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…?

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