Bleak Britain: Anti-depressant prescriptions soar even though illness declines

How can this be?

I’d say there are two main reasons: In the UK (and most countries) the Government is happy to buy huge amounts of expensive drugs from big pharma and by prescribing them, at least something is being seen to be done – boxes can be ticked, ‘treatment’ targets delivered.

The problem is that there is no money left to employ counsellors – research by five mental health charities found depressed patients were having wait for six to 18 months to get an appointment with an NHS counsellor… and this against a background of previous studies that have shown psychological therapies can be as effective as drugs in tackling mental health problems, and may work better in the long term. In fact, many GPs admit prescribing antidepressant medications to patients because they can’t get access to talking therapies.

And the second reason?

I suggest you find out what big pharma calls ‘marketing’ its product – here – read about rigged drug trials, buried negative data, the invention of new illnesses to treat with exisiting drugs…

This from Jenny Hope of the Daily Mail:

Prescriptions for anti-depressants have soared despite fewer patients being diagnosed with depression, research shows.

It reveals the number of prescriptions issued by GPs for drugs including Prozac and Seroxat has more than doubled over the past 11 years.

And it warns the dramatic rise is largely down to more than two million patients taking antidepressants for years at a time  -  many of them young women.

Young women were more likely to take anti-depressants long term, according to the study (posed by model)

Prescriptions for anti- depressants have soared despite fewer patients being diagnosed with depression, research shows.

It reveals the number of prescriptions issued by GPs for drugs including Prozac and Seroxat has more than doubled over the past 11 years.

And it warns the dramatic rise is largely down to more than two million patients taking antidepressants for years at a time  -  many of them young women.

The study, by Southampton University and published in the British Medical Journal, analysed all new cases of depression between 1993 and 2004 from anonymous computerised general practice records.

The database covers 170 GP surgeries and around 1.7million registered patients.

It found the number of prescriptions issued for antidepressants per patient rose from 2.8 in 1993 to 5.6 in 2004.

Data from the Prescription Pricing Authority also found more than 30million prescriptions for SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), such as Prozac and Seroxat, are issued each year  -  twice as many as the early 1990s.

The study also found 90 per cent of those diagnosed with depression now take SSRIs either continuously or as repeated courses over several years.

Researchers said they feared the rise could result in addiction problems like those affecting users of the anti-anxiety drug Valium 30 years ago.

And they claimed many patients, particularly women, were taking the drugs over a long period rather than to alleviate symptoms in the short-term.

Many subsequently had trouble getting the help they needed to treat their addiction, they added.

Professor Kendrick, who led the study, said: ‘We estimate more than two million people are taking antidepressants long-term, in particular women aged between 18 and 30.

‘Our previous research found although these drugs are said not to be addictive, many patients found it difficult to come off them, due to withdrawal symptoms including anxiety.

‘Many wanted more help from their GP to come off the drugs. We don’t know how many really need them and whether long term use is harmful. This has similarities to the situation with Valium in the past.’

He said the UK was among several western European countries which had seen a substantial rise in antidepressant prescribing in the past 20 years.

‘Lower thresholds for diagnosis or treatment, or changes in illness or behaviour do not seem to be responsible for this rise,’ he said.

‘The rise in antidepressant use is mainly explained by changes in the proportion of patients receiving long-term treatment.’

Previous studies have shown psychological therapies can be as effective as drugs in tackling mental health problems, and may work better in the long term.

NHS guidelines recommend this kind of treatment, including cognitive behavioural therapy, often in preference to drugs.

Research by five mental health charities found depressed patients were having wait for six to 18 months to get an appointment with an NHS counsellor  -  with many being forced to go private.

Many GPs admit prescribing antidepressant medications to patients because they can’t get access to talking therapies.

More on Shane Clancy and Dr Michael Corry

I’ve had a couple of comments about this story that I think are worthy of bringing to the fore:

This first comment is from an interview in the Irish press with Shane’s father, Patrick:

Shane was taking it for about a week when he took the remaining three weeks’ supply in one day, possibly an attempt at suicide. He told his mother what had happened. Two days later, she took her son to another GP. It was explained to the second doctor that Shane had taken a high dosage of Citrol two days previously. The GP prescribed Cipramil, another brand of citalopram.

As this GP was aware Shane had misused antidepressants two days previously, it was instructed on the three-week prescription that the chemist should only supply Shane with one week of the drug at a time, according to his father. But when Shane went to fill the second prescription, the chemist asked him if he wanted to get the three-week prescription filled at once, and Shane said yes. It was Friday 14 August. His family believe Shane took another high dosage of antidepressants the next day. In the early hours of 16 August, Shane Clancy carried out his attack.

“Shane was the type of person who was always careful about taking pills. If he had a Lemsip, he’d phone me to ask if he could take paracetamol as well a few hours later. I don’t know if he was attempting suicide when he took three weeks’ worth of antidepressants in one day. I might never know,” says his father.

“I don’t want to be seen as pointing the finger at the doctors or the chemist but surely if it said to only give him one week’s supply at a time, the chemist should have followed that instruction.”

The whole interview can be read here.

The second comment sheds some light on the complaint made against Dr Michael Corry:

This is absolutely outrageous, but I am not surprised that the (predominantly pharma-funded) psychiatric community in Ireland is baying for Michael Corry’s blood.. He has been a strong critic of both the influence of the industry and the misdeeds of his own profession for quite some time now… It is always the brave ones who go up against the “status quo” whom are first to be attacked..

On the subject of which senior psychiatrist complained about Michael Corry… ?
Read the following article

Professor of Psychiatry charges Dr Michael Corry at Medical Council
A senior psychiatrist, Professor Timothy Dinan of University College, Cork, has laid a complaint against Dr Michael Corry at the Medical Council. The complaint concerns Michael Corry’s statements about the role of SSRI antidepressants in the murder/suicide of Sebastian Creane and Shane Clancy.

Dinan, who is an enthusiastic advocate of SSRIs and SNRIs and has declared his close relations with several drug companies, accuses Dr Corry of “”statements regarding the pharmacology of antidepressants” and of making “statements regarding a diagnosis without ever seeing the patient”.

Dinan has joined in a previous attempt to chill discussion of the effects of antidepressants. Signing himself as Timothy Dinan, MD, PhD, FRCPsych, FRCPI, Professor of Psychiatry, University College Cork, the academic was one of six professors of psychiatry who penned a letter published in the Irish Times on 16 November 2006 demanding the resignation of the then Minister for Mental Health, Tim O’Malley, for two reasons. One, O’Malley had dared to suggest that many everyday difficulties of life were being mis-labeled as ‘clinical depression’. Secondly, he had dared to suggest, with good reason, that the alleged benefits of medications used to treat mental illness cannot be proven scientifically in the way that other medications can. Both suggestions are cardinal sins for those who rule the world of psychiatry, and whose word is law among the students they teach.

WE MUST DEFEND MICHAEL CORRY’S RIGHT TO SPEAK OUT!

To defend Dr Michael Corry we need other health professionals to stand by him.
We appeal to doctors and nurses, especially psychiatric nurses, together with psychotherapists and counsellors, who are concerned at this attack on the right of medical professionals to oppose the monopoly of bio-psychiatry and are willing to stand up and be counted.

Please contact Dr Corry’s defence team: email wellbeing[at]wellbeingfoundation.com
(use the @ symbol instead of [at] )

The most chilling part of Professor Timothy Dinan’s complaint is that Corry made “statements regarding the pharmacology of antidepressants”. If such a complaint is upheld as valid, neither Dr Corry nor any other doctor registered with the Medical Council will ever again be able to ‘make a statement’ on the action of a drug such as Seroxat or Lexapro — or, by extension, of any drug.

Are you willing to allow this to happen?
Send objections to Professor Timothy Dinan’s complaint to:
Mr John Sidebotham
Professional Standards Department Medical Council
Lynn House
Portobello Court
Lower Rathmines Road Dublin 6
Fax: 01 4983103
Email: complaints@mcirl.ie

Timothy Dinan is well known for his pharma-connections in Ireland…. . Need we say more? …
Timothy Dinan puts his name to pro-SSRI literature and advertising, ones such as this “leaflet” for Lundbeck pharmaceuticals (biggest distributers of SSRI meds in Ireland)

Dr Michael Corry needs your support

This story is beyond belief…here it is in brief:

Shane Clancy is a young guy who stabbed 2 people and murdered another, then stabbed himself to death in a frenzied attack recently in Ireland, his parents blame the SSRI he was taking at the time for his behavior and there has been huge media interest in the story in Ireland. Dr Michael Corry said live on TV that it was likely the SSRI that made Shane Clancy go on the violent rampage. Now it seems that an unnamed ‘senior psychiatrist’ has made a ridiculous complaint against Dr Corry:

THE Medical Council in Ireland is investigating a complaint regarding psychiatrist Dr Michael Corry’s “competence to practice” following comments he made to the Sunday Tribune about the role of anti-depressants in a murder-suicide in Bray eight weeks ago.

A senior psychiatrist wrote to the Medical Council accusing Dr Corry of “publicity seeking of an appalling kind”, and the council will now consider the complaint at a scheduled meeting on 15 October.

In the wake of the murder-suicide carried out by Shane Clancy, who was misusing antidepressants, Dr Corry said: “If he was not on medication, he would not have done what he did. I would stake my career on that. His behaviour was out of character. He went from homicidal to suicidal.”

The psychiatrist who complained to the Medical Council said Dr Corry had made comments about a tragedy “without regard for the distress” caused to the families; had “made allegations regarding the competence” of a fellow colleague [by suggesting a colleague treated a patient that rendered him homicidal and suicidal]; “made statements regarding a diagnosis without ever seeing the patient”; made “statements regarding the pharmacology of antidepressants”.

I have a few observations – firstly we need to know who the ‘unnamed psychiatrist’ is, so we can be sure of his motives and uncover any conflicts of interest there may be behind this complaint.

Secondly I have to ask if the ‘unnamed psychiatrist’ has ever taken an SSRI like Seroxat… the idea that an SSRI can make a person extremely violent is not news to the many of us who have had the misfortune to suffer adverse reactions to SSRIs.

Thirdly I wonder if the ‘unnamed psychiatrist’ is aware of the paper published on September 12, 2006, by David Healy, Andrew Herxheimer and David B. Menkes which dealt with SSRIs and Violence?

And lastly what about ALL THESE STORIES...

See Shane Clancy’s mother on television in Ireland here - just click the ‘More’ button and choose ‘The Clancy’s’ video segment.

When, oh when, will the medical establishment admit that SSRIs like Seroxat/Paxil can be very dangerous drugs indeed and cause extreme, violent behaviour in some people?

And why must the few Doctors who speak out like Dr Corry and Prof. Healy have to suffer attacks from the same medical establishment?

Court transcripts hosted here – Glaxo guilty of not warning of the dangers of Seroxat to pregnant women

After analyzing a 2001 e-mail from a Paxil user who aborted her fetus because it had a heart defect, Glaxo officials noted in company files they were “almost certain” the drug was related to the problem, Jane Nieman, a former Glaxo drug-safety executive, told a Pennsylvania jury.

Now that Glaxo has been found guilty and Kilker case has ended, pending an appeal of course,  what of the remaining court documents that have yet to surface?

READ THEM ALL HERE!

Seroxat: no, really it’s safe… all that happened was someone ticked the wrong box on a form, says Glaxo…

Yes – this really was part of Glaxo’s defence: “… In court, senior GSK officers in court said this apparent admission that the drug was responsible for the defects in the aborted baby was a mistake. They told the court somebody must have ticked the wrong box…”

Read the rest of the story from Sarah Bosely at the Guardian:

A jury in the US today found that Seroxat (known as Paxil in the US), the antidepressant made by the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), was responsible for heart defects Lyam Kilker developed in the womb while his mother was taking the medication. Lyam’s family was awarded $2.5 million (£1.6m) in damages.

The following documents, disclosed by GSK, were cited in court by lawyers representing the family of three-year-old Lyam, as evidence to back up their claim that pharmaceutical company GSK knew about the problems with Paxil back in 2001.

This first email is from an unidentified woman (not Lyam Kilker’s mother) to GSK at the end of May 2001.

“I was diagnosed with panic disorder about four-and-a-half years ago. Since that time I’ve been taking Paxil, which is truly a miracle drug. I’ve been panic-free with this drug and have been able to go on with a normal life.

“I was married in October of 2000. My husband and I found out we were pregnant at Christmas time. I was so excited. I love children. The only problem is that I carried the baby to six months gestation and then had to have a termination.

“The doctors diagnosed my son with Truncus arteriosis. They said he would not lead a normal childhood and would most likely not make it through the open heart surgery that he would need as soon as he was delivered (if he was able to make it to that time).

“To say the least, I was absolutely distraught with this news. I thought this was something that I did [...] because I stayed on the Paxil for selfish reasons.

“I wanted to know if you could direct me to any information you might have of any woman that has taken Paxil and still had healthy babies.

“My husband and I are ready to try again to get pregnant in the next monthor two. I am so nervous. I don’t want to stop taking my miracle pill. But, then again, if there is a chance that this might hurt or affect the baby, I want to know upfront. And I will somehow stop taking it for the time being.

“Please contact me as soon as possible. I love everything this drug has done for me. I am so thankful that your company had this available for me. I just want to continue to have a normal life and have the child that I always wanted.

“Please contact me as soon as possible … Please don’t forget about me.”

The woman sent a second email, on 1 June 2001.

“This response is in regards to an e-mail that I had sent you previously. I was asking to see if you have any or are in the process of any clinical trials for women who are currently on Paxil and pregnant. I wanted to find out information to see how many women were on Paxil during pregnancy and if they were able to successfully have healthy babies.

“I am in no way insinuating your product did this to my child. I love the product, and I don’t think I could have gotten through my panic attacks without the wonderful help of this miracle drug.

“I just want to start to try and get pregnant again soon. I do not want to put my unborn child through anything that would hurt him/her.

“Please, if you do not have this information, where is this information held? Does anyone do studies like this? Please, any information you may give me would be great. Thanks again for your help.”

The following GSK internal memo from June 2001 refers to her emails.

“Report 2001014040-1 describes the occurrence of a terminated pregnancy in a female of unknown age prescribed paroxetine (Paxil) for panic disorder.

“This report was received from the patient and has not been confirmed by a physician or other health care professional. Concurrent medications and medical conditions were not known.

“Four-and-a-half years ago, the patient started Paxil (dose unknown). Since taking Paxil, the patient noted she has been panic-free and has been able to go on with a normal life.

“Patient discovered she was pregnant in December 2000 while being treated with Paxil. However, she reported that at six months gestation the pregnancy had to be terminated because the fetus was diagnosed as having Truncus arteriosis.

“Her physician told her that the child would not lead a normal childhood and would most likely not make it through the open heart surgery that he would need as soon as he was delivered, if he was able to make it to that time.”

GSK emailed the following response to the woman on 6 June 2001.

“Thank you for your inquiry. We are attaching a copy of our current product information for Paxil. Please review the section on use during pregnancy.

“Further questions about your treatment should be directed to the physician, pharmacist or healthcare provider who has the most complete information about your medical condition.

“Because patient care is individualised, we encourage patients to direct questions about their medical condition and treatment to their physician.

“We believe that because your physician knows your medical history, he or she is best suited to answer your questions.

“Our drug information department is available to answer any questions your physician or pharmacist may have about our products. Your healthcare professional can call our drug information department …”

But an internal GSK internal document relating to the correspondence, headed “re-investigation of case number A0348482B”, dated 13 June 2001, states: “Relatedness assessment to medication – almost certain.”

In court, senior GSK officers in court said this apparent admission that the drug was responsible for the defects in the aborted baby was a mistake. They told the court somebody must have ticked the wrong box. GSK said it would appeal against today’s jury verdict.

Seroxat (Paxil) to blame for baby’s heart defects, American jury rules

This from Sarah Boseley at the Guardian:

A family has been awarded $2.5m (£1.6m) in damages after a jury in Philadelphia decided that the British-made antidepressant Seroxat was responsible for their three-year-old son’s heart defects.

GlaxoSmithKline, the British manufacturer of Seroxat, known as Paxil in the US, said it would appeal against the verdict. Although drug regulators in the US and UK warned in 2005 that Seroxat could be linked to heart defects, GSK does not accept its drug is the cause.

Thousands of women worldwide have taken antidepressants such as Seroxat in pregnancy, assured by manufacturers and doctors that they are safe. The case is one of a number in the US and the first to end in a verdict against the company.

Michelle David, 24, was prescribed Paxil in the US after panic attacks. Around mid-February 2005, she discovered she was pregnant. According to her lawyer, Sean Tracey of Houston, Texas, her obstetrician gave her the standard advice at the time: that Paxil was safe. David later stopped taking it because of side-effects that might have been attributable to the pregnancy.

Her son, Lyam Kilker, was born in October 2005. A couple of weeks later he stopped feeding and doctors found he had two holes in the heart and a very rare congenital defect called an interrupted aortic arch. “The hospital put in a stent to keep him alive,” said Tracey. “He had acquired an infection – the heart condition made him more susceptible.”

Soon afterwards, Lyam had the first of two open heart operations and spent five months in hospital. He will need more major heart surgery in five to 10 years.

A number of studies have suggested that rates of congenital heart defects are higher among women taking Paxil and other drugs of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class. David Healy, professor of psychiatry in Bangor, Wales, who gave evidence in the Kilker case, said that at 4%, the rate of birth defects was double the normal rate, while the rate of major defects was 2% compared with 1%. The general rate of miscarriages is 8%, but 16% of women on Seroxat miscarry.

GSK denied that its drug was responsible for harm to babies in the womb.

Lawyers for women in the US allege that GSK knew of the problem earlier than it admits. Internal documents produced at the Kilker trial suggest that it was investigating complaints as early as 2001, when a woman emailed GSK to ask whether Paxil could be the reason for her baby developing severe heart defects in the womb. The pregnancy was terminated.

GSK replied with a formal letter telling her to consult her doctor. But an internal report recorded that the link between her baby’s defects and Paxil was “almost certain”. In court, GSK officials said the report was a mistake and that somebody had filled in the form wrongly.

“…In court, GSK officials said the report was a mistake and that somebody had filled in the form wrongly…”

Oh well, that explains it all then, doesn’t it… ?

Download Glaxo confidential settlement agreement

Given the fact that Glaxo is currently on trial in Philadelphia (and will be in the High Court in London next year), I thought this repost might of interest to you.

Drug companies usually favour the out of court settlement – they don’t like the public scrutiny that court cases bring – not to mention the previously secret information that all too often comes to light.

But along with the settlement comes the confidentiality ‘agreement’. The message the drug companies send out is “we pay up – you shut up” – while all the while never admitting any blame (for anything).

Anyway, here’s the repost:

I’m not sure – are Glaxo admitting they’re settling Paxil (Seroxat) cases in the USA?

Well they are – this download – Glaxo settlement agreement – tells its own story, I guess. Pay particular attention to section 3 – Confidentiality of Settlement…

What I find ironic is that Glaxo, being an English company, is prepared to open its cheque book in America, but not in the UK.

So then Glaxo:

Why won’t you settle?

Why won’t you help the thousands of people in the UK who have suffered because of Seroxat?

Haven’t you made enough money from the drug?

Why are we having to slug it out with you in the High Court?

Links to the Philadelphia trial details are here, here and here.

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