Wikipedia, Seroxat Secrets and ‘Paul Gene’ –

I’m aware that many people visit this blog following links from various Wikipedia articles. How much longer this will go on I have no idea as I’ve been alerted by a reader to the fact that some edits have been made that remove all mention of Seroxat Secrets and various other websites…

“Mewstarget.com [sic] website, seroxat secrets website, Paxil protest website, Hugh James solicitors website are not acceptable sources according to the Wikipedia guidelines, and I am deleting them.”

So wrote someone called Paul Gene.

And he has deleted entries like this:

The lawsuit stemmed from a [[Consumer protection|consumer advocate]] protest against Paroxetine manufacturer GSK. Since the FDA approved paroxetine in 1992, approximately 5,000 U.S. citizens – and thousands more worldwide – have sued GSK. Most of these people feel they were not sufficiently warned in advance of the drug’s side effects and addictive properties.

According to the Paxil Protest website, hundreds more lawsuits have been filed against GSK. Newstarget September 06, 2005 The Paxil Protest website was launched August 8, 2005 to offer both information about the protest and information on Paxil previously unavailable to the public. Just three weeks after its launch, the site received more than a quarter of a million hits.

The original Paxil Protest website is no longer available. It is understood that the action to remove the site from the internet was undertaken as part of a confidentiality agreement or ‘gagging order’ which the owner of the site entered into as part of a settlement of his action against GlaxoSmithKline. (However, in March 2007, the website Seroxat Secrets discovered that an archive of Paxil Protest site was still available on the internet via Archive.org) Gagging orders are common in such cases and can extend to documents that defendants wish to remain hidden from the public. However in some cases, such documents can become public at a later date, such as those made public by Peter Breggin in February of 2006. A press release from Dr. Breggin can be seen here:

In January 2007, according to the Seroxat Secrets website, the national group litigation in the United Kingdom, on behalf of several hundred people who allege withdrawal reactions through their use of the drug Seroxat, against GlaxoSmithKline plc, moved a step closer to the High Court in London, with the confirmation that Public Funding had been reinstated following a decision by the Public Interest Appeal Panel. The issue at the heart of this particular action claims Seroxat is a defective drug in that it has a propensity to cause a withdrawal reaction. Hugh James Solicitors confirm this news on their website.

Paul Gene also deleted this entry about Robbie Willams – saying that the article cited in the Sun did not mention Seroxat:

On the 12th Of February 2007 singer Robbie Williams checked himself into rehab to kick his addiction to Seroxat.

The article is here – please visit it and you’ll see part of the article reads “The singer finds it impossible to get to sleep until 4 or 5am due to insomnia and is on sleeping pills. He is hooked on the powerful and controversial anti-depressant Seroxat, which has been linked to suicidal tendencies in teenagers.”

So then, I wonder what Paul Gene’s motivation is… I wonder who he works for?

9 Responses to “Wikipedia, Seroxat Secrets and ‘Paul Gene’ –”

  1. experimental chimp Says:

    The thing about Wikipedia is that its main criterion for including information is verifiability. In order for something to be verifiable, it has to have been published in a venue that has editorial oversight. Wikipedia’s policies specifically exclude blogs as reliable sources, except in specific circumstances. You can read these policies here.

    What this means is that, for Wikipedia’s purposes, your blog is not a valid source. The user in question, Paul Gene, discussed the changes on the article’s Talk page first. The Robbie Williams thing looks like a genuine mistake – so I’ve added that bit back in.

  2. truthman30 Says:

    This wikipedia stuff has been going on for a while, one pharma has been caught editing info about one of their drugs….

    All a little suspect if you ask me…

  3. truthman30 Says:

    http://groups.google.com/group/sci.med.cardiology/browse_thread/thread/41a5ffbad887f8fa/bebcd500dc408f00

    August 30, 2007
    Abbott caught altering entries to Wikipedia
    Several drug companies have now been caught deleting important information
    from Wikipedia, in order to downplay the risk of their drugs.

    The first drug company caught messing with the Wikipedia was AstraZeneca.
    References to claims that Seroquel allegedly made teenagers “more likely
    to think about harming or killing themselves” were deleted by a user of a
    computer registered to the drug company, according to Times.

    According to Patients not Patents, now it is Abbott Laboratories who’ve
    been caught doing the same thing. The group alleges that “employees of
    Abbott Laboratories have been altering entries to Wikipedia, the popular
    online encyclopedia, to eliminate information questioning the safety of
    its top-selling drugs.”

    The tool used to catch these corporate erasers is the WikiScanner, which
    was developed by Virgil Griffith, a researcher at the California Institute
    of Technology, and it reveals changes to the online encyclopaedia by
    linking edits back to the computers from which they were done, using each
    computer’s unique IP address. The scanner has wreaked havoc in news media,
    politics and among corporations caught redhanded “improving” articles.

    Patients not Patents found that in July of 2007, a computer at Abbott
    Laboratories’ Chicago office was used to delete a reference to a Mayo
    Clinic study that revealed that patients taking the arthritis drug Humira
    faced triple the risk of developing certain kinds of cancers and twice the
    risk of developing serious infections. The study was published in the
    Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006.

    The same computer was used to remove articles describing public interest
    groups’ attempt to have Abbott’s weight-loss drug Meridia banned after the
    drug was found to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in some
    patients.

    The site’s editors restored the deleted information, but Patients not
    Patents claim that Abbott’s activities illustrate drug companies’
    eagerness to suppress safety concerns.

    Jeffrey Light, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy
    group said, “The argument that drug companies can be trusted to provide
    adequate safety information on their own products has been used by the
    pharmaceutical industry to fight against government regulation of consumer
    advertising. Clearly such trust is misplaced. As Abbott’s actions have
    demonstrated, drug companies will attempt to hide unfavorable safety
    information when they think nobody is watching.”

    – Peter Rost, M.D. is a former VP of Pfizer and the author of Killer Drug
    and The Whistleblower.

  4. truthman30 Says:

    Maybe we can get wikipedia ro restore the original content..
    they seemsd to have done that when requested by other public groups…
    It was obviouly someone working for the interests of GSK…
    Why else would someone do that?…

  5. admin Says:

    Chimp – my question still stands – who’s Paul Gene working for?

    OK Seroxat Secrets is a blog – but what about Hugh James and Newstarget?

  6. experimental chimp Says:

    Truthman: Yes, drug companies have edited their own Wikipedia articles. As it happens, I researched and broke the story about AstraZeneca’s edits on my blog.

    Admin: I don’t know if Paul Gene is working for someone. I don’t see any particular evidence that he is, based on the edits he’s made. He’s done significant work on the Aspirin article, for example. I don’t imagine GSK (or any other pharmaceutical companies) are particularly concerned about that particular drug’s listing on Wikipedia. This suggests to me that his involvement with Wikipedia is personal rather than professional. I could be wrong. From what I’ve seen, edits by Pharmaceutical companies are usually quite blatant.

    To answer your other question: The Newstarget site appears to be run by one man, which means it lacks editorial oversight and hence doesn’t qualify as a reliable source. Hugh James Solicitors is a primary source, rather than a third party source (ie. the information published on the site hasn’t been fact-checked by a reliable third party). Given that the information on in question is purely a statement of activity, I think this is a somewhat harsh interpretation of Wikipedia’s policies, but it’s not unreasonable, particularly when the article is as contested as the Seroxat one.

    I’ve found a couple of third party sources for the Hugh James information, too, so I’ll see if I can edit this back into the page. (Anyone can make edits, so this is something that anyone could do, by the way.)

  7. BOB FIDDAMAN Says:

    Surely it is up to the readers of Wikepedia to make their own minds up?

    I actually find blogs more reliable than the so called ‘official’ websites.

    Fid

  8. BOB FIDDAMAN Says:

    Paul Gene and Paroxetine:

    Here is what he edited on Wikipedia

    01:02, 3 September 2007 (hist) (diff) Paroxetine‎ (→Controversy – a lot of irrelevant information about the settlement; made it shorter)
    00:52, 3 September 2007 (hist) (diff) Paroxetine‎ (→Controversy – rm robbue williams reference: if you read the Sun’s article it does not mention seroxat at all)
    13:18, 2 September 2007 (hist) (diff) Paroxetine‎ (→Controversy – Added fact tag to the poorly sourced statements)
    13:12, 2 September 2007 (hist) (diff) Paroxetine‎ (→Controversy – Removed information based on the unacceptable sources, see: Talk)
    13:10, 2 September 2007 (hist) (diff) Talk:Paroxetine‎ (Unacceptable sources to be deleted)

    That’s just Paroxetine! Check out what else he has edited – http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Contributions&limit=100&target=Paul+gene

    If he was such an expert on SSRi’s why are there no papers from him? Infact, Google his name and all that appears are his references on Wikipedia. Another Pharma whore?
    Fid

  9. truthman30 Says:

    I dount very much is Paul Gene is his/her actual name…
    He could be hired .. so that the corporations IP wont be traced….


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