OK – this one’s been been rolling around in my head for a while now. It’s a bit like my Buying our Silence post – I questioned the basic logic of why patients should have to shut up just because they take money offered by Glaxo for harm caused to them by a drug made by Glaxo. Why? Where’s the connect?
But anyway – I want to look at the big picture today – the very big picture.
I’ve never said anywhere on this site that I think Seroxat should be banned. I do think it should be very much more tightly controlled though. I also think that it might help some people – but then of course in clinicial trials so does a placebo sugar pill and so does a herb, St John’s Wort. The fact that Glaxo today admits it does not know exactly how Seroxat ‘works’ must cast even more doubt over its efficacy.
I think I read the other day that Seroxat (in its many guises) has been taken by over 100 million people worldwide [Glaxo – please supply up to date figures]. Glaxo tell us that they currently estimate 3 in 10 patients will suffer from withdrawal problems when they try and stop taking Seroxat. 3 in 10 – that’s not a lot is it?
Not a lot if Glaxo had only sold the drug to 10 people!
But what this actually means is that because Seroxat has been so aggressively marketed, to so many people, to make so much money for Glaxo… what this actually means, is that Seroxat harms 30 million people in some way (a conservative figure in my opinion but I’ll work with it for now).
Now, let’s say that 10% of these people (a conservative estimate once again) suffer terribly during withdrawal and may well be left with permanent damage… that leaves us with a figure of 3 million people who have been seriously harmed by a Glaxo drug…
That’s one hell of a lot of people – you might think in this scenario Glaxo would be pulling out all the stops to help those three million souls. Perhaps some support, some financial help, some validation…
Nope. What Glaxo simply says is “See you in court.”
However, it also said in 2002 “We feel strongly that we have an obligation to speak up both for the millions of patients that Seroxat allows to lead a normal life, and for our employees whose commitment to this important medicine has made such a positive difference to so many people.”
Fine words, fine PR.
But what about the 3 million (plus?) people who were seriously harmed by Seroxat?
And what about the families of Seroxat users who commited suicide because they reacted badly to the drug?
Where’s Glaxo’s obligation to speak up for them?