December 22 2013
The Herald reports that the family of a mother who took her life by jumping from the Erskine Bridge in January 2011 is preparing to launch a civil action for medical negligence. Claire Donald, 37, left a husband and two young daughters.
Claire was a graduate from Glasgow University who had worked as a software engineer in the banking sector. She had her second child in October 2010 and suffered post-natal depression, as she had after the birth of her first daughter. She became suicidal after going to her GP, who prescribed antidepressants.
In November 2010, Claire went to throw herself in the canal at Falkirk near where she lived. She saw her husband Graeme, who was looking for her, so she decided to head for railway lines to throw herself in front of a train, but got caught up in barbed wire. She handed herself into the police, who admitted her a psychiatric unit where she was kept in for three nights.
After only one night at home, Claire drove to the Erskine Bridge (left). A young soldier spotted that she was about to jump, and had to punch her to the ground to prevent her from taking him with her.
Claire was sectioned, and was admitted to the Mother and Baby Unit (MBU) at St John’s Hospital in Livingston. Eventually she seemed to be progressing and began to be allowed day passes, going back in at night. She was allowed to stay out over Christmas and New Year. But in January, whilst at home, her suicidal thoughts returned. A health visitor who saw Claire at home told her husband to phone the MBU. A nurse from the unit talked to Claire on the phone and told her she could “up her dose” of antidepressants.
There was no further contact with the unit, and three days later Claire went back to the Erskine Bridge where she took her life.
A statement from NHS Lothian said: “An initial full independent investigation into the care Mrs Donald received was carried out in late 2011 and found that the treatment did not significantly fall below the standard of acceptable care. It suggested some areas for improvement and we implemented these as part of an immediate action plan.”
December 16 2013
A few days ago, in an article entitled “A Week of Inquests”, I wrote about a number of inquests that had taken place the previous week. One of those was that of Emily Barrington, whose inquest was incomplete at the time of writing, but has since reached a verdict.
Emily was a healthy, outgoing girl who was enjoying university life in Nottingham, when “she had a panic attack, was very tearful, expressed negative views about herself and looked thinner than normal and very anxious.” This was after being prescribed an unnamed contraceptive to treat polycystic ovary syndrome.
Emily’s mother Susie found that the contraceptive was linked to depression and suicide. She suggested that Emily report her adverse reaction to the University Health Service, where the doctor’s bizarre solution was to prescribe beta-blockers and antidepressants, drugs also linked with suicidal thoughts. Emily took an overdose of her medication.
A report in the Nottingham Post that has been published since my article was written states: “Concern had been raised at the inquest by Emily’s family that the contraception she was originally taking and the antidepressant caused her suicidal intention.” Recording a narrative verdict, assistant coroner Dr Liz Didcock said that she had “carefully considered this and could not find any reliable evidence to substantiate the ‘hypothesis’.”
I don’t know what constitutes “reliable evidence” in a coroner’s court, but if evidence is needed, perhaps somebody could send Dr Didcock a link to this site.
December 15 2013
Nobody works harder to promote awareness of the dangers of psychiatric medication than this wonderful, vibrant lady from Wicklow. Her informative and entertaining website is overflowing with humanity.
Another tragic suicide. Another pile of ‘happy pills’
There was something rather startling about reports of the sad death of Kate Barry, a distinguished photographer found dead outside her Paris home, apparently by her own hand.
The French police chose to stress that they found ‘antidepressant’ tablets in her flat.
Have the gendarmes, unlike our own authorities, finally begun to put two and two together about the connection between these dubious pills and suicide?
The evidence at so many inquests shows that those who have taken their own lives did so after swallowing antidepressants, or suddenly ceasing to take them.
In many cases, their behaviour and state of mind changed completely after they were prescribed, and their families found the suicides inexplicable.
Nor is it any use to say: ‘They were depressed; therefore they were more likely to commit suicide.’
Many of these drugs are associated with suicidal feelings as a recognised side-effect.
In some countries they must carry warnings saying so. I do not know if there is a connection, but I think it is time there was an independent inquiry.
The drug companies themselves are so rich that only the State can regulate them.
Parliament’s Health Select Committee should begin an urgent, deep investigation.
December 13 2013
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Pfizer’s appeal against a $142 million award for the illegal marketing of Neurontin. Theruling paves the way for a class-action suit seeking damages on behalf of insurers, union funds and employers who paid for ineffective dosages of Neurontin.
Neurontin is also known by the generic name of Gabapentin. It was originally developed to treat epilepsy, but was also marketed by Pfizer for the relief of bipolar disorders, neuropathic pain and migraines. Pfizer was found to have suppressed or misrepresented clinical studies which showed that the drug was ineffective for those treatments. Internal Pfizer documents showed that the company knew that the drug was ineffective, and referred to it as “the ‘snake oil’ of the 20th century.”
Neurontin has been associated with suicidal thoughts. Earlier this year, the family of Michael Hatcher (left) from Worcestershire blamed Neurontin for his suicide. Pfizer also manufacture the antidepressant Sertraline(Zoloft), which has been linked with homicides, as well as numerous suicides worldwide.
December 12 2013
Today’s Daily Mail reports that 46-year old photographer Kate Barry (right) was found dead yesterday on the pavement beneath her 4th-floor Paris flat. Kate was the daughter of actress / singer Jane Birkin and composer John Barry.
The report states that “Ms Barry was thought to be alone inside the flat before the tragedy happened, and anti-depressants were said to have been found by police.”
December 4 2013
Lorita Aiken (left) is at present in custody in Virginia Beach, USA, having been arrested last week for attempting to kill her two children (aged 4 and 5) by poisoning their food. She also took the poison herself.
When her husband Jeff came home around 5 am from working the night shift and recognised his wife’s actions, he called the police. Doctors were able to save his wife and two children. Jeff said that his children are now back home with him. “My kids are ok. They are fine and healthy.”
Jeff Aiken (right) explained that his wife was suffering from depression and he blames her doctors for over-prescribing her antidepressants. “It’s just too much medicine, way too much. It never would have happened if it weren’t for that. My wife would never let anything happen to our children. It’s completely unbelievable,” he said.
Lorita has no prior criminal history, and Jeff said that he would trust having his wife around his children again. “My wife truly loved for and cared for our children. She would never under any circumstances, wilfully hurt our children.”
Jeff would like to have his wife released from jail so she can undergo mental health therapy. He said: “She just needs to get help so we can get our family restored.”
Jeff is also hoping that his wife’s story will reach other families with loved ones taking antidepressants. “It’s a national problem with these doctors over-medicating their patients, and people going crazy off antidepressants. How many more people have to die, because of the lack of information between pharmacists, and doctors and hospitals?” Jeff asked.
November 28 2013
This week, a jury found a 70-year-old man from North Yorkshire not guilty of attempting to murder his wife, on the grounds of insanity.
The jury agreed that Alec Jordison was “not in his right state of mind” when he forced his hand over his wife Pam’s mouth as she slept, and pinched her nose to stop her breathing. However, Mrs Jordison woke up and bit her husband’s hand to stop the assault.
The court was told that, at the time of the incident, Mr Jordison was being “treated for severe depression”, caused by the mess that builders were creating in their new home.
Mrs Jordison told the jury: “He has never shown any aggression of any kind and is the best type of husband any wife can have. There is so much good in my husband. His deep depression caused by us moving house turned his life upside down.”
A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) defended the decision to prosecute Mr Jordison and said it was felt it had a “strong case”.
It is difficult to understand, however, why nobody at the CPS had recognised that Mr Jordison was, in all probability, suffering a temporary adverse reaction to the antidepressant medication prescribed to him. Then, it would have been clear that there was no adequate reason to put this devoted couple through such a stressful ordeal. It would also have prevented Mr Jordison’s being stigmatised with the label “insane”.
The judge, at least, recognised that medication was an issue when he said that an order was to be sought regarding the defendant’s future medical treatment.
November 21 2013
The Guardian has published two articles this week, featuring the increased use of antidepressants as studied from an international aspect.
The first of these used data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to show that the use of antidepressants has “surged” across the developed countries over the past decade, raising concerns among doctors that pills are being overprescribed.”
In some countries, more than 10% of adults are on antidepressants, including Australia, Canada, USA and the Scandinavian countries. In China, the market has grown by about 20% for each of the past three years.
In its latest Health at a Glance report, the OECD said that rising consumption levels could be explained by the use of antidepressants in milder cases. “These extensions have raised concerns about appropriateness,” it said.
Dr Mark van Ommeren (right), of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said: “A lot of people are getting antidepressants who shouldn’t be getting them. Doctors and healthcare providers should be able to recognise depression correctly so that those who need antidepressants get them and those with only mild cases do not get prescribed.”
Professor Tim Kendall (left), director of the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH) in the UK, said that he doubted whether the rise of antidepressant prescription was a result of better recognition of depression in so many countries. He commented: “It’s much more likely a testament to the effective marketing by the pharmaceutical industry.”
A second article said that doctors across Europe are concerned that common afflictions such as sadness are being turned into medical conditions and treated with pills. They warn that the soaring use of antidepressants is down to growing pressure to “medicalise” unhappiness, complaining that a lack of time and meagre availability of other therapies meant that physicians reach for the prescription pad far too often.
In response to a questionnaire devised by the Guardian and five leading European newspapers, the vast majority of almost 100 European doctors and psychiatrists who replied said there was a “prescribing culture” in their country.
For example, a doctor from Barcelona made the comment that: “We are medicalising common situations: conflict, separation and the vicissitudes of life.”
A psychiatrist from Nantes said about antidepressants: “They are prescribed much too easily. If you take an antidepressant and it doesn’t work, you don’t think it’s because you might not be depressed, but that you need to take a stronger one.”
The survey found a broad concern that common human afflictions – sadness, melancholia, ennui – are being turned into medical conditions and then treated with pills. A Spanish doctor said that: “Psychiatric care is becoming a consumer good in a society in which there is a low tolerance for frustration and adversity. Trivial problems are being psychiatrised. There are people who want antidepressants because ‘the boyfriend left me’.”
A psychiatrist from Tenerife added: “Sadness is a normal human emotion that should not be medicalised. Social problems should be treated at a social level, and not at a psychiatric one.”
November 20 2013
An inquest that was featured in most UK national newspapers yesterday was that of senior army officer Lt Col RobertShaw (left) , deputy commander of the Warminster Garrison in Wiltshire.
It appears that Col Shaw’s workload had increased dramatically after the arrival of his superior officer Col Peter Merriman, at the same time as his support staff was decreased. Finding himself “overwhelmed” with what was expected of him, Col Shaw went to see his GP, who prescribed antidepressants and sleeping tablets. Col Shaw shot himself in his car in a secluded country lane.
Overwork was also a factor in the death of 26-year-old junior doctor Jessica Murphy (right) at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin. Jessica’s mother Marian told theinquest that Jessica had been working 95 hours per week, and was “put under too much pressure”.
Jessica suffered from insomnia, and prescribed herself the antidepressant Amitriptyline and sleeping tablets. After writing a letter of resignation, Jessica took an overdose of Amitriptyline.
November 19 2013
An inquest into a “murder/suicide” in Australia yesterday saw the coroner and a psychiatrist combining to deny the clear involvement of psychiatric medication, thus absolving from blame those who prescribed it.
The inquest in Wagga Wagga heard how 43-year-old Ray Langfield killed his 13-year-old eldest son Patrick as he slept, before taking his own life in a nearby paddock. Ray’s wife Debbie and their two younger children, who were also in the house at the time of the incident, were unharmed. Hours before the deaths, Ray Langfield shot a home video of his children sleeping, speaking of his love for them in the past tense.
Ray had become upset by Debbie’s plans to end their 15-year marriage. He had sought medical help, and had been given antidepressants. Days before the tragedy, Ray was prescribed Temazepam on top of his antidepressants.
In an astonishing denial of the obvious, Associate Professor Michael Robertson (right) from the Royal College of Psychiatrists told the court that it was “highly unlikely that the combination of drugs caused any dangerous side effects – something which is more common among children taking Temazepam.”
Coroner Megan Greenwood said that Ray had suffered reactive depression, but found that there was no failure by his doctors nor any indication that he was at risk of violence towards himself or others. She concluded that “there is no plausible explanation nor any evidence to say why the tragedy occurred.”
November 18 2013
The Scottish Express reported that, in Scotland, one in seven adults is now taking antidepressants daily, after a 4% rise in the past year. This is in spite of a decrease in depression-related GP appointments.
The statistics raise questions about the efficacy of reviews of medication, required to make sure that patients are still receiving appropriate treatment. Mental health experts claim that some patients have not had medication reviewed for years.
Dr Davina Deniszczyc (right), the medical director of Nuffield Health, said: “Some people will have low mood due to a life event. If they were given some supportive therapy, they could have eliminated the need for medication. Once you’ve been on medication, it becomes almost like a crutch.”
Earlier this year, Glasgow GP Dr Des Spence (left) accused fellow doctors of prescribing antidepressants “too easily” and “for too long”. He claimed they were “effective for few people – if at all” and warned: “We are doing harm.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw (right), who obtained the latest figures, said: “We cannot have a situation where people are being parked on this medication, and robbed of any chance of a full recovery … It is extremely worrying that so many people appear to be continuing on this medication without a face-to-face consultation with a GP or practice nurse.”
There is no reason to believe that the situation is much different in other parts of the UK.
November 17 2013
Linzi was looking forward to marrying her fiancé Robert. She had been decorating their new house while awaiting Robert’s return from Afghanistan the following day when she hanged herself.
Linzi had been prescribed antidepressants for post-natal depression after the birth of her second daughter four months before her death. The coroner described Linzi’s death as “impulsive.”
Then, a short while later, came reports that the body of 37-year-old GP Elizabeth Kinston (right) had been found at a nature reserve in Nottingham. Elizabeth, who was “suffering from worry and anxiety after the birth of her second daughter,” had gone missing two weeks beforehand.
November 15 2013
The medication of children is the common theme of two disturbing articles published this week.
Brian Daniels (left) wrote in the Irish Examiner how the definition of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has recently been broadened, so that more children are being diagnosed, and subsequently medicated, for the condition. Brian describes the drugging regime as entirely needless and potentially harmful to children. Earlier this year, Brian had publicised the decision to spend more than £1m on ADHD drugs such asRitalin in Lancashire.
In his critique of Brian’s article, Bob Fiddaman (right) pays particular attention to these sentences: “For decades, psychiatrists have been busily reclassifying sets of behaviour and emotions as ‘mental illnesses’. Strip away all of the psychiatric jargon, and you won’t find a scrap of scientific evidence to support the psychobabble.” Bob would like this message to be displayed in every classroom.
Meanwhile, on the subject of psychobabble, DSM–5 introduced Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) earlier this year as a new mental disorder in children, characterised by persistent (rather than episodic) irritability and severe and frequent temper tantrums.
This week, Maria Bradshaw (right)published a powerful article entitled Threats, Coercion and Chemical Restraints for Distressed Children. In it, she revealed that in their attempt to produce evidence that theirdrug should be prescribed to this new population of mentally ill children, Janssen Pharmaceuticals paid Dr Gabrielle Carlson of Stony Brook University Medical School, NY, to test their drug Risperidone on a group of 23 children hospitalised for ‘rage.’
In the results of the trial, Dr Carlson (left) reported that all but one child agreed to take the liquid medication. Maria revealed that this was hardly surprising, as they were threatened with an injection if they refused. Agreement obtained through the use of threats and coercion is a classic tactic of an abuser, while in law it is deemed as not constituting consent.
As 21 out of the 23 children were already taking anti-psychotic medication, any new information gathered from the testing would have been negligible. And if prescribing mind-altering drugs to children isn’t in itself regarded as child abuse, then using coercion to get the children to take it most certainly is.
November 7 2013
In March 2011, while Mahry was at New Hall Prison (right) in Yorkshire, a psychiatrist examined her and diagnosed her as suffering from an emotionally unstable personality disorder. Mahry was concerned that she had not seen in her family from Neath, over 400 km away, for more than a year.
Mahry was prescribed antidepressants and the following month, at the age of 19, she hanged herself in her cell. Her inquest opened this week.
November 5 2013
Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines to settle accusations that it illegally marketed the antipsychotic drug Risperdalas a way to control patients with dementia in nursing homes, despite the increased risk of strokes in elderly patients. Representatives of Omnicare, the USA’s largest pharmacy for nursing homes, were given financial inducements to prescribe the drugs, as were individual nursing homes and doctors.
In addition, Johnson & Johnson, through its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, targeted Risperdal at children who had been diagnosed with conditions like ADHD, OCD and autism, despite warnings from the FDA due to the serious health risks involved.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (left) said at a news conference today in Washington that Johnson & Johnson “recklessly put at risk the health of some of the most vulnerable members of our society, including young children, the elderly, and the disabled.”
November 4 2013
This definition comes from MISSD, a unique non-profit organisation dedicated to raising awareness and educating the public about the dangers of medication-induced suicide and akathisia. MISSD aims to ensure that people suffering from the symptoms of akathisia are accurately diagnosed so that needless deaths are prevented.
November 2 2013
The campaigning group Justice forWomen are holding a public meeting today in support of Stacey Hyde, who was given a life sentence in 2010 for the murder of her friend’s abusive boyfriend in a violent incident at her friend’s home.
In the early hours of 4th September 2009, Stacey (right) remembers waking up to hear her friend Holly screaming for help. In the frightening events that followed, which Stacey does not clearly remember, Stacey stabbed and killed her friend Holly’s partner Vince Francis.
When the police arrived Stacey was very distressed, sobbing and saying: “He tried to kill me…I had to help Holly…he was going to kill her…I thought he would kill me …” She was found to have injuries, some of which were consistent with previous self-harm, and some of which were consistent with a forceful struggle with Vince.
Stacey was only 17 at the time of the offence, Vince was twice her age, and it was acknowledged by the prosecution that there had been 27 separate incidents of domestic violence between him and Holly, and that he had also been violent towards his previous girlfriend. A 999 call made at the time of the incident records Holly screaming, “My boyfriend is beating my friend… I need the police ASAP.” She is then heard saying “They are fighting,” and then she is heard screaming that “Stacey has a knife and has stabbed him.”
Justice for Women states that: “She was a vulnerable adolescent, who had suffered from a history of mental health problems and sexual violence. Her only crime was to react disproportionately, out of fear, to a man’s violent attack on her and her friend.”
At the time of the incident, Stacey was under the influence of prescribedantidepressants.
The meeting in support of Stacey takes place today at 3pm, at Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.
October 31 2013
In the first inquest, 25-year-old garden centre worker Richard Farrell from Ulverston was found hanged in his shed. He had been to work on the day he died, where colleagues remarked that he “was not himself, but he was still joking”. Richard’s mother said “I can’t understand why it happened.”
Coroner Ian Smith, who spoke 5 years ago of the high number of “out of the blue” suicides linked to Citalopram, recorded a verdict that Richard had “died as a consequence of his own actions while suffering from depression.”
The other victim of Citalopram was 37-year-old Victoria Smith from Cleator Moor, who hanged herself on a bank of the River Ehen. Victoria was being treated for “long-standing problems of alcohol dependency”, and therefore would hardly have been helped by a drug that has a reputation for inducing a craving for alcohol, and for exacerbating the effects of alcohol.
Coroner David Roberts concluded that Victoria had taken her own life.
October 30 2013
Ex-footballer Josh Lyons (left), 26, was killed earlier this year when he was struck by a train in Sussex. At his inquest yesterday, the coroner was told that, “In 2008, Josh visited his GP where he mentioned thoughts of suicide. Over the following four years he received counselling and then was primarily treated through medication, which was not his or his family’s preference as they thought counselling produced better results.” The coroner concluded that Josh took his own life.
“Do Antidepressants Work?” is the title of a surveyto be found in The Guardian and its partners in Europe: Le Monde, El Pais, La Stampa, Gazeta Wyborcza and Suddeutsche Zeitung. These newspapers want to hear from patients and doctors around the world about their experiences of taking and prescribing antidepressants. The results of the survey will be added to a special report planned for later this year.
Monica Cassani (left), creator of the website Beyond Meds,urges her readers: “Please respond to the survey in the Guardian. It includes questions about withdrawal. We can let people know how gravely harmful these drugs are to so many people.”
However, it concerns me that there is no scope in this survey to respond on behalf of the 1800+ people named on this website, not to mention the countless thousands around the world, who did not manage to survive their experience with antidepressants. Surely, theirs are the voices that deserve to be heard above all others.
October 29 2013
Board members of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) reported last week that 34 of their patients took their own lives between April 2011 and March 2012. Of these,12 patients died within 7 days of their last contact with the mental health trust and 5 died on the day they had contact with NSFT. 2 of the suicides took place within inpatient units at the trust.
Hadrian Ball (right), medical director of NSFT, mentioned that in 2011 the suicide rate of mental health patients was on the increase, but that it was difficult to read anything into the figures. Dr Ball referred to the economic downturn, and went on to say: “There has been a significant expansion in mental health services in the last few years, particularly with access to psychological therapies, and a far greater percentage of the population have contact with mental health services.”
It would be interesting to find out how many of the patients who died shortly after contact with the NSFT had either begun a course of medication, or had had their prescription modified, at the time of their last contact.
October 28 2013
Leonie reports that, according to theSunday Times, the Irish Army is to continue prescribing the anti-malaria drug Lariam to its troops, in spite of its well-established links to homicide and suicide. Under the headline “Army’s Lariam expert funded by drug-maker”, journalist Mark Tighe states that Professor Patricia Schlagenhauf (left), who is the “Malaria Prevention Advisor” to the Irish Armed Forces, has received “financial support” and “consultancy fees” from Roche, the manufacturers of Lariam. This follows last month’s decision by the British Army to keep using the drug (see Sept 27).
The use of Lariam, also known as Mefloquine, was association with the slaughter of 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, by Sgt Robert Bales in 2012.
October 24 2013
At an inquest in Worcestershire this week, the family of Michael Hatcher said that they believed that medication prescribed to him was responsible for his suicide.
Michael (left), a 33-year-old forensic technician, had two fingers partially amputated as a child after an accident, but in 2009 complications meant that he had to have the stumps removed. In July of this year, Michael was struck by a train.
His widow Kirsty told the coroner: “Michael struggled with the constant pain in his hand and was prescribed painkillers and a beta-blocker to try and ease the pain. He struggled with the side-effects of these tablets for two and a half years. He just couldn’t win. If he didn’t take the tablets he was in a lot of pain, but if he did, the side-effects of the pills made him very low.”
Michael’s sister Janine added: “My brother was a happy person until he started taking those pills, they just zapped the life out of him.”
Coroner Geraint Williams recorded a verdict of suicide.
October 18 2013
The National Police Bravery Award was, last night, awarded posthumously to PC Ian Dibell (right) of Essex Police. PC Dibell was killed close to his home last year after being shot while attempting to wrestle a gun away from 64-year-old Peter Reeve, who had fired shots at his neighbour in a dispute over noise and parking.
Mr Reeve (left), who was not previously known to the Police, then shot himself in a nearby graveyard. Neighboursdescribed him as a loner but a “nice chap” and a “very smart man” known for helping other elderly neighbours. At the time of the incident, Mr Reeve was on medication for depression.
October 17 2013
“New Research: Antidepressants Can Cause Long-Term Depression” is the headline above an article by Dr Peter Breggin in which he states that antidepressant-induced clinical worsening, which he has been documenting for several years, has been named ”tardive dysphoria“ in a recent scientific study. The study concluded that any initial improvements are often followed by treatment resistance and worsening depression.
Dr Breggin (right) states that “Antidepressants are the second most prescribed group of drugs in America. Yet evidence continues to converge on the dangerousness of antidepressant drugs. Given the difficulty showing any effectiveness even in the short-term, the use of these drugs becomes more and more problematic. On top of that, the antidepressants produce serious withdrawal reactions, making it difficult and at times life-threatening to withdraw from them, even with the recommended clinical supervision and slow taper. Psychiatry has always been slow to respond to scientific evidence that its treatments are harmful. Often, as in this case, psychiatry flouts science. The public will have to develop its own resistance to taking antidepressant drugs.”
October 16 2013
In the House of Commons this morning, there was an interesting debate on Psychological Therapies. There was widespread support among the contributors for the NHS’s IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) programme. Summing up the debate, Dr Daniel Poulter (left), Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department of Health, spoke of the “need to move the focus away from SSRIs – selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – and drug-based therapy towards upstream, proactive intervention for what is sometimes a very vulnerable patient group.”
It is hoped that the Department of Health will itself be pro-active in managing a significant reduction in the huge number of SSRIs that are at present being mis-prescribed to those who are not meeting the NICE threshold of “moderate to severe depression”.
October 15 2013
An inquest in Kent today told how 62 year-old company director David Waygood (left) had been prescribed medication for work-based stress. After a visit to his GP when he was said to be “distressed”, his medication was changed. 5 days later, Mr Waygood walked in front of a train.
Another inquest in Somerset dealt with the death by hanging of animal welfare officer Dawn Aubrey-Ward (right), who had previously gained publicity when she accused theRSPCA of killing healthy animals. Dawn had been prescribed antidepressants after the suicide of her partner.
NICE guidance states that antidepressants should be prescribed for moderate to severe depression. This would not include either bereavement or work-based stress.
Moreover, Dr Clare Gerada, influential chair of the RCGP, said in an interview a few weeks ago that she would never prescribe antidepressants to “people experiencing traumatic life events such as losing a partner or job.”
October 14 2013
Dr Hammond (left) introduces the article by saying: “If you’re on prescription drugs and worried about the risks or side-effects, a new website offers invaluable advice.” The website in question is RxISK, which is the first free, independent website where patients, doctors, and pharmacists can research prescription drugs and easily report a drug side-effect.
Dr Hammond goes on to say: “Medicine relies on trust and there’s a danger that if you stop taking a drug because you can’t be sure the drug company isn’t hiding the results that show it doesn’t work or has unpleasant side-effects, you could do yourself some harm. But like the NHS, there’s an unpleasant tendency for harm and errors to be covered up in the drug industry rather than owned up to and acted on. Informed, earned trust is a much safer mindset than blindly believing that a drug is safe or right for you just because the government allowed it, the regulators approved it, your doctor prescribed it and your pharmacist dispensed it.
As RxISK Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dee Mangin (right) puts it, ‘Prescription drug side-effects are now a leading cause of death, disability, and illness along with cancer, heart disease and stroke.’ RxISK CEO Dr. David Healy adds, ‘In mental health care, drug side-effects are the leading cause of death.’”
Dr Hammond concludes his article with this advice: “If you’re on prescription drugs and want to learn more, check out the site, then ask the questions and start taking more responsibility for what you put in your mouth.”
Under headlines about doctors “turning us into a nation of pill poppers”, both today’s Daily Mail and The Telegraphfeature the results of research by healthcare charity Nuffield Health, which suggests that GPs are much more likely to prescribe medication for depression and other mental illnesses, instead of other medically proven alternatives such as exercise. Their survey showed that only 1% of those who visited their GP were told to exercise to alleviate low mood or anxiety, compared with 46% who were prescribed antidepressants.
The research also revealed that out of those surveyed, 44% reported experiencing anxiety, compared with 33% 5 years ago, while those who had experienced low moods had risen from 31% to 39% over the same period.
Nuffield Health medical director Dr Davina Deniszczyc (right) said: ‘The compelling evidence that physical activity can play an important role in both treating and alleviating early symptoms of mental ill health isn’t sufficiently filtering through to front-line and primary care services. Nuffield Health is calling for all GPs to treat mental health as they would any other condition that can benefit from treatment with exercise – like chronic heart disease, diabetes and obesity, for example.’
Beth Murphy (left), of mental health charity Mind, added: ‘Mind has found that people who do regular exercise or take part in ecotherapy activities such as gardening can improve their mental well-being and reduce feelings of depression. We urge health professionals to take alternatives such as exercise seriously and consider a range of treatments that offer more choice for individuals.’
October 7 2013
Why New Antidepressant Brintellix May Be a Killer is the title of an article at the Gaia Health website.
Lundbeck is marketing Brintellix as the best antidepressant yet and claims that it’s exceptionally safe. However, authorHeidi Stevenson (below) maintains that it may ‘prove to be the worst of them all.’ Below is an abridged version of her article.
‘All SSRIs do the same thing. They prevent serotonin, also called 5-HT, from being reabsorbed, as their name, selective “serotonin reuptake inhibitors”, indicates. That hasn’t turned out well. These drugs are now known to cause previously non-suicidal people to take their own lives without warning. They have also made many people violent and are associated with almost all school shootings.
‘Inexplicable violence, turned both inward and outward, is the result of SSRIs causing a single change to brain function. Brintellix will cause several changes! These changes involve the handling of glutamate, which is a critical amino acid that’s required for brain function and cellular metabolism. Glutamate is necessary – at proper levels, in the right places, and at the right times – for learning, remembering, thinking, and emotions. It’s also involved in energy production throughout the body. Glutamate excites neural function. Too much glutamate can burn nerves out and too little keeps them from functioning properly…
‘No one knows what these manipulations of the brain will do to the body, intelligence, emotional state, sexuality, criminality, empathy, or anything else…
‘The history of all other SSRIs, which interfere with only one specific function, has been dismal. Is there any reason to expect Brintellix to be different? The studies certainly aren’t more extensive than they’ve been with other SSRIs, so the reality is that, as usual, the people whose doctors prescribe it will be the guinea pigs…
‘Brintellix is an SSRI. Is there any reason to believe that it will produce less harm than other SSRIs? In fact, there is every reason to suspect the opposite. By its developer’s own admission, no one knows what effects are produced by 5 of the 6 functions Brintellix was designed to cause. But we do know that the 6th function, serotonin/5-HT reuptake inhibition, is a killer. All of the other 5 functions interfere with normal brain activity – and the manufacturer admits that no one knows what those effects will be!
‘What more do you need to know?’
October 4 2013
CNN reports that authorities who searched the apartment of Miriam Carey (left) in Stamford, Connecticut, found paperwork listing the anti-psychotic drug Risperidone and the antidepressant Escitalopram (Lexapro).
Yesterday, Miriam drove her car, with her 18-month-old child in it, through barricades and into police cars near the Capitol in Washington, and was shot dead by police officers. Miriam was 34, worked as a dental hygienist, and was said to have suffered from post-natal depression.
Daniel tells us that “The UK is the country with the highest levels of drug use and addiction (both prescribed and unprescribed) in Europe,” and asks “Is it our own fault or the fault of the very people who are supposed to be helping us?”
He writes “I was prescribed Citalopram after the death of a close relative four years ago … Citalopram wasn’t the wonder drug it was made out to be, within six weeks of taking it I knew I had to come off of it. It completely dulled my senses, slowed my reactions and made me feel like I didn’t have the energy to wake up and go to work in the morning.”
Daniel concludes that “I think that the repercussions of handing out pills rather than giving someone the opportunity to talk to a trained professional is far greater cost wise, than a course of therapy sessions would be at the beginning of a patients treatment. The government have strict policies and guidelines on drugs that are Class ‘A’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ and yet it seems when it comes to mental illness and how we are to cope with it, prescribed drugs speak a whole lot louder than words.”
October 3 2013
Two influential bodies have recently expressed doubt about the efficacy of prescribing antidepressants for bipolar disorder and for “reactive depression”, such as bereavement.
A “task force” representing the International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) last month published a report in the American Journal of Psychiatry in which they found a ‘striking incongruity between the wide use of and the weak evidence base for the efficacy and safety of antidepressant drugs in bipolar.’ They concluded that ‘because of limited data, the task force could not make broad statements endorsing antidepressant use but acknowledged that individual bipolar patients may benefit from antidepressants.’
Meanwhile, in the UK, Dr Clare Gerada (right), chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners(RCGP), stated that she does not recommend prescribing antidepressants for reactive depression. She said in an interview: ‘I’ve seen people experiencing traumatic life events such as losing a partner or job, who come in wanting antidepressants. But I would never prescribe them because, in these cases, time is the healer.’
October 1 2013
Lundbeck’s new “lethal weapon”, aka Brintellix, aka Vortioxetine, has been approved by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of adults with major depressive disorder (or depression, as it used to be known). The results of clinical studies conducted in India seem to have been accepted by the FDA, even though Lundbeck director Torsten Masden admitted that they didn’t always achieve “the outcome that we had hoped for.”
As Lundbeck’s Citalopram is known to have been responsible for more deaths in the UK than any other antidepressant, it is hoped that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will look more closely at this drug before letting it loose on the unsuspecting public.
Incidentally, the UK patent on Escitalopram expires at the end of May next year.
September 30 2013
Today’s Daily Mail contains an excellent article by Chloe Lambert on the over-prescription of antidepressants. The report features the experiences of three volunteers who attended their doctors with a similar range of symptoms.
The first of these, Nicky Manning (left), a 24-year-old marketing executive, left the consulting room with a prescription for Sertraline within ten minutes of telling her GP that she was feeling anxious and was sleeping badly. Another volunteer was prescribed Citalopram after telling her doctor that she was feeling depressed. Neither of the volunteers fitted the NICE benchmark for being prescribed antidepressants which is to be diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. A third volunteer, however, was told that, “The best treatment was exercise and changes to my diet, such as cutting down on coffee.”
A GP, Dr Des Spence, was quoted as saying, “The growth rate of antidepressant use is a major concern. We need to acknowledge they are being overused … People have always talked to others to make sense of their problems. People’s sense of well-being isn’t in the gift of medicine — it’s in the support of friends and family.”
September 29 2013
Peter Hitchens (right) writes periodically in The Mail on Sunday about the dangers of antidepressants, and his words have been featured previously on this site. Today, his article was linked to the Navy Yard shootings.
Another awful massacre – and another killer on ‘happy pills’
Last week I speculated that the Washington Navy Yard mass killer, Aaron Alexis, might have been unhinged by cannabis. I still think it possible. This very dangerous drug is virtually legal in much of the USA and Britain, and is strongly correlated with severe mental illness.
But I have now learned from the New York Times that Alexis was certainly taking a so-called ‘antidepressant’ called Trazodone, nowadays prescribed for insomnia.
These powerful pills are given out by doctors who often don’t know anything about them, on the weakest of excuses. There’s no hard evidence they do any more good than sugar pills, but lots that their so-called ‘side-effects’ can be very severe. The US National Institutes of Health, in an ‘Important Warning’, ringed twice in red on their website, say that people who take ‘antidepressants’ (especially teenagers and young people) can become suicidal.
They add: ‘You should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways when you take Trazodone or other antidepressants even if you are an adult over age 24. You may become suicidal, especially at the beginning of your treatment and any time that your dose is increased or decreased.’
Again and again, these mass killers are found to have been taking such pills. How many more must there be, before we have a proper investigation?
The NIH “Important Warning” to which Peter Hitchens refers is applied individually to all SSRIs and other antidepressants. Therefore the warning for Citalopram, for example, is identical to the warning for Prozac, Sertraline, Amitriptyline, etc.
Meanwhile, in the UK, hundreds of people each year continue to take the lives of themselves and/or others while under the influence of antidepressants.
September 27 2013
The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to continue prescribing the anti-malaria drug Lariam, even though it has been linked to several suicides and murders among troops.
The use of Lariam, also known as Mefloquine, was recently discontinued by the US military, following the slaughter of 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, by Sgt Robert Bales (below) in 2012.
The MoD, however, has refused to ban the drug so far despite repeated warnings over its dangers. The ministry said it continues to prescribe Lariam based on the guidelines set out by Public Health England.
Former senior medical officer Lt-Col Ashley Croft accused the MoD of ignoring the dangers of Lariam, saying he has warned for more than a decade that it is a potentially dangerous drug. He told “The problem is that it can make people have psychotic thoughts and therefore act in an irrational manner and potentially a manner that is dangerous to themselves or their colleagues, or civilians.”
Gloucester: Former Hewlett-Packard director Peter Mason (left), who suffered from depression, took his life while awaiting trial in Gloucester Prison. The inquest heard that on the night Mr Mason died, he asked staff for his medication early, meaning he would not have to leave his cell after the 5pm lockdown. He was found hanged in his cell 2 hours later.
Mr Mason had been charged with the attempted murder of his estranged wife and her new partner last year. After confronting them, Mr Mason allegedly stabbed them both several times. It is not known whether Mr Mason was on medication at the time of this incident.
September 26 2013
Cumbria: The inquest took place yesterday of a 55-year-old man, who suffered from hypoglycaemia. He took an overdose of approximately 300 tablets. His partner discovered that quantities of seven different prescribed drugs were missing, including medication for blood pressure, diabetes and depression.
Although no illicit drugs were involved, coroner David Roberts (right) recorded a verdict of drug-related death.
September 25 2013
MHRA: Congratulations to Dr Ian Hudson on his appointment as the new Chief Executive of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK drug regulator which is funded entirely by Pharma. Dr Hudson (below) was previously the MHRA’s Director of Licensing for 12 years, and, like many of his colleagues at the Agency, had worked previously for a pharmaceutical company.
In Dr Hudson’s case, he worked for GlaxoSmithKline, where he was appointed World Safety Officer in 1999. He came to prominence in the lawsuit that followed the case of Donald Schell, who, 48 hours after having been prescribed Paxil (Seroxat), shot dead his wife, his daughter and his granddaughter before shooting himself through the head.
When asked whether the report on GSK’s own investigation into the link between Paroxetine (Seroxat) and aggression would be submitted to any government agency, Dr Hudson replied: “If a Government agency requests information on aggression and Paroxetine, we would, but we do not intend to proactively send it to them at this stage. This was an internal review. We do many internal reviews on many topics.”
As the investigative author Bob Fiddaman (right) points out: “This doesn’t really install confidence in informed consent. If Dr Hudson was back then stating that his findings would not be reported to the drug regulator then one can only assume that he still holds the belief that pharmaceutical companies are entitled to hold on to information that could endanger the public.”
Later, Dr Hudson was asked, “Do you believe that it is possible that Paxil has caused any person, worldwide, to commit an act of homicide or suicide?” To which he replied: “I have seen no evidence to suggest that at all.”
In the past 12 years, while Dr Hudson has been working for the Pharma-funded MHRA, the number of cases of antidepressant-induced suicide and homicide in the UK has amounted to several thousands. Throughout this time, the MHRA has resisted all efforts to publicise the clear dangers of antidepressants, or even to follow their American counterparts and insist on clear suicide warnings on the packaging of these drugs.
I see no evidence at all to suggest that Dr Hudson’s appointment will do anything to rectify the situation.
September 23 2013
David Barr, 28, died after jumping from the Forth Road Bridge in Scotland just weeks after finding out that his employment and support allowance would be withdrawn. An Atos assessor had ruled David was fit to work despite being on anti-psychotic sedatives, sleeping tablets and antidepressants. His condition was recorded on a medical assessment as “anxiety and depression”.
In an appeal letter, David wrote: “I disagree with your decision that I am fit for work. I have serious mental health problems that prevent me from doing everyday tasks which means I cannot work at this moment in time. I did try and explain this to the medical examiner.”
David worked cleaning buses for three years until 2011, but could not cope with the routine of holding down a job. He was placed on strong medication last year but his mental health worsened.
David’s assessment summary stated: “Mr Barr has a mental health problem. He takes triple medication … He reports self harm in the past. He reports he attempted an overdose six weeks ago but he would not say what he took. He reports he has had no thoughts of suicide since. The evidence overall suggests that he is not at substantial risk.”
The DWP and Atos sent their sympathies to David’s family.
September 19 2013
Navy Yard: The Washington Post confirmed that Aaron Alexis (left) had been prescribed the tricyclic antidepressant Trazodone.
Eminent psychiatrist Peter Breggin (right) states that: Alexis was reportedly started on trazodone for sleep on August 23, 2013 at the Veterans Administration (VA) clinic in Providence and refilled on August 28 at the VA in Washington, DC. Twenty days later, on September 16, he committed the violent assaults. Severe adverse drug reactions such as suicide and violence typically occur in this relatively short time span after starting an antidepressant. Individuals with a known history of violence like Alexis are at even higher risk of being driven to more extreme violence by exposure to antidepressant drugs.
Antidepressants can cause a broad range of stimulating amphetamine-like adverse drug effects that will then cause or contribute to violence. The official FDA-approved label for trazodone lists the following stimulating effects: “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania and mania.”
… The trazodone Medication Guide, found toward the back of the FDA-approved label, warns about patients “acting aggressive, being angry or violent.” It also warns about “Acting on dangerous impulses” while taking trazodone.
September 17 2013
Navy Yard: Associated Press reports that Aaron Alexis (right), the ex-US Navy reservist who killed 12 people and wounded eight at a Washington DC Navy installation, had received treatment for mental health issues, including paranoia, trouble sleeping and hearing voices.
Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars states: Several indications suggest that Navy Yard killer Aaron Alexis may have been taking psychiatric drugs, bringing into focus once again the clear connection between anti-depressants and mass shootings.
September 16 2013
Leonie (seated, left) has reported on the inaugural conference that she organised in her home town of Wicklow on Saturday. The theme of the conference was Let’s Talk About Suicide. Guest Maria Bradshaw (standing), CEO of CASPER in New Zealand, was able to announce that in the groups of young people which Casper has helped, there has been a 20% reduction in deaths by suicide. Leonie would like to see similar initiatives carried out in Ireland.
September 12 2013
Healthwatch Northamptonshire is calling for an independent inquiry into the treatment of four patients at St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton, all of whom died within seven months of each other while on anti-psychotic medication. Healthwatch has the power to recommend that the CQC investigate the deaths as one issue, rather than individual cases.
September 10 2013
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day
A new website reveals that SSRIs were first created in Sweden 40 years ago, and provides a link to the excellent, thought-provoking documentary trilogy “Who Cares in Sweden”. The film’s press release states that “This is about scientists and experts in the field who for their own personal gain – financial and otherwise – recommend an increase in the use of medicines. This is direct bribery and a corruption culture. The system is so refined that the people involved are no longer seeing that their conduct as dishonest or even questionable, and that state money and innocent lives are at stake. Because of this academic abyss, people are not heeding the opposition, they silence it.”
The Mirror newspaper reports that “painkillers and anti-depressants are killing more Britons than heroin or cocaine.” The figures quoted are that “last year 807 people died in the UK as a result of taking anti-depressants and painkillers compared with 718 deaths linked to cocaine and heroin abuse.” Explaining the rise in antidepressant use, the Mirror states that “part of the reason more people are being prescribed anti-depressants is that more may be overcoming the stigma of having mental health issues and are visiting their GPs for help. But there are other ways to treat anxiety and depression – such as professional counselling – that don’t require these drugs, many of which people don’t always realise are addictive.”
(Where antidepressants are concerned, the figures will be massively under-recorded, as they seem to relate only to overdoses. They do not take into account the hundreds of instances each year where people take their lives in an impulsive, violent act as a result of an adverse reaction to their prescribed antidepressants).
September 7 2013
Dispensing error: Leeds law firm Ison Harrison reported recently on their website that they have negotiated a settlement of £2,000 for a client after a pharmacy dispensed antidepressants rather than medication to alleviate migraines. The patient suffered severe abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, became uncoordinated and felt suicidal. As well as compensation for these symptoms, she was unable to work for a few days and was reimbursed for her loss of earnings.
September 6 2013
Domestic Violence: UK Home Secretary Theresa May (right) announced that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) will be heading an investigation into domestic violence, after the publication of figures which showed that the conviction rate has reached its highest ever level. This follows figures published last month showing the highest ever level of prescriptions for antidepressants.
(Many senior police officers are already aware that antidepressants can lead to out of character violence as well as out of the blue suicides. Perhaps this investigation will be able to join the dots and reveal the connection.)
September 5 2013
Leonie tells us that a new book by Peter Gøtzsche ‘Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How big pharma has corrupted healthcare‘ has recently been published. Chapter two is freely available and relates to SSRI-induced suicide. Pages 224-229, dealing with Lundbeck corruption, are particularly interesting. And on p. 230, Gøtzsche tells us that “Bipolar disorder … is mainly iatrogenic, caused by SSRIs and ADHD drugs.”
Norwich: at the inquest of a 25-year-old man who had jumped to his death from the 5th floor of a shopping centre (right), Norfolk coroner William Armstrong was extremely critical of local mental health services. He said there were “fundamental deficiencies” in the way that the local NHS trust had treated Matthew Dunham, and that support had been “fragmented and uncoordinated.” Matthew had been prescribed antidepressants by his doctor.
September 4 2013
Highly recommended reading: Bob Fiddaman’s book The Evidence, However, Is Clear: The Seroxat Scandal, which has this week re-entered the Amazon UK Top 100.
September 3 2013
A Sussex newspaper reported that Lee Robinson, a 39-year-old unemployed electrician from Crawley, “is thought to be the first person in Sussex whose suicide is officially linked to recent benefits cuts.” (Tragically, however, he is certainly not the first person in Sussex whose death is officially linked to antidepressants.)
September 2 2013
‘Tricyclic antidepressants, particularly amitriptyline, remain the most likely antidepressants to be involved in drug-related deaths. However, the highest ever number of deaths involving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, primarily citalopram, was recorded last year. The report suggests that this could be due to a rapid increase in the number of prescriptions for SSRIs over the past five years.
‘Similarly, prescriptions for the “other” category of antidepressants increased by 60 per cent between 2008 and 2012, and related deaths peaked in 2012 at 104. Most of these deaths involved venlafaxine or mirtazapine, the report says.’
August 31 2013
Northamptonshire: The Northamptonshire Telegraph told of the inquest of 31-year-old Jayne Rigney, who “leapt in front of a lorry.” Jayne was 8 months pregnant. 4 days earlier she had visited a doctor, where she had shown “signs of depression and anxiety.” The report does not mention whether or not Jayne was prescribed medication.
Oxford: an inquest reported that 39-year-old charity worker Kris Scott, who had a “history of depression”, jumped to his death from Carfax Tower (left). It was said that “he thought his condition was improving so he had stopped his medication against advice and wanted to start work again.” (People who have been prescribed antidepressants should never suddenly stop taking their medication. Gradual tapering is advisable. Anyone considering altering the dosage of their medication, or withdrawing from it, needs to take medical advice first.)
August 30 2013
On Twitter, CASPER reported that: In NZ 87.5% of those who suicided in the public health system were on psych drugs. (CASPER – Community Action on Suicide Prevention Education and Research – is a charity based in New Zealand which works pro-actively to prevent suicide, particularly in the young)
Drug trials data: the Guardian reports that the pharmaceutical industry has “mobilised” an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials. A leaked memo reveals that lobbying is targeted at Europe where the European Medicines Agency (EMA) wants to publish all of the clinical study reports that companies have filed, and where negotiations around the clinical trials directive could force drug companies to publish all clinical trial results in a public database.
Pharmaceutical companies AbbVie (makers of Humira) and InterMune (Esbriet) have filed a lawsuit to deny access to the data from their trials on the benefits and harms of these drugs, claiming these vital facts are “trade secrets” whose release would harm their profits. Their action has led to the shutdown of the entire public-access program, leaving millions of patients worldwide, and their doctors, in the dark. Professor David Healy (right) has set up a petition, calling on AbbVie and InterMune to drop their European Union lawsuit and release all patient level data on Humira, Esbriet and their other products.
August 28 2013
CCHR reported under the headline £73 million for antidepressants that ‘don’t work’ that in England alone, over 27 million prescription items for antidepressants were dispensed in 2012, costing the National Health Service more than £73 million.
Ireland: a conference is to be held on Sat 14th Sept at the Grand Hotel, Wicklow, entitled Let’s Talk About Suicide. This will be hosted by Leonie Fennell, and will feature Maria Bradshaw, CEO of CASPER.