Anti-depressants to blame for death, mother says

What always amazes me about stories like this is the contrast with the recent banning of Mephedrone in the UK. If there are potential votes in it and an election is coming up, then the politicians will jump on the bandwagon and make sure a drug is banned in double-quick time… even if there is no evidence that the drug is actually harmful.

However, if a drug comes from a pharma company that has huge financial clout and is able to influence government policy then no action is taken.

Thanks to the Truthman for alerting me to this and I hope I can help Leonie Fennell in some small way to to get some justice for her son.

If you want to read more about this story and the conflicts of interest in the Irish psychiatric community, then the link is here.

THE MOTHER of a Trinity College student who killed one person and then stabbed himself to death has blamed his death on anti-depressants he was taking.

Leonie Fennell said her son Shane Clancy had become increasingly agitated after taking the anti-depressant Citalopram (cipramil), a class of drug known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI).

He was prescribed the drug when he complained to the doctor about being severely depressed. That was just three weeks before he killed himself and Sebastian Creane, the boyfriend of his exgirlfriend Jennifer Hannigan.

Ms Fennell told an inquest into her son’s death that his behaviour while on the drug was “not the Shane we knew”. She said her son, a final-year Arts student in TCD, had been a “well-rounded young man” who was kind to others, but he underwent a seismic shift in May 2009 over the break-up of his relationship with Ms Hannigan and his heart was “broken”.

He received his first course in cipramil at the Carlton Clinic in Bray on July 27th last year. Four days later he rang the clinic to complain that his tongue was swollen and he was very agitated. He left a message with the receptionist but the doctor did not call back.

On August 5th, he took an overdose of the drug in an attempted suicide. On August 7th, the locum doctor in Ashford prescribed him a three-week course in the drug at a lower dosage.

Ms Fennell told a jury at the East Wicklow Coroner’s Court that she was “somewhat surprised” he had been prescribed the drug again. Breaking down in the witness box, Ms Fennell said she wanted to get the message out there that drugs such as Citalopram can be dangerous.

“ . . . Other people have to be informed that this can happen because if it happens to Shane it can happen to anybody,” she said.

Asst State Pathologist Dr Declan Gilsenan said levels of Citalopram found in toxicology reports were 15 times that of the normal therapeutic dose.

The levels were somewhere between “toxic and lethal”, he told the inquest jury.

Dr Gilsenan said he was not an expert in the field but he had heard of international evidence that this drug should not be given to people under the age of 18 and that the drug often inhibited people’s decision-making powers before it started to work.

Irish-born psychiatrist Prof David Healy, the author of Let Them Eat Prozac , told the inquest it was clear from the evidence that Shane Clancy had had a bad reaction to the drug and should not have been prescribed another course.

He said Mr Clancy’s actions were “extraordinarily rare” but it did happen that such drugs contributed to a patient’s problem and made it worse in a small number of cases. Some people could take their own lives or be violent on the drugs, he said.

He explained that the toxicology reports of the level of the drug in Mr Clancy’s system did not necessarily mean he had taken an overdose, as such reports were often inaccurate.

Prof Healy, who works at the Cardiff University school of medicine in Wales, said there was a “low level” of public awareness about the potential impact of these drugs and he was as in favour of compulsory monitoring of patients on them.

The coroner for East Wicklow, Dr Cathal Louth, refused a request by the College of Psychiatry in Ireland to allow it to question Prof Healy’s evidence.

Ciaran Craven BL, for the college, interjected during the inquest saying there were concerns about linking SSRIs to suicidal and homicidal behaviour.

Mr Craven said he was worried that without expert testimony from the college people could be discouraged from taking medication perfectly suited to them.

The jury had to be dismissed while the coroner heard the application but Mr Louth rejected the request and said he was happy with the evidence he had heard.

Afterwards, psychiatrist Prof Patricia Casey said she was disappointed the college was not allowed to give evidence and it would be responding today.

A statement from Lundbeck, the makers of Cirpramil, said there was “no evidence” linking the drug to violence and it actually had the opposite impact.

There was no increase in the risk of suicide and studies had shown no increase in violent behaviour in those who take the drug, Lundbeck said.


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At last – the truth about Seroxat

Well, maybe some of the truth

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the antidepressant drugs paroxetine (Seroxat) and imipramine do not help patients with mild, moderate and even severe depression much more than an inactive placebo.

“They would have done just as well or just about as well with a placebo,” concluded Robert DeRubeis, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia who performed the meta-analysis along with colleagues.

The meta-analysis combined data from six studies with over 800 combined patients. Those with initial depression scores of 23 or below dropped an averaged 8 points when given antidepressants compared to a drop of 7 points for those given a placebo. According to DeRubeis, the study should give pause to doctors and patients weighing antidepressants, and he suggested that consideration be given to other alternatives such as exercise, psychotherapy, and even “self-treatment”.

Paroxetine is one of a widely sold class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and is better known as the brand name sold by GlaxoSmithKline: Paxil. Imipramine is an older tricyclic antidepressant drug which was developed in the 1950s.
Glaxo spokeswoman Sarah Alspach responded by saying that the study “contributes to the extensive research” into antidepressants, noting that Paxil received U.S. government approval in 1992. She continued to maintain that Paxil has helped “millions of people battling mental illness”.

The study is the latest in a long string of bad news that has been reported about Paxil. Since Paxil`s introduction on the market in 1993, the potentially dangerous drug has been plagued with complaints of serious adverse medical events including an increase in suicide rates and attempts, addiction, and birth defects.

In 2005, after Glaxo had denied repeated reports of Paxil causing addiction and severe withdrawal effects, a federal judge ordered the maker to stop all television commercials nationwide that say the drug is not habit-forming. The ruling came after a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 35. According to the judge`s ruling, the commercials were “misleading and created inaccurate expectations about the ease of withdrawal from the drug”. It is reported that Glaxo has settled nearly 3,200 cases involving addiction-related complaints and complications.

Glaxo has also reportedly settled 150 Paxil-related suicide cases and 300 Paxil-related suicide attempts thus far. In most instances, Glaxo attempted to blame the suicides on the underlying depression and not the drug itself. Paxil has also been linked to severe birth-defects in children whose mothers took the antidepressant while pregnant. Last October, a Philadelphia jury found that Glaxo negligently failed to warn doctors of Paxil`s risk to pregnant women and awarded $2.5 million to the parents of a three year old boy. According to reports, this case was the first of some 600 lawsuits against Glaxo for failing to warn of Paxil`s dangers to pregnant women. Reports also indicate that Glaxo has settled at least 10 other birth-defect cases to date.

Paxil lawsuits and settlements have been estimated to cost Glaxo a staggering $1 Billion in settlements thus far, an amount that is nevertheless dwarfed by the many billions of dollars in profits Glaxo has received from Paxil sales.

Meanwhile, despite all the deaths, injuries and lawsuits, Paxil continues to have FDA approval, continues to downplay harmful side effects and continues to be highly promoted, the same as happened in the Vioxx scandal and with other harmful drugs. The Associated Press reported in August of last year that GlaxoSmithKline commissioned sales reps to recruit doctor-authors for ghostwritten articles supporting Paxil use. Glaxo even named the program after everyone`s favorite friendly ghost and called it the “CASPPER” program..

Sources included:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3471275…
www.usatoday.com/news/health/2002-0…
www.usatoday.com/news/…/2002-07-0…
http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/a…
http://www.flainjurylawyerblog.com/…

Seroxat Withdrawal…The Evidence, However, Is Abundantly Clear!

There’s a new post from Bob Fiddaman at Seroxat Sufferers about Seroxat withdrawal and the lies Glaxo continue to peddle about it.

GlaxoSmithKline constantly deny there is a withdrawal problem regarding Seroxat…

In Bob’s post, he quotes Alastair Breckenridge, The MHRA Chairman, who said in 2005:

“If you go back – and I read this out to the Health Select Committee – to the data sheet on Seroxat when it was licensed in 1991, we spelt out word for word the problems of withdrawal from Seroxat, in words that we could not improve now. This idea that the regulators have been hiding the data is just not true. The so-called scandal of Seroxat is something I want to nail every time I speak in front of compatriots because it is absolute rubbish”.

I have to take issue with this statement and Breckenridge’s assertion that the MHRA has nothing to hide. You see, to most patients the data sheet means nothing, because we never see it!

In the UK what the patient gets to see is the Patient Information Leaflet– the PIL –which comes in the box with the drugs. In the PIL of 1990 and 1991 I can tell you there was NO MENTION at all of  “…the problems of withdrawal from Seroxat…”

See for yourself, here is the historic document, a PDF of 1990’s Seroxat PIL – Original Seroxat PIL 1990 – download it have a good read.

Why didn’t the MHRA see fit to include wording in the PIL that would warn patients of “…the problems of withdrawal from Seroxat…”?

Read more here.


Drug regulation – keeping the public safe?

We have a general election coming up very soon in the UK and it’s interesting to watch politicians scramble for votes.

A perfect illustration of this has been the recent fiasco surrounding the government’s decision to ban the legal high mephedrone (not to be confused with methedone, the Heroin substitute). The Government’s decision to rush through a ban on the dance drug mephedrone had been politically motivated in order for the Home Secretary to look tough prior to the election.

At the heart of the dispute over mephedrone lies a disagreement as to the relative harm caused by the drug and by criminalising its tens of thousands of users. Mephedrone has been linked with 25 deaths but there is as yet no post mortem evidence of its role in any of them.

Contrast the mepherdone decision against the complete lack of government action over a drug like, say Seroxat.

Or Vioxx.

Or Zyprexa.

Or Avandia.

Or the complete lack of action when it was discovered that GlaxoSmithKline would not face prosecution for deliberately withholding trial data, which revealed not only that Seroxat was ineffective at treating childhood depression but also that it increased the risk of suicidal behaviour in this patient group.

Seroxat, Vioxx and Zyprexa have been directly responsible for the deaths of many tens of thousands of people. They are clearly dangerous drugs. Yet nothing has been done.

It doesn’t matter whether your government is Labour or Tory, Democrat or Republican – the pharmaceutical companies pull the strings and they control the regulators and legislators.

It seems that big pharma has become so rich and powerful that it can operate outside the law… read the evidence here and here.

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