Andrew Witty admits defeat on “expensive, high risk” depression drugs

This story has been around for a few weeks now, but it’s made me think about things this morning.

It seems that Glaxo has decided that it will cease discovery work in depression, a pivotal part of its historical neuroscience activity, in an effort to save £500m a year in costs by 2012. This marks a symbolic shift for GSK, which as recently as 2006 generated more than £2bn from sales of its antidepressants Wellbutrin and Seroxat or Paxil, a drug that has sparked criticism from regulators and a series of litigations against the company.

And there’s more – Andrew Witty said “…it was increasingly difficult to make a decent return on depression research.”

A “decent return”, eh?

Witty also claimed that the closure of depression R&D did not have anything to do with past litigation problems, saying that antidepressants were “among the most expensive, high-risk” drugs with weak “endpoints” that made it difficult to measure likely success until late in the development process.

“high risk drugs”, eh?

What I don’t understand is why Glaxo didn’t stop research into depression years and years ago… after all they ‘cured’ depression with their  miracle drug Seroxat/Paxil. They knew how the drug worked on our brains – it was the ‘chemical cure’ that was proven to save us all from depression (and much more) and all without any nasty side effects unlike the old anti depressants it replaced.

So job done, Glaxo. End of story – just keep selling Seroxat/Paxil to the world and depression will be no more. Why bother with more research?

Or maybe Seroxat didn’t actually work any better than a sugar pill… maybe the ‘chemical cure’ was a lie… maybe Glaxo had no idea how Seroxat was supposed to work… maybe the side effects are much, much worse than Glaxo admitted… maybe Glaxo faked drug trial results and hid the negative data

Or maybe Seroxat was a huge, expensive mistake for Glaxo – GlaxoSmithKline has paid out almost $1 billion to settle lawsuits related to its antidepressant Paxil, according to court records and sources familiar with the litigation. That total includes about $390 million for suicides or suicide attempts allegedly linked to the drug. Some $200 million has gone to settle cases related to Paxil addiction and birth defects and another $400 million to settle antitrust, fraud and design claims.

I’ve asked before and I’ll ask again – come on Andrew Witty – give me an hour with you – one blunt Yorkshireman to another.

Let’s talk Seroxat secrets.


2 Responses to “Andrew Witty admits defeat on “expensive, high risk” depression drugs”

  1. El Es Jardine Says:

    I ask this question in all seriousness–after god (even tho’ I’m an atheist) knows how many attempts to stop drinking–why IS there no pill that works for that? Is there really a conspiracy against? I no anti-addiction studies are underfunded and choosing such as a specialty is a bad career move, but might there be a conspiracy? After all, the print advertising budget for booze in US alone is billions of dollars more than any one of 50 state’s total anti-drug education, treatment and rehabilitation programs. It can’t just be social attitudes. There’s just too much money in pushing drugs, legal and illegal, and booze.

  2. My Struggle with Depression — MK Anderson Says:

    […] Andrew Witty admits defeat on "expensive, high risk" depression drugs ( […]

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