. The public (patients, doctors, carers, parents etc) all swallowed this mantra, hook line, and sinker- for decades. Many millions of people, world-wide for the past 30 years at least, have been medicated with anti-depressants solely based on this theory alone. I remember my doctor telling me in 1998, that I had a chemical imbalance and that I would need to take Seroxat (Paxil) for life in order to treat this ‘imbalance’ (luckily I got off it- wasn’t easy but I haven’t taken a pill for depression since so effectively my doctor was wrong).
This fraudulent theory has permeated mental health discourse, and many people were duped into taking medications which they did not need- and many have also been damaged from the meds too.
Who is responsible for this fraud?
GSK, the manufacturer of Seroxat (the drug which was pushed on me) said in their PIL in 2003- that :
“….by mid 2006 GSK was starting to get closer to admitting the truth in its PIL “It is not fully understood how Seroxat and other SSRIs work…”
This (fraudulent) theory was even promoted by so called ‘mental health support groups’ such as Aware ( an Irish group- who from my experiences with them seemed merely just a front for St Patrick’s biological psychiatry agenda) and others in the UK, and elsewhere.
In the 90’s and the 2000’s you couldn’t read anything about depression anywhere, without seeing some kind of reference to the biological basis (or chemical imbalance theory) of depression, and other psychiatric disorders. The ‘chemical imbalance’ bogus lie was told everywhere.
By the mid 2000’s the fact that there was no way to test for low serotonin levels, and that there was no medical test for any psychiatric disorders, began to weave its way into the discourse about mental health (particularly online and as online discourse began to take over). It was around this time (under criticism, and attack from ex-patients and critical psychiatrists and psychologists during the mid 2000’s) that psychiatry began to back track on their promotion of the chemical imbalance theory.
They began to try and appear like they never really promoted it at all, and they now want us to believe that:
Dr John Hillery, director of communications of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland, says Lynch’s charges are “at odds” with what the college believes.
“I don’t believe the chemical imbalance theory is still widely believed in Ireland,” he says. “It’s not something that I would have told patients, I would have told people about the theories… and that there is a lot of evidence to show they [medications] help people. But they are not going to help everyone and should be part of a treatment package that includes talking therapies and other forms of support.”
Hillery says the college does not have an “official position” on the chemical imbalance theory.
Dr Terry Lynch has documented this chemical imbalance fraud in his ground breaking book “Depression Delusion (volume one the myth of the brain chemical imbalance), and there are countless articles and websites online which show how this fraud has been (and still is) perpetuated.
Psychiatry is now in denial mode (or even worse- ‘re-write the historical record mode’). The psychiatric profession is pretending now that it had no real part in this fraud at all, however at the same time, despite back tracking on the chemical imbalance fraud (which it has effectively instilled into psychiatric treatments, and the public mind, for the past few decades) psychiatrists are still trying to push medications as first line treatments for depression.
“Hillery of the College of (Irish) Psychiatrists says the college is pushing the “bio/psycho/social model” and the recovery concept, and teaches trainee psychiatrists to look beyond the medical model. “I would hope people are being told they can recover, and can eventually get off medications… some can get off them, but others will need to remain on them.
“One of biggest frustrations we have is a lack of access to other therapies for people who can’t pay…”
It’s interesting how Dr John Hillery of The College of Irish psychiatry (and most other schools such as the royal UK one) are now claiming that they are telling people that they can recover from mental illness, and that some, at least – can get off the medications. It is also interesting to see people like Hillery say that the theory of a chemical imbalance is not widely believed in Ireland anymore. This is an outstanding reversal of belief, it’s also not true, because the chemical imbalance explanation of depression is still very much widely believed in Ireland (and indeed it is globally too). It is because of psychiatry pushing this theory relentlessly (on behalf of drug companies) that we had such widespread prescribing off the back of it. The theory is a myth, but psychiatry haven’t even begun to tell the truth about the myth.
This is also a stark difference in approach by Irish psychiatry ( or at least it appears that way) compared to 1998 when I was prescribed Seroxat. Furthermore, although psychiatry is now shying away from its responsibility in promoting the chemical imbalance theory (which it endorsed and sold to us for decades), it’s also admitting that there is a severe lack of availability of talk therapy, therefore what use is their new claim that anti-depressants are useful in conjunction with talk therapy?
If there is a severe lack of talk therapy, then people aren’t getting adequate treatment or effective treatment at all are they? and what does depression treatment entail nowadays? It entails drugs without talk therapy, it’s still just drugs, it always has been just drugs in psychiatry, and it continues to be because psychiatry believes in the drugs as first line treatments, so when they say get ‘treatment’ for depression, invariably most people will still end up on chemicals like Seroxat because that’s all psychiatry has to offer (and it intends to keep it that way despite trying to make it appear that there are ‘options’ other than meds).
Biological psychiatrists don’t value (or really believe in) talk therapies as solutions to mental health problems therefore they don’t lobby their respective governments for it. They try and make the public believe that they value them but it’s clear that they don’t. They try to claim there is a lack of funding too, however, if you research psychiatry you will find it’s a very lucrative and wealthy profession, so the lack of funds for talk therapies really doesn’t wash with me. Their ideology is drug based, and it always has been (the pharmaceutical industry owns psychiatry nowadays). Their promotion of the chemical imbalance theory was a fraud which damaged an entire generation of people, they just can’t avoid that fact and they cannot shirk away from the major part they played in it by attempting to pretend it never really happened. How arrogant of psychiatry to think it can erase, delete, and re-write its own history! (not content with fiddling with patients’ personal histories, it now wants to fiddle its own).
Thankfully, which I have already mentioned- Dr Terry Lynch has documented the chemical imbalance fraud in his new book, Depression Delusion, so when the psychiatrists start coming out with more nonsense about not really promoting this fraud in the first place then at least we have a published book which documents it in its entirety.
So the next time a doctor tries to push a drug on you for a chemical imbalance, get Terry’s book, read it, then make your doctor read it, push it on him/her in the same manner that he/she would push a drug on you- and for anyone else interested in these things generally (psychiatry, the pharmaceutical industry, depression etc), it’s well worth checking out- here are some reviews:
Here is a link to the first public announcement of the book http://www.recoveryourmentalhealth.com/my-next-book-depression-delusion-volume-one-the-myth-of-the-brain-chemical-imbalance-publication-date-02-sept-2015/
Here are nine endorsements of the book by prominent figures in mental health internationally:
“Terry Lynch is a courageous voice of scientific and moral truth in a field too long obscured by psychiatric and drug company propaganda. In debunking the myth of ‘biochemical imbalances’, he provides an inestimable service to the health professions and to humanity by liberating them from a dogma that inhibits real psychological and spiritual growth.”
(Dr. Peter R. Breggin, American psychiatrist, author of Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal; Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions, and Toxic Psychiatry; founder of the Center for Empathic Therapy, Education and Living, Ithaca, New York, USA.)
“Terry Lynch has given one of the most pervasive and harmful myths of modern times a thorough debunking. Exposing the truth that there is no scientific grounding to the idea that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance is essential if we are to develop a more constructive response to psychological distress and suffering.”
(Dr. Joanna Moncrieff, psychiatrist, Senior Lecturer at University College, London, England, in the Division of Psychiatry, honorary consultant psychiatrist,author of The Myth of the Chemical Cure).
“This will be a very helpful book. I spend a lot of time talking with patients and their families about the limitations of psychiatric knowledge. I try hard to be transparent about the pros and cons of psychotropic drugs. One of the great myths that many people have bought into is the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression. Now I can happily point them to Terry’s book for a comprehensive account of how that myth was developed and how it is sustained. Thank you!”
(Dr. Pat Bracken, psychiatrist and Clinical Director, West Cork Mental Health Service, Bantry, Co Cork, Ireland).
“In this book the courageous Irish physician Terry Lynch has taken on the fiction of ‘chemical imbalances’. With no scientific evidence for this nonsense whatsoever, the psychiatric establishment, and the drug companies who own them, have been perpetrating an enormous fraud on the public. Doctor Lynch lays bare that this theory has no factual basis at all. I urge everyone concerned about the issue to read this important book.”
(Ted Chabasinski, J.D., USA attorney, psychiatric survivor, anti-psychiatry activist).
“Dr. Terry Lynch in his book Beyond Prozac showed that he wasn’t frightened to throw down the gauntlet and challenge the status quo within mainstream mental health care. In Depression Delusion, Dr. Lynch has surpassed this and thrown himself into the lion’s den with gusto! Many mental health professionals, medical doctors, drug companies, members of the public and the mass media continue to propagate the ‘chemical imbalance’ theory of depression. Through extensive and valid research Terry takes the reader on an epic journey revealing why this myth needs to be eradicated. When this delusion is destroyed we will all need to decide how we view and deal with depression in the future. Terry continues to address these very important questions in detail. If you still hold to the belief that the world is flat, then Depression Delusion will rock your very foundations!”
(Julie Leonovs, MSc in Psychological Research Methods, mental health activist,,Gateshead, United Kingdom).
“It was the delusion that a chemical brain imbalance could cause the problems I experienced for over two decades that actually caused me and my family severe distress. It was meeting and hearing Terry Lynch that helped me to find out the truth. It is the myth of the chemical brain imbalance theory that continues to give deceptive, coercive psychiatry the power to force psychotropic drugs and electroshock on vulnerable people. Terry Lynch’s new book Depression Delusion will hopefully educate many, many others so that finally this myth will be exposed and eliminated. Everyone who wants to know the true facts will want to read this book.”
(Mary Maddock, Cork, Ireland. co-founder MindFreedom Ireland, co-author of Soul Survivor: A Personal Encounter with Psychiatry).
“I am a big fan of Terry’s first book Beyond Prozac, and Depression Delusion does not disappoint. A thorough, forensic examination of Western psychiatry’s (mis)treatment of depression, and how doctors and mental health professionals are all too often misinformed about the facts concerning antidepressant treatment. When Terry describes his work with people suffering from depression, it is clear that what is required instead is compassion, empathy and gaining a real understanding about someone’s story. Terry’s insights into the reasons why we become depressed should form an integral part of all mental health training.”
(Nick Redman, Survivor/Activist, Member of Bristol Hearing Voices Network, United Kingdom).
“It is widely accepted by professionals, the media, ordinary people and psychiatric service users themselves that mental distress is caused by a ‘chemical imbalance in the brain.’ There is no evidence that this is the case. In fact, there never has been any evidence for such a statement. Moreover, senior psychiatrists and drug companies have known they were making false claims for the 50 years or so that this myth has been circulating. How and why did this massive deception occur, and in whose interests does it operate? Terry Lynch’s remarkable detective work traces the horrifying story back to its roots in the drive for drug company profits and the complicity of a profession trying to establish its medical credentials. Meanwhile, millions of psychiatric service users have been told damaging falsehoods which have directly supported an equally unevidenced biomedical model of intervention. Psychiatrists are rapidly backpedalling—but Lynch is not about to let them off the hook. He has written a thorough and principled expose of the ‘chemical imbalance’ rhetoric and its devastating consequences. Read it for essential enlightenment about one of the most damaging myths of our time.”
(Dr. Lucy Johnstone, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Cwm Taf Health Board, South Wales, author of A Straight Talking Introduction to Psychiatric Diagnosis and Users and Abusers of Psychiatry).
“In challenging the very dangerous pseudo-scientific explanations of depression, Dr. Terry Lynch brings his medical background and his scientific integrity to bear on the issue. It was this powerful combination first seen in Beyond Prozac that attracted the interest and support of Dr. William Glasser, the creator of Reality Therapy and Choice Theory psychology, a long-time challenger of the chemical imbalance hypothesis. The Depression Delusion is essential reading for those who experience or deal with depression, one of the most painful of human conditions”.
Brian Lennon, Dublin, Ireland, Founder of William Glasser International, psychologist, guidance counsellor.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) — The body of Bob Farthing was found in the back of his vehicle by family members. His daughter says it was parked at a hotel on the East Beltline.
Farthing, 78, travelled from Flint with his wife on Wednesday. Police say he dropped her off to Spectrum Butterworth to visit a patient and said he was going to a nearby restaurant for some food. He never returned to pick her up.
“He would never, ever have disappeared, he would have never taken off and left my mother like this,” said Denise Shaheen, Farthing’s daughter. She says there is only one explanation for the disappearance.
“He is struggling with the withdrawal from the drug Paxil.”
After using the antidepressant for 15 years, his family says doctors were weaning Farthing off of the powerful drug and putting him on other medicine. But it was a difficult process.
“He would have a couple good days, he would have a couple bad days. His bad days were very bad days,” said Shaheen. “He became very depressed, very confused.”
Wednesday was a bad day for Farthing; he dropped his wife off at Butterworth Hospital around noon so she could visit a relative. But he didn’t come back to pick her up, he didn’t answer his phone or text messages.
Farthing was found by police Friday night in the back seat of his 2005 Buick Lacrosse. His cause of death is not known at this time.
Antidepressant regulations tightened following suicide
A doctor has been found responsible for the suicide of his 20-year-old patient
The health agency, Sundhedsstyrelsen, has decided to make it harder for doctors to prescribe antidepressants to 18-to-24-year-olds after the suicide of a young man, TV2 News reports.
Danilo Terrida, 20, committed suicide in 2011, eleven days after he was prescribed antidepressants following an eight-minute-long conversation with a doctor.
The doctor never followed up on the consultation and has now been found responsible for the suicide by the National Agency for Patients’ Rights and Complaints.
Harder to get ‘happy pills’
From now on, young patients will have to face an assessment and an in-depth conversation with a doctor before antidepressants can be prescribed.
“Along with the Danilo case, there have been other cases that we, as the oversight authority, are not satisfied with. That is why we are now tightening the rules for this vulnerable group,” Sundhedsstyrelsen spokesperson Anne Mette Dons told TV2 News.
Terrida’s family said that they were pleased that the rules had been tightened for prescribing antidepressants.
“It doesn’t change the fact that we have lost our son,” Danilo’s mother, Marianne Terrida, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “The fact that it’s a dangerous drug is not new, it’s been known a long time.”
Researcher: Medication counter-productive
The case has sparked a debate about the dangers of psychiatric drugs, and in Politiken newspaper today Peter Gøtzsche, medical researcher and leader of the Nordic Cochrane Center at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet, wrote that antidepressants have caused healthy people to commit suicide.
“It is true that depression increases the risk of suicide, but antidepressants increase it even more, at least up until the age of 40,” he wrote.
“Doctors cannot cope with the paradox that drugs that can be useful for short-term treatment can be highly dangerous when used for years and even create the illnesses that they were supposed to prevent, or even bring on an even worse illness,” Gøtzsche wrote.
just 16 but within a week of starting seroxat had began self harming.
|October 9 2004, 4:59 PM|
Sarah Thompson says she
self harmed on Seroxat
Sarah Thompson was prescribed Seroxat for depression three years ago. She was just 16 at the time.
She had never had suicidal thoughts before taking the drug, but within a week had began self harming.
She told the programme: “I’d never thought about suicide before I took Seroxat and when I was taking it. I was obsessed about death it was part of my every day life.
“I would cut myself mainly and then I started to burn myself and found other methods, but it was mainly cutting myself to start with.
Three years on, she has strong views about the regulation of the drug: “Looking back at what happened to me because of Seroxat, and the great affect it has had on my life and to my relationships with my family and my future.
“I don’t think that the regulators are doing their job properly, because they allowed me to take a drug that has in effect taken away part of my childhood.”
Eight years ago, I wrote a cover story for the Sunday magazine of the San Francisco Chronicle. It began with the story of a teenage girl I called Angela Reich who became depressed after enduring months of grueling chemotherapy for leukemia. She resisted suggestions that she try antidepressants and saw a therapist for a while but her sadness and despair didn’t lift. So she relented and saw a psychiatrist, who started her on Paxil, an antidepressant made by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
The doctor increased the dose a little at a time, even after Reich told him she was feeling strange in her body and worse than she had before. She became increasingly anxious and jittery, with a relentless discomfort inside her body that caused her to constantly shake her leg. Finally, one morning, she attempted suicide by trying to swallow multiple doses of Ativan, Paxil and other medications she found around her house. Her father broke down the door of the bathroom, interrupting her pill-binge and rushed her to the hospital. His action may have saved her life.
Other teenage Paxil users were not so lucky. Jake Garrison, a 15-year-old who suffered from acne, was prescribed Paxil by his dermatologist for “body dysmorphic disorder,” a condition that leaves people feeling preoccupied with their own perceived physical defects. He took the medicine for a while, then stopped, and then, in September 2002, began taking it again. Three days later, he shot himself to death.
As I looked into the story at the time, several things became clear: GlaxoSmithKline was promoting the drug for use by teenagers even though it had never been cleared by the FDA for anyone under 18. The company also knew—but hadn’t revealed to doctors and patients—that, in some children, Paxil seemed to magnify their distress and increase their risk of thinking about or attempting suicide. GSK also seemed to be manipulating data from its clinical trials to minimize the number of suicides or attempts that might be blamed on its pills—“cooking the books,” in the words of a former Navy lawyer who took on the British pharma giant.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that GlaxoSmithKline had agreed to pay $3 billion in criminal and civil fines for its misdeeds in inappropriately marketing Paxil and another antidepressant, Wellbutrin; for withholding information on the cardiovascular risks of Avandia, a diabetes drug that has been shown to cause heart attacks; and for promoting Advair, an inhaled lung drug, to patients with mild asthma even though it wasn’t approved or appropriate for them. The fine was the largest ever imposed by the U.S. on a pharmaceutical company and settled both civil and criminal charges.
The settlement agreement and the attached documents were full of juicy details that have now been widely reported: How GSK orchestrated the publication of a “misleading,” ghost-written study purporting to show that Paxil helped children when evidence suggested the opposite. How the company paid doctors, including “Dr. Drew” Pinsky, to promote Wellbutrin and how sales reps pitched Wellbutrin to doctors as the “happy, horny, skinny drug,” claiming it was also good for obesity and sexual dysfunction although it was approved only for depression.
As I read through company documents released by government lawyers, I began thinking about some of the victims I’ve interviewed during two decades of reporting on the pharmaceutical industry and its marketing of flawed, sometimes dangerous drugs—people like Angela Reich and the anguished parents of other children who died. I also thought about the statements made by Sir Andrew Witty, Glaxo’s chief executive officer, who expressed “regret,” said the company had learned from “the mistakes that were made” and asserted that under his leadership the company was now “putting patients first, acting transparently…and displaying integrity in everything we do.”
I wanted to talk to some of the people who had been harmed by taking GlaxoSmithKline’s drugs and the lawyers who represented them to see how they felt about the company’s admission of guilt and its $3 billion fine. First, I connected with Angela Reich, who was back in the Bay Area from an eastern school where she is now pursuing a PhD in literature. (She again asked that her name be changed, as it was when I first wrote about her in 2004.)
She recalled her Paxil experience and her subsequent effort to wean herself from the drug as a nightmare, and was outraged that the company failed to warn patients about the dangers.
“I think it’s despicable what they did and I think a $3 billion fine is pathetic,” when the company’s earnings are considered, she told me. “No specific individual executive has been prosecuted or punished or fined; there’s nothing to take away the incentives for huge drug companies to commit fraud. I’m infuriated.”
In fact, Glaxo’s legal and financial liability goes beyond the DOJ settlement. The company has been hit with jury verdicts and settled thousands of cases alleging that Paxil caused suicides, addiction and birth defects in babies whose mothers using the drug during pregnancy. A couple of years ago, my former colleagues at Bloomberg News estimated that Glaxo had paid out about $1 billion to settle Paxil-related cases. That was before a raft of birth-defect cases had been settled or tried.
Michael Baum, a partner at Baum-Hedlund, a Los Angeles firm that handled some of those cases, told me about 1500 had settled and a few remained. Both he and Sean Tracey, the Houston attorney whose firm handled most of the birth-defect cases, declined to estimate the value of the settled cases because they were made secret under the terms of the settlements.
Then there’s Avandia. Baum thinks that GSK’s apology and partial admission of guilt may make it harder and more expensive for the company to settle a number of still-unsettled Avandia cases. He estimated the number at about 1800 and says his office is involved in 180 of them. About 50,000 Avandia cases have been settled.
“Their admissions in the plea agreement and the information (the criminal complaint) puts GSK’s experts and corporate representatives in a corner,” Baum said. “It makes it difficult for them to say they did not hide information from physicians.”
As part of the plea agreement, the company made a commitment: it had to pledge that its executives won’t lie in the future. That requirement, Baum said, “is going to make it difficult for them.”
So will the penalties imposed on GSK really deter nefarious behavior in the future? Baum agreed with his former client, Angela Reich, that while the fine itself is serious money, it doesn’t compare to the revenue the company made from fraudulent marketing. “The public exposure of the conduct may be more of a deterrent than the fines,” Baum said.
Last year, GSK had a net profit of 5.3 billion pounds ($8.2 billion) on revenue of 27.4 billion pounds ($42.6 billion). Paxil, which entered the U.S. market in 1993, had sales of $11.7 billion in the nine years starting in 1997. Avandia came on the market in 1999, reached peak annual sales of $3 billion in 2006, then fell to $1.2 billion in 2009, two years after a study in the New England Journal of Medicine linked Avandia to a 43 percent increased risk of heart attack.
“If pharma companies can flout the law and then simply write a check when they get caught, they’re never going to stop,” said Sean Tracey. “The money is too large. Until and unless someone’s liberty comes to jeopardy, they simply consider this the cost of doing business.”
The full set of documents relating to GSK’s suppression of information on the cardiovascular risks of Avandia has still not come to light and GSK is still working to keep those documents under wraps, Baum said. “They’re fighting us on releasing these documents that show what really happened,” he said. “They should allow the press and the public to see them.”
Tracey, meanwhile, is gearing up for another battle. Two years ago, he won a $2.5 million judgment against GSK for the family of a three-year-old boy, Lyam Kilker, whose mother took Paxil while she was pregnant. He subsequently settled 35 other cases. Now, on behalf of 150 clients, he is preparing to take on Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, an antidepressant that came on the market around the same time as Paxil, and has also been alleged to cause birth defects. Stay tuned.
David Foster Wallace was an award winning author, essayist, novelist and academic- after coming off his medication for depression, he received ECT ‘treatment’, and then went into a spiral which resulted in taking his own life….
His story is all to common…
Psychiatry, and psychiatric drugs, can- and do- kill…
Unbeknown to most, Wallace had suffered from clinical depression for the past two decades. Family and close friends knew of it, but few others did. Over those years, Wallace had taken powerful anti-depression medication that had allowed him to work and write, according to his father, James Donald Wallace. But recently the drugs had been having very serious side effects. In June of 2007, Wallace and his doctor decided that they would have to try another course of treatment.
“Going off the medication was just catastrophic,” his father remembers. “Severe depression came back. They tried all kinds of things. He was hospitalized twice. Over the summer, he had a series of electro-convulsive therapy treatments, which just really left him very shaky and very fragile and unable to sleep.”
Suffering from near-crippling anxiety, Wallace found himself unable to write. “I don’t think he’d been able to write for more than a year,” says his father. Wallace told the human resources department at Pomona College that he would be unable to teach there in the fall, and he was granted a medical leave for the fall semester.
“I knew this summer had been particularly bad,” says Nadell. “My job was just to keep everyone and everything away from him.”
On Aug. 18, Wallace’s parents came to Claremont to stay with their son. Wallace’s wife of four years, Karen Green, had been called away on an urgent family matter, and Wallace did not want to be left alone. He had canceled previous visits with his parents over the past year, telling them that he couldn’t bear to have people in the house, even those he loved, so the invitation came as a welcome surprise to them.
When Mr. and Mrs. Wallace arrived, they found their son exhausted and gaunt. “He was very, very thin,” says his mother. “He weighed about 140 pounds, so I immediately started to try to put 40 or 50 pounds on him, the way mothers will.” She cooked and cleaned. Wallace couldn’t eat, he told his sister later, but he liked the way the house smelled, and how clean everything was.
Mornings were spent walking Wallace’s two dogs, Werner and Bella. Wallace and his parents strolled the streets of Claremont, talking of small things. In the afternoons, they spoke some more, and helped their son deal with the paperwork and insurance issues that had been piling up. “He was very glad we were there,” says his mother. “And he was very emotional. He was just terrified of so much. We would just try to hold him.” The memories bring tears. “He did tell me that he was glad I was his mom.”
The time together, she says, was a gift. “We hadn’t spent that much time with David since he was a small boy. Once they grow up and leave home you see them, of course, and you visit, but you don’t spend hours and hours with them.”
Toward the end of their visit, Wallace and his parents called his sister Amy. “I’m a public defender,” she says, “and I had just lost a trial that I was really upset about. He was really in a lot of pain, but he said all the right big brother things, you know, like how lucky my client was to have me.” She pauses. “That was the last time I spoke with him, and it was his last chance to be a big brother. I think it really made him feel better, at least for a few minutes. I know it made me feel better.”
The respite, though, was brief. “He told me that he wasn’t OK,” she says. “He was trying really hard to be OK, but he wasn’t.”
His wife returned home shortly after, and, on Aug. 30, James and Sally flew back to their home in Urbana, Ill. It was the last time they would see their son. Two weeks later, Wallace hanged himself. He was 46.
This is a great interview which highlights the disgraceful approach of psychiatry when it comes to the treatment of depression. (more on this later).
Here is an excerpt from Conor’s blog-post which has gone viral in Ireland.
The full post is below.
“…In here in my room was a living hell. I was now on about 18 tablets a day and not getting better but worse. I was eating very little but the medication was ballooning my weight to nearly twenty stone. I was sent to see another psychiatrist and another doctor who suggested electric shock therapy which I flatly refused. It was obvious to me I was never going to get better. My desire for death was now much stronger than my desire for living so I made a decision…”
CONOR CUSACK – 29 OCTOBER 2013
I still remember the moment well. It was a wet, cold, grey Friday morning. I rose out of bed having had no sleep the night before. Panic attacks are horrific experiences by day, by night they are even worse.
As I drove to work on my trusted Honda 50, a group of my friends passed in their car heading to college. They all smiled and waved and looked so happy. I smiled and waved and acted happy.
I had loved and excelled in school but it was the same with my hurling, it was the same with my friends, it was the same with my family, it was the same with the people of Cloyne, it was the same with life, I had lost interest in all of them. Losing interest in people was the worst.
Where once I would have felt sadness at seeing my friends heading to where I had always wanted to go, I now didn’t. Something much larger, deeper, darker had taken hold of my mind and sadness, despair, hopelessness were not strong enough to survive alongside what I was feeling.
They say something has to crack to allow the light in. At about 11am that morning, I finally cracked. I couldn’t do it anymore, all my strength at keeping up my pretence had gone. I curled up in the corner of the building and began to cry. One of the lads working with me came over and he didn’t know what to do. I asked him to take me home.
The GP called to my house and prescribed some sleeping pills and arranged for me to be sent to the hospital for some tests.
I spent a week there and they done every test imaginable. Physically, I was in perfect health. I was diagnosed with suffering from ‘Depression’ or in laymans terms, that awful phrase ‘of suffering with his nerves’. I had never heard of the word before.
I was sent to see a psychiatrist in my local day care hospital. I was 19 years of age in a waiting room surrounded by people much older than I was. Surely I am not the only young person suffering from depression, I thought to myself. There was a vacant look in all of their eyes, a hollowness, an emptiness, the feeling of darkness pervaded the room.
The psychiatrist explained that there might be a chemical imbalance in my brain, asked me my symptoms and prescribed a mixture of anti depressants, anxiety and sleeping pills based on what I told him. He explained that it would take time to get the right cocktail of tablets for my type of depression.
I had an uneasy feeling about the whole thing. Something deep inside in me told me this wasn’t the way forward and this wasn’t what I needed. As I walked out a group of people in another room with intellectual disabilities were doing various things. One man had a teaching device in front of him and he was trying to put a square piece into a round hole. It summed up perfectly what I felt had just happened to me.
I now stayed in my room all day, only leaving it to go to the bathroom. I locked the door and it was only opened to allow my mother bring me some food. I didn’t want to speak to anybody. The only time I left the house was on a Thursday morning to visit the psychiatrist. When everbody had left to go to work and school, my Mother would bring me my breakfast.
I cried nearly all the time. Sometimes she would sit there and cry with me, other times talk with me and hold my hand, tell me that she would do anything to help me get better, other times just sit there quietly whilst I ate the food.
Depression is difficult to explain to people. If you have experienced it there is no need, if you haven’t, I don’t think there are words adequate to describe its horror. I have had a lot of injuries playing hurling, snapped cruciates, broken bones in my hands 11 times, had my lips sliced in half and all my upper teeth blown out with a dirty pull but none of them come anywhere near the physical pain and mental torture of depression.
It permeates every part of your being, from your head to your toes. It is never ending, waves and waves of utter despair and hopelessness and fear and darkness flood throughout your whole body. You crave for peace but even sleep doesn’t afford that. It wrecks your dreams and turns your days into a living nightmare. It destroys your personality, your relationship with your family and friends, your work, your sporting life, it affects them all. Your ability to give and receive affection is gone. You tear at your skin and your hair with frustration. You cut yourself to give some form of physical expression to the incredible pain you feel.
You want to grab it and smash it, but you can’t get a hold of it. You go to sleep hoping, praying not to wake up. You rack your brain seeing is there something you done in your life that justifies this suffering. You wonder why God is not answering your pleas for relief and you wonder is he there at all or has he forgotten about you. And through it all remains the darkness. It’s as if someone placed a veil over your soul and never returned to remove it. This endless, black, never ending tunnel of darkness.
I had been five months in my room now. I had watched the summer turn into the autumn and then to Winter through my bedroom window. One of the most difficult things was watching my teammates parade through the town after winning the U21 championship through it. That was the real world out there.
In here in my room was a living hell. I was now on about 18 tablets a day and not getting better but worse. I was eating very little but the medication was ballooning my weight to nearly twenty stone. I was sent to see another psychiatrist and another doctor who suggested electric shock therapy which I flatly refused. It was obvious to me I was never going to get better. My desire for death was now much stronger than my desire for living so I made a decision.
I had been contemplating suicide for a while now and when I finally decided and planned it out, a strange thing happened. A peace that I hadn’t experienced for a long time entered my mind and body. For the first time in years, I could get a good night’s sleep. It was as if my body realized that this pain it was going through was about to end and it went into relax mode. I had the rope hidden in my room. I knew there was a game on a Saturday evening and that my father and the lads would be gone to that.
After my Mother and sister would be gone to Mass, I would drive to the location and hang myself. I didn’t feel any anxiety about it. It would solve everything, I thought. No more pain, both for me and my family. They were suffering as well as I was and I felt with me gone, it would make life easier for them. How wrong I would have been. I have seen the effects and damage suicide has on families. It is far,far greater than anything endured while living and helping a person with depression.
For some reason my Mother never went to Mass. I don’t know why but she didn’t go. It was a decision on her part that saved my life.
The following week, a family that I had worked for when I was younger heard about me being unwell. They rang my Mother and told them that they knew a clinical psychologist working in a private practice that they felt could help me.
I had built up my hopes too many times over the last number of months that a new doctor, a new tablet, a new treatment was going to help and had them dashed when he or it failed to help me. I wasn’t going through it again. My mother pleaded to give him a try and eventually I agreed. It was a decision on my part that would save my life.
After meeting Tony, I instantly knew this was what I had been searching for. It was the complete opposite of what I felt when I was being prescribed tablets and electric shock therapy. We sat opposite each other in a converted cottage at the side of his house with a fire lighting in the corner. He looked at me with his warm eyes and said ‘I hear you haven’t been too well. How are you feeling’. It wasn’t even the question, it was the way he asked it.
I looked at him for about a minute or so and I began to cry. When the tears stopped, I talked and he listened intently. Driving home with my mother that night, I cried again but it wasn’t tears of sadness, it was tears of joy. I knew that evening I was going to better. There was finally a chink of light in the darkness.
Therapy is a challenging experience. It’s not easy baring your soul. When you sit in front of another human being and discuss things you have never discussed with anyone, it can be quite scary. Paulo Coelho says in one of his books that ‘A man is at his strongest when he is willing to be vulnerable’.
Sadly, society conditions men to be the opposite and views vulnerability as a weakness. For therapy to work, a person has to be willing to be vulnerable. Within a week, I was off all medication. For me, medication was never the answer. My path back to health was one of making progress, then slipping and making progress again. It was far from straightforward.
I had to face up to memories I had buried from being bullied quite a lot when I was a young kid. Some of it occurred in primary school, others in secondary. It was raw and emotional re-visiting those times but it had to be done.
A lot of my identity was tied up with hurling and it was an un-healthy relationship. The ironic thing is that as I began to live my life more from the inside out and appreciate and value myself for being me and not needing hurling for my self esteem, I loved the game more than ever. I got myself super fit and my weight down to 13 and a half stone.
I made the Cloyne Senior team and went on to play with the Cork Senior hurling team, making a cameo appearance in the final of 2006. It is still one of the biggest joys of my life playing hurling with Cloyne, despite losing three County finals and an All-Ireland with Cork. Being involved with the Cloyne team was a huge aid in my recovery and my teammates gave me great support during that time.
I went back to serve my time as an electrician. I went to college by night and re-discovered my joy of learning. I work for a great company and have a good life now. I finished therapy in 2004. I have not had a panic attack in that time and have not missed a day’s work because of depression since then.
I came to realise that depression was not my enemy but my friend. I don’t say this lightly. I know the damage it does to people and the lives it has wrecked and is wrecking so I am only talking for myself. How can you say something that nearly killed you was your friend? The best coaches I have ever dealt with are those that tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. You mightn’t like it at the time but after or maybe years later, you know they were right.
I believe depression is a message from a part of your being to tell you something in your life isn’t right and you need to look at it. It forced me to stop and seek within for answers and that is where they are. It encouraged me to look at my inner life and free myself from the things that were preventing me from expressing my full being. The poet David Whyte says ‘the soul would much rather fail at its own life than succeed at someone else’s’.
This is an ongoing process. I am still far from living a fully, authentic life but I am very comfortable now in my own skin. Once or twice a year, especially when I fall into old habits, my ‘friend’ pays me a visit. I don’t push him away or ignore him. I sit with him in a chair in a quiet room and allow him to come. I sit with the feeling. Sometimes I cry, other times I smile at how accurate his message is. He might stay for an hour, he might stay for a day. He gives his message and moves on.
He reminds me to stay true to myself and keep in touch with my real self. A popular quote from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is ‘a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step’. A correct translation of the original Chinese though is ‘a journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet’. Lao Tzu believed that action was something that arose naturally from stillness. When you can sit and be with yourself, it is a wonderful gift and real and authentic action flows from it.
Many, many people are living lives of quiet misery. I get calls from people on the phone and to my house because people in my area will know my story. Sometimes it is for themselves, other times it is asking if I would talk to another person. I’m not a doctor or a therapist and anyone I talk to in distress, I always encourage them to go to both but people find it easier at first to talk to someone who has been in their shoes. It is incredible the amount of people it affects. Depression affects all types of people, young and old, working and not working, wealthy and poor.
For those people who are currently gripped by depression, either experiencing it or are supporting or living with someone with it, I hope my story helps. There is no situation that is without hope, there is no person that can’t overcome their present difficulties. For those that are suffering silently, there is help out there and you are definitely not alone.
Everything you need to succeed is already within you and you have all the answers to your own issues. A good therapist will facilitate that process. My mother always says ‘a man’s courage is his greatest asset’. It is an act of courage and strength, not weakness, to admit you are struggling. It is an act of courage to seek help. It is an act of courage to face up to your problems.
An old saying goes ‘there is a safety in being hidden, but a tragedy never to be found’. You are too precious and important to your family, your friends, your community, to yourself, to stay hidden. In the history of the world and for the rest of time, there will never again be another you. You are a once off, completely unique.
The real you awaits within to be found but to get there requires a journey inwards . A boat is at its safest when it is in the harbour but that’s not what it was built to do. We are the same.
Your journey in will unearth buried truths and unspoken fears. A new strength will emerge to help you to head into the choppy waters of your painful past. Eventually you will discover a place of peace within yourself, a place that encourages you to head out into the world and live your life fully. The world will no longer be a frightening place to live in for you.
The most important thing is to take the first step. Please take it.
Former Cork hurler Conor Cusack, from Cloyne, spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan last night on RTÉ One’s Prime Time. His appearance came after he wrote an article detailing his battle with depression and how he almost tried to take his own life. He posted the article, entitled ‘Depression is a friend, not my enemy‘, on his blog on Monday.
Miriam O’Callaghan: “Conor, you’re very welcome.”
Conor Cusack: “Miriam, thanks very much for having me here. It’s great to be up here. I suppose, look, I’m not here to paint a picture of myself as being an angel. I’ve a lot of friends down in Cloyne and Cork and they’ll tell you, I’m the furthest thing from being an angel that you can find. I’m not here to bash medication, or bash psychiatry. They have their place within the treatment of depression and there’s a lot of people who get a lot of benefit out of it. But I suppose I’m here to tell my story and I think it’s a story that resonates with an awful lot of people in the country. If it can be a bit of help, a bit of comfort, a bit of hope to some few people and if it can perhaps break the taboo and maybe lessen the stigma that’s attached with it? Well then I’m very glad to tell this story.”
O’Callaghan: “Let’s go back, Conor. When did you first experience depression? When did you know you were suffering from depression?”
Cusack: “Well, look, I suppose I was probably around 15 or 16 when I first started experiencing panic attacks and for anyone who’s experienced panic attacks, it’s an horrific experience. You’re convinced your world is ending, pains in your chest, can’t catch your breadth, you’re convinced you’re going to die. And that was the start of my problems, really, you know. Now, it just progressed along, bit by bit. It wasn’t something that was sudden. Gradually, I started to lose interest in my friends, started to lose interest in school that I loved, started to lose interest in hurling and the worst of all, I started to lose interest in people. I always loved people and loved being in their company but it was a gradual, bit-by-bit thing. And I suppose, I was in work one morning, in [inaudible] down in Midleton, and finally, the image that I had been keeping up along, I didn’t have the strength any more, to keep up that image. And finally I cracked. And, you know sometimes they say that something has to crack for the light to allow in, well that morning I cracked. And I lay down in the corner inside in the building, started balling my eyes out. One of my fellow workers came over, poor man didn’t know what to do, he was looking foolish with me and I said ‘look will you just take me home’. GP came and prescribed a few relaxing tablets and stuff. Went to hospital the following week, had a battery of tests done, had every test imaginable and at the end of it all, a doctor came to my bed at the end of it, and said ‘look, we think you’re suffering from depression’. It was the first time that I’d heard the word and that was the first time that I would have realised that I had something like that wrong with me.”
O’Callaghan: “And, for anyone who hasn’t read the blog, I mean you basically retreated to your bedroom, didn’t you? I mean it was so bad, you almost stayed in your bedroom a lot and hardly ever came out?”
Cusack: “Lived in my bedroom, Miriam, lived in my bedroom. For five months, the metre-by-metre window in front of me, that was my link to the outside world, you know? And there was probably 10mm of glass separating me from there but I was a million miles away from that. That was the real world out there. This was a living hell in here for me. I saw the summer pass, I saw the autumn pass, I saw the winter pass through that window. There was only one person, well two people, my mother and my aunt Marie that I’d allow in to that room, just to bring me food. And, on the Thursday morning, when I’d used to go to see the psychiatrist, that was the only time I’d leave the house. I didn’t want to speak to anyone, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. That room was my sanctuary away from the world. But, in reality, it was a living hell.”
O’Callaghan: “You came to your lowest moment, didn’t you? Tell the story about the day your mother didn’t go to mass.”
Cusack: “Well, I suppose, previous to that, I’d been to a lot of different doctors and psychiatrists and I was on 18 tablets a day at this stage, you know, and I wasn’t getting better. I was sent to another psychiatrist in a place in Cork City, it’s called St. Anne’s and St. Anne’s would probably have, it would be a place that would be associated with a lot of people with mental difficulties. And I went in to see the doctor and the first thing he said to me was ‘oh, your brother is the famous Cork goalkeeper’. And he proceeded to talk for the next ten minutes about hurling. I had zero interest in hurling at that time and my esteem and whatever was on the floor at that stage and here was this guy and he talking to me about hurling and not talking to me about me. And at the end of it all, he suggested this electric shock therapy to me. And intrinsically I don’t know why but something inside of me always told me that medication and something like that was not the path that I needed to follow. And I remember coming out of the hospital and I was utterly distraught. Because this was like my final hope, that I thought that this was the guy that was going to finally help me. And, instead, he was suggesting something that was alien to me. And I…”
O’Callaghan: “Though it could work for other people..”
Cusack: “It could work, exactly, yeah, absolutely..”
O’Callaghan: “But keep going.”
Cusack: “Absolutely, as I say, this is my story, you know, and everyone has their own. But..So I came home and I remember I was utterly distraught and, you know, I decided one night I couldn’t…the desire for death outweighed my desire for living. And I decided I was going to kill myself. And an incredible thing happened. A peace that I hadn’t experienced in years came over my body. It was like as if my body realised no longer is it going to have to suffer this horrific physical and mental pain that I had been going through for the last number of years, no longer was I going to have to suffer these panic attacks, waking up, soaked in sweat every night. And I got a night’s sleep that I hadn’t had in years. And I was very calm about it. There was no anxiety. I knew my dad and my brothers, Victor and Dónal Óg, would be going to a match that Saturday evening and I knew my mam and my sister would be going to mass. And so I had the rope in my room, I was quite calm about it, very matter of fact, I was going to get into my car, drive to my location that I had arranged and hang myself. And for some reason, I don’t know why, but my mother never went to mass. And, ultimately, it was the decision on her part that saved my life.”
O’Callaghan: “It’s amazing, actually.”
O’Callaghan: “But after that, you transformed yourself. You got better. Your story is a happy story at the end, Conor. Explain that path to recovery for you. How that came about?”
Cusack: “Well, look, I worked for Darina Allen since I was eight years of age, I worked there for eight or nine years in her gardens and in her kitchen and, you know, Darina is an incredible woman, she never forgets anybody who’s ever worked for her. Still to this day she’ll send in if there’s something happened to the family, a death or something, a table full of food would come into the house. And my aunt Marie has worked with Darina for years. And Darina asked one day ‘How’s Conor doing? Is he in school or what is he doing?’ And my aunt told her, you know, that I was in a bad way. So Darina suggested a person that she knew, that she felt could have been of benefit to me. And, now I’d been to loads of, loads of doctors at this stage. I’d given up all hope. But my mother pleaded with me, just to go one more time. And, that was the decision on my part, that ultimately saved my life. I went to see this clinical psychologist and from the moment I met him, I don’t know what it was but from the moment I met him I knew ‘This was it. I’m going to get better with this person. He is the man that I’ve been seeking all along’. And it was an incredible thing. I remember coming home with my mother, driving home, with my mother in the car that evening, and I was crying but it was tears of joy, it was absolute tears of joy because I knew this was the thing that I’d been waiting for all along. And it was an incredible moment in my life. And it was the moment that transformed the whole lot for me, you know?”
O’Callaghan: “And you’re well now. And I know the reason, you said to me earlier, you wrote the blog and what you want mostly to say tonight is to give hope to other people, don’t you Conor?”
Cusack: “Absolutely, Miriam. Look there’s people at the moment out there that are going through depression or anxiety and they’re getting treatment and I just want to say to them, I want to encourage them to stay on the path. It’s not an easy, it’s not an easy journey, it’s very difficult and I salute their courage for doing that. And the rewards at the end of it are great. There’s another group of people out there that are living with and helping, supporting friends and loved-ones that are ill with depression or anxiety, or whatever, I know the powerlessness that they feel, looking at their loved-ones and that it’s not like a cut in your leg that you can fix or anything. It’s a difficult place for them. But the person themselves might not say it but, inside in them, they very much appreciate your support and your comfort. I remember mother saying to me one time: ‘I will patiently wait til eternity and beyond for my son to get better’, so keep giving your love and support.
To those people out there that are living a life of silent misery, and are afraid to take that step, you’re not alone, there’s a load of people in your same situation. You know, there’s a certain comfort and safety in remaining hidden but it’s a terrible tragedy if you can’t be found. And, you know, there’s an incredible amount of help and support out there for those people. It’s an act of courage and strength, not weakness, to admit that you’re struggling. It’s an act of courage to say that I need help but you need to take the first step, you need to take the first step, and I plead with those people to please take that first step. And, finally, to those people out there tonight, Miriam, that are perhaps contemplating suicide. I know the terrible torture and pain that you’re going through, I know the horrific thing that your day-to-day living and existence is, I know that you think that this world and your family and friends and community will be a better place without you in it. But I guarantee you it won’t, it’s not. The destruction and the pain that’s left in families with someone that’s committed suicide is incredible and the distress they’re going through now is nothing compared to what it would be, without you in the world. As human beings, you know, we’re a once-off phenomenon in this universe. Of all the billions of people that have ever lived or all the billions of people that are going to come after us, there’ll never again be another Miriam O’Callaghan, there’ll never again be another Conor Cusack. We’re totally unique and the world needs us, the world needs all the people that we have in our communities. So, you know, I promise those people that are in that terrible place, there’s a place within them, it’s a place of peace, it’s a place of joy, it’s a place of love, it’s a place of hope and it’s waiting for them to rediscover it. It’s waiting for them to rediscover it. And it’s within their grasp, it’s within their grasp. They’ve all the skills and all the abilities to be able to get there. And the thing about it Miriam is these people, they’ll emerge stronger people. They’ll emerge people that are living their life from the inside out, independent of other people’s opinions, they’re living their life fully and freely. They’re gonna not be frightened of this world any more, they’re going to be embraced by it. They’re going to look at challenges and difficulties and take them all on. And somewhere along the way, I’ll get to meet those souls, souls on the road less travelled, and I’ll look forward to that. Embrace the journey, start the journey.”
O’Callaghan: “Conor, thank you so much for coming in tonight.”
By FIONA MACRAE
Last updated at 00:02 07 March 2008Suicide: Jamie Hoole, who died aged 18 after taking Seroxat
Drug company bosses concealed information about the dangers of the anti-depressant Seroxat for five years while it was still being prescribed to children – yet they will escape prosecution over the cover-up.
Documents released yesterday as part of a four-year criminal investigation into GlaxoSmithKline show that the pharmaceutical giant had evidence that the drug didn’t work in children as early as 1998.
There were also suggestions the firm was aware of possible links to attempted suicides and suicidal thoughts.
But Glaxo did not alert Britain’s drugs’ watchdog to the problem until 2003, when the suicide link had become clear. The move led to an almost immediate ban on their use in under-18s.
Since it was first prescribed in Britain in 1990, the tablet, which makes GSK £1billion a year, has been associated with at least 50 suicides – both adult and child – in the UK alone.
Yesterday, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency hit out at Glaxo for withholding the information, and ministers promised to tighten the law.
But the watchdog came under fire itself over the failure to bring criminal proceedings against the firm for the cover up.
Ministers and officials insisted a prosecution was not realistically possible under the law as it stood at the time.
MHRA chief executive Professor Kent Woods said: “I remain concerned that GSK could and should have reported this information earlier than they did.
“All companies have a responsibility to patients and should report any adverse data signals to us as soon as they receive them.”
He said that although the law on disclosure of clinical data had been tightened in recent years, it would now be strengthened again.
In a letter to Glaxo, Professor Woods said: “Such a course of action should be unnecessary in an industry which relies so heavily on public trust and aspires to high ethical standards.
“I would have thought it self-evident that such information should be made available promptly to the regulator in order that action can be taken to public health.”
He added that Glaxo would not be prosecuted, as there was no realistic chance of a conviction under the legislation in place at the time.
However, the criticism may boost the case of British patients privately suing Glaxo after reacting badly when they tried to come off Seroxat.
Charles Medawar, of pharmaceutical watchdog Social Audit, said not just Glaxo but also the MHRA had “a great deal to apologise for”.
He said: “They say the decision not to prosecute was decided by the inadequacy of the law.
“My reaction is that before launching a million-pound investigation it might have been a good suggestion to check what the law actually says.”
Accusing the MHRA of a ‘naive and absurd’ level of trust in drug companies, he said: “The deviousness companies employ when promoting their drugs and minimising their side-effects is really quite extraordinary.”
Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said the Government would take “immediate steps” to strengthen the law, making it clear that drugs firms must disclose any information they had which could have a bearing on public health.
Glaxo denied it had withheld data, saying it “firmly believed” it had acted “properly and responsibly” and safety of its medicines was “paramount”.
It said there were no child suicides in any of the safety drug trials it carried out and it was only when the data from all nine trials was analysed together that any link with suicide emerged.
A spokesman added that Seroxat has never been licensed for use in under-18s in the UK and labelling stated that it was not recommended for children.
However, Seroxat, which is also known as paroxetine, was taken by an estimated 50,000 British children and teenagers before being banned for use in youngsters in 2003. Doctors are allowed to prescribe unlicensed drugs.
Prescribed to children as young as six, it was hailed by doctors as a “wonder drug”, capable of helping people overcome shyness.
However, it gradually became clear that the drug, which alters levels of mood-regulating chemicals in the brain, was not all it seemed.
As children taking it began to commit suicide, parents described how their sons and daughters suffered mood swings, nightmares and personality changes.
‘It was like giving him a loaded gun’
Jamie Hoole was just 18 when he was prescribed Seroxat for depression. Two months later, he killed himself.
His mother Jean Bambrough is convinced he would still be alive had it not been for Seroxat.
Miss Bambrough, 47, said: ‘It was like prescribing him a loaded gun.
“Jamie was depressed but I strongly believe he wouldn’t have done what he did if it wasn’t for Seroxat.”
The talented pianist and artist was given Seroxat after he lost his self-confidence and started to withdraw from everyday life. Initially, his depression seemed to lift.
Miss Bambrough, a personal assistant who split from Jamie’s father 20 years ago, said: “For the first few days, he was smiling and looked happy.
“But that didn’t last long. He became very agitated and couldn’t sleep. He was having really awful dreams.
“He couldn’t keep still and rocked backwards and forwards. He thought he was going mad.”
Jamie, a builder, then turned to self-harming, cutting his arms, legs and stomach with a knife.
Not long afterwards, his brother Daniel, then 13, came home from school to find him hanging from a belt in a bedroom of the family home in Northwood, North-West London.
An inquest into his death concluded it may have been “wholly or in part” linked to his use of the drug.
After the inquest in 2003 Miss Bambrough said: “All data on drugs should be made public before they are used on anyone – adults or children.”
Another Seroxat patient, Laura Davey, now in her 20s, was put on Seroxat because she was suffering from depression.
But instead of making her better the drug led to her self-harming.
She said: “As soon as I was put on Seroxat I started cutting myself every day. I was sitting in my bedroom with a compasses or a knife and I would slit my wrist so there would be blood.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-527837/Seroxat-makers-escape-prosecution-despite-failing-reveal-link-teenage-suicides-FOUR-years.html#ixzz2eVAC4AIl
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Don’t believe corrupt psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies when they tell you bullshit about the safety of SSRI antidepressants! ..
Listen to Dr David Healy- he knows what he’s talking about and he’s not afraid to say it either…
Psychiatrists like nothing better than to diagnose us all with bogus and ambiguous illnesses and diseases that they cannot prove scientifically, while at the same time vehemently defending their claims of psychiatry being a valid medical science…
That’s quite ironic don’t you think?
If I decided to invent an ‘illness’ based on my own ideology, but couldn’t prove it existed, people would call me mad…
I wonder if we were to diagnose a psychiatrist what would we come up with?…
Yet, it is these sinister and scary psychiatrists that hold the paradigm of mental health in their hands… I think that the ideology of psychiatry is the definition of sick and mad….
Their arrogance and audacity is beyond belief…
But, I must admit, I do find solace when I do a search on ‘Youtube’ with the keyword of ‘psychiatry’ and every single video (including the number one word search) brings up a massive amount of anti-psychiatry and critical psychiatric exposes and documentaries…
At least future generations can educate themselves about this sociopathic regime…
and as the years go by, and the internet becomes the primary source of where people find their information, it will get harder and harder for psychiatry to fool the masses..