Alastair Benbow – yet more questions

Matthew Holford has been at it again (does the man ever stop?)… see below for his latest note to those MHRA stalwarts Stephen Fawbert, Jan MacDonald and Sarah Walk:

Dear Stephen, Jan and Sarah,

Further to my recent enquiries, concerning PILs and the EWG Report, are you able to add in one further item, please? That is, are you able to confirm the date upon which the risk of suicide was first acknowledged/approved by GSK/MHRA on the Seroxat PIL?

I am interested in this point, because I note from Stephen’s previous replies that a UK exercise in 2000 identified the issue, and that GPs were advised accordingly, shortly thereafter. However, GSK, in the person of Dr Alistair Benbow, an officer of the Company, was publicly arguing the absence of any risk, at least as recently as 2003. If my anticipation is correct, I would be interested to hear of the MHRA’s position on this peddling of misinformation, whether it be innocent, or not.

As a general point, what would be the MHRA’s position on the status of an officer of a company, who deliberately misled the public, as to the nature of a serious adverse event of one of its drugs? Does it, for example, possess any sanctions, which might be applied, or would this be left as a matter for the company concerned? To what extent does the MHRA imagine that the solutions it has at its disposal are adequate to deal with such a scenario (ie, would it be able to prevent such a thing happening again, if only with respect to the company/officer concerned)?

Best regards

Matthew Holford

Yet more questions that we need answers to. Watch this space.


Top posts for April

Here are the links to my most read posts for the month of April – it’s a chance to see what everyone else has been reading this past month:

What will be the long term effects of ta    
The Paxil Protest time machine    
Seroxat comic    
National Depression Week 2005 and the la    
Committee on the Safety of Medicines Exp    
Big Pharma Spin and Child Suicide Rates    
Seroxat comic – 3    
Dr June Raine at the MHRA was warned abo    
Michael Moore describes Eli Lilly’s “cri    
Another day, another list…    
A “personal view” of Panorama – 2004    
What a tangled web we weave…    
Top Posts for 30 days ending Saturday 14    
What next after SSRIs?    
Buying our silence    
Seroxat comic – 2 (repost)    
Dr Peter Breggin on The Real “Mental Hea    
The MHRA, criminal investigations and Gl    
The chemistry of happiness (part 1)    
Panorama interactive forums – watch here    
Huge Glaxo pay out…    
Ghostwriters in the Sky    
The MHRA invites your comments!    
1998 – Shy? Try taking a pill…    
Latest from the MHRA to Charles Medawar    
Another take on the latest Glaxo payout    
Antidepressants and Violence: Problems a    
Alastair Benbow caught out…    
Well, the MHRA did invite comments…!    
Michael Moore on the Columbine school sh    
My previous six posts    
‘Sicko’ Selected for Cannes Film Festiva    
Glaxo confidential settlement agreement    
The House of Commons, Glaxo & the MH    
“Vile pills that could pull the trigger    
Was Glaxo’s David Wheadon guilty of perj    
Alastair Benbow – GMC complaint    
Seroxat and birth defects    
More on ‘independent’ patient groups…2    
Zprexa Documents Borne by Winds of Free    
The MHRA & Serotonin    
Drs. Keller, Ryan & study 329…    
More on ‘independent’ patient groups    
See you in the High Court, Glaxo! – 2    
Ghostwriters in the Sky – 3    
You can’t turn off the internet….    
Dr. Lee S. Cohen, stand up and take a bo    
Ghostwriters in the Sky – 2    
We need to keep an eye on Glaxo with thi    
Thinking Blogger Award    

Another take on the latest Glaxo payout

Another take on the preliminary ruling that indicates GlaxoSmithKline should pay out $63.8 million to make amends for making misleading claims about its antidepressant Paxil (Seroxat) in kids.

CL Pysch writes:
“I wonder if the authors who stamped their names on the the main ghostwritten “scientific” publication for Paxil in kids should also be shelling out some cash. After all, it was the paper (chock full of HUGE misinterpretations of the study data) with their names on it that was doubtlessly used as part of the Paxil in kids marketing campaign. Were these “independent” academics innocent parties who were misled by the corporate meanies at GSK? Or, conversely, were these academics an integral part of the marketing team and should they also be held accountable for making false claims?

What counts as safe and effective on Planet Paxil passes as ineffective and dangerous to us Earthlings. So while I’m glad to see that it appears GSK will be shelling out some dough to compensate its , consumers, the systemic problems of ghosted science and outright lying are not addressed. What is $64 million to GSK? Roughly a drop in the bucket. And the “key opinion leaders” who pimped Paxil escape unscathed.”

Good point – the key opinion leaders – like the Doctors behind Study 329 have got away with it. Read some more about what they did here and here.

There’s a fine article here at Health Care Renewal about the subject of ghostwriting and what might be done to stop it.

Huge Glaxo pay out…

Latest news from Bloomberg in America:

GlaxoSmithKline Plc., the world’s second-largest drugmaker, should pay $63.8 million to settle claims it provided misleading information about giving the company’s Paxil antidepressant to minors, a state judge ruled.

In a preliminary ruling, Judge Ralph Mendelsohn in Edwardsville, Illinois, gave initial approval to a revised settlement of a class-action lawsuit against London-based Glaxo that he had originally approved last October.

That’s a HUGE payout… but once again it wasn’t Glaxo’s fault:

“The settlement was agreed upon to resolve the pending litigation and avoid further expenses,” Glaxo spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said. “There was no liability admission.”

No of course there was no liability on Glaxo’s part, Mary-Anne. I quite understand.

However, might I ask if the people that take Glaxo’s money will have to sign a confidentiality agreement of any sort before they are paid out?

Anyone see a pattern forming here ?

Alastair Benbow caught out…

My previous post took you to the Panorama interactive forums… thanks to Truthman30 for this comment that set me thinking:

Check out the end of this program…
It is worth watching purely for Alastair Benbow’s final words which end the discussion in the closing minutes..

When asked by (pharmacology expert) Dr Andrew Herxheimer about why GSK had given no warning about the severe reactions from Seroxat despite knowing about it for 5 years…

Benbow replies… (and stumbles with)

“Seroxat has provided countless benefit to many people and enabled them to do more, live longer and feel better… and I think that speaks for itself…”

And my point is…?

Well, what annoys me greatly is that, when asked a direct question about the safety of Seroxat, Benbow’s answer was to ignore the question completely and attempt a reply using Glaxo’s corporate strapline (and he couldn’t even get that right!)

Search this phrase in Google “do more feel better and live longer” and you get 17,200,000 results… the VERY TOP one being…

“ is the corporate web site of GlaxoSmithKline, a leading healthcare company that helps people to do more, feel better and live longer.”

Glib, dismissive, superficial – yes ‘Dr’ Benbow, that’s what your reply was.

I’m reminded of a comment made by Professor Healy on the last Panorama programme ‘Secrets of the Drug Trials’.

He was talking about drug trials and scientific papers and said that so many were ghostwritten and drew conclusions that were at odds with the data that they couldn’t be considered scientific at all – they were nothing more than adverts for whichever drug company was footing the bill.

So when Benbow starts to use Glaxo’s corporate strapline to deflect a direct question about the safety of Seroxat, you have to wonder what other rubbish he came out with during the course of this discussion.

He wasn’t there to enter into a serious debate about the pros and cons of Seroxat – he was there as part of the sales and marketing department – part of a corporate damage limitation exercise.

Panorama interactive forums – watch here

I’ve just been prompted by an email from a friend to post up these links to three Panorama interactive web forums that took place after broadcasts of the Seroxat programmes.

They’re worth watching to see our good friend Alastair Benbow in full flow defending Seroxat as only he can… you also get to see Charles Medawar, David Healy and Andrew Herxheimer.

14 October 2002

11 May 2003

11 July 2003

Seroxat comic – 3

Well now, will you look at what just turned up – a new Seroxat comic called “Buying Our Silence”.

Quite apt really, given what’s going on in the High Court in London… I wonder what the media would make of this case if it ever did come to court. Just imagine all the damaging detail that would come out – I doubt Glaxo would ever sell another drug again. Panorama is one thing, the High Court is quite another


The two links here will take to the first Seroxat comic and the second one

…and this link will take you to a previous post Buying Our Silence, which I might humbly suggest was part of the inspiration for this latest Seroxat comic?

Click on the pages to see a full size image and then download and distribute as you like – but remember, I’m sure it’s all meant as just a little bit of fun…?

Another day, another list…

Not scientific, I know – but is anyone listening out there? The authorities should be taking this seriously.

In 1988, 31-year-old Laurie Dann, who had been taking Anafranil and Lithium, walked into a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Ill., and began shooting. One child was killed and six wounded.

Later that same year, 19-year-old James Wilson went on a shooting rampage at the Greenwood, S.C., Elementary School and killed two 8-year-old girls and wounded seven others. He’d been on Xanax, Valium and five other drugs.

Kip Kinkel, a 15-year-old of Springfield, Ore., in 1998 murdered his parents and proceeded to his high school where he went on a rampage killing two students and wounding 22 others. Kinkel had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.

Patrick Purdy, 25, in 1989 opened fire on a school yard filled with children in Stockton, Calif. Five kids were killed and 30 wounded. He been treated with Thorazine and Amitriptyline.

Steve Lieth of Chelsea, Mich., in 1993 walked into a school meeting and shot and killed the school superintendent, wounding two others, while on Prozac.

10-year-old Tommy Becton in 1996 grabbed his 3-year-old niece as a shield and aimed a shotgun at a sheriff’s deputy who accompanied a truant officer to his Florida home. He’d been put on Prozac.

Michael Carneal, 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in Heath High in West Paducah, Ky. Three died and one was paralyzed. Carneal reportedly was on Ritalin.

In 1998, 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 14-year-old Mitchell Johnson apparently faked a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., and shot at students as they left the building. Four students and a teacher were killed. The boys were believed to be on Ritalin.

In 1999, Shawn Cooper, 15, of Notus, Idaho, took a shotgun to school and injured one student. He had been taking Ritalin.

April 20, 1999, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 24 others. Harris had been taking Luvox.

Todd Smith walked into as high school in Taber, Alberta, Canada in 1999 with a shotgun and killed one and injured a second student. He has been given a drug after a five-minute phone consultation with a psychiatrist.

Steven Abrams drove his car into a preschool playground in 1999 in Costa Mesa., Calif., killing two. He was on probation with a requirement to take Lithium.

In 2000, T.J. Solomon, 15, opened fire at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga., while on a mix of antidepressants. Six were wounded.

The same year Seth Trickey of Gibson, Okla., 13, was on a variety of prescriptions when he opened fire on his middle-school class, injuring five.

Elizabeth Bush, 14, was on Prozac. She shot and wounded another student at Bishop Neumann High in Williamsport, Pa.
Jason Hoffman, 18, in 2001 was on Effexor and Celexa, both antidepressants, when he wounded two teachers at California’s Granite Hills High School.

In Wahluke, Wash., Cory Baadsgaard, 16, took a rifle to his high schooland held 23 classmates hostage in 2001. He has been taking Paxil and Effexor.

In Tokyo in 2001, Mamoru Takuma, 37, went into a second-grade classroom and started stabbing students. He killed eight. He had taken 10 times his normal dosage of an antidepressant.

Duane Morrison, 53, shot and killed a girl at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado in 2006. Antidepressants later were found in his vehicle.

In 2005, 16-year-old Native American Jeff Weise on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac when he shot and killed nine people and wounding five before committing suicide.

Another case involving a school-age youth – although not at a school – happened in 1986, when 14-year-old Rod Mathews of Canton, Mass., beat a classmate to death with a baseball bat while on Ritalin.

And just a few among the dozens of incidents cited, but not apparently related to schools:

William Cruse in 1987 was charged with killing six people in Palm Bay, Fla., after taking psychiatric drugs for “several years.”

The same year, Bartley James Dobben killed his two young sons by throwing them into a 1,300-degree foundry ladle. He been on a “regimen” of psychiatric drugs.

Joseph T. WesBecker, 47, just a month after he began taking Prozac, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., killing nine. Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, later settled a lawsuit brought by survivors.

In 1991, 61-year-old Barbara Mortenson, on Prozac for two weeks, “cannibalized her 87-year-old mother …”

In 1992, Lynnwood Drake III, shot and killed six in San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Prozac and Valium were found in his system.

Sixteen-year-old Victor Brancaccio attacked and killed an 81-year-old woman, covered her corpse with red spray-paint. He was two months into a Zoloft regimen.

While on four medications including Prozac, Dr. Debora Green in 1995 set her Prairie Village, Mo., home on fire, killing her children, ages 6 and 13.

Kurt Danysh, 18, shot and killed his father in 1996, 17 days after his first dose of Prozac. “I didn’t realize I did it until after it was done. … This might sound weird, but it felt like I had no control of what I was doing, like I was left there just holding a gun.”

In 1998, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, was ordered to pay $6.4 million to surviving family members after Donald Schell, 60, just 48 hours after taking Paxil, flew into a rage and killed his wife, daughter and granddaughter.

“Vile pills that could pull the trigger at a British school, too.”

Thanks to Ruth for alerting me to this.

It’s rare that I find myself agreeing with what’s been written in the Daly mail or the Mail on Sunday, but there’s always a first time I guess. The columnist Peter Hitchens wrote this piece yesterday:

“…True, guns make it easier for a deranged person to kill a lot of people.

But in countries with strict laws, illegal guns tend to be easily available to bad or unhinged people.

Also take note of this: the Virginia Tech killer is reported to have been on ‘prescription medication’ for ‘depression’.

So was Jeff Weise, the culprit of the Red Lake shootings in Minnesota in May 2005.

So were the authors of several other such incidents, including Eric Harris, one of the murderers in the notorious Columbine shootings of April 1999, and 15-year-old Kip Kinkel, who slaughtered his parents and two schoolmates in Oregon in 1998.

These are the ones we know about. I suspect that these half understood drugs may have been involved in a lot more such incidents.

There are some suggestions that pills given to young people accused of having the fictitious ‘disease’ ADHD may also have been involved.

If this is so, then it will not be long before the same horrible events start happening with much greater frequency in British schools and campuses, where the same drugs are increasingly prescribed, where the same liquid manure is pumped into young minds by TV and computer screens, and where illegal weapons are, daily, easier to obtain.”

‘Sicko’ Selected for Cannes Film Festival – official

This just in:

We at have just received word that Michael’s new film, “Sicko,” has been selected to be part of the main program of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This is Michael’s third film in a row to be an “Official Selection” at the Cannes Film Festival (“Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11” were the other two). Three years ago “Fahrenheit 9/11” won the top prize at Cannes, the Palme d’Or. “Fahrenheit” went on to become the largest grossing Palme d’Or winner in history. In 2002, “Bowling for Columbine” won the 55th Anniversary Prize.

This year’s festival will take place from May 16-27. “Sicko” will play out of competition, per Michael’s request. It will be the first time the film will be seen by the public. “Sicko” is scheduled to be in theaters this summer.

“I’m honored to be asked again to come to Cannes,” Michael said. “It’s been a good luck charm for us and the perfect place to present our work to the rest of the world. I’m hoping that this film will have the impact I think it will have.”

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Cannes Film Festival. On May 20, Michael will join all the living Palme d’Or winners on the stage in celebration of the festival.

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