Study 329: Big Risk

November, 16, 2015 | 24 Comments


  1. I have only recently become aware of the issues you discuss above. Having been drugged for 40 years on nitrazepam and anti-depressants, it was hard enough to struggle through each day trying to work for a living. I have been bedridden for 2 years after withdrawing from nitrazepam. However, I am finally free from depression after four decades. My eyes are now wide open, my brain is now almost fully alert. Sadly my body is unwilling to function. I feel betrayed by the doctors who treated me. I hope that the truth about modern medicine will become widely known. Far too many people have no idea that they cannot trust their doctors. They assume that doctors know about the drugs they prescribe. I now feel I have been a pawn in a game of chess.

    • Oh Fiona, you are a woman after my own heart. I too, have been psychiatrically drugged for over 35 years, and have barely survived their withdrawals. But I live for the day when I hear other woman saying they no longer suffer the drug-induced crippling depressions as I did, that our eyes are now wide open to see – the truth, that our brains are more alert – although slightly or not so slightly permanently damaged. Look at the decades of our own lives that we gave up in order for psychiatry to fix our fictitious ‘chemically imbalanced’ brains, because we trusted them. What a mistake that was. It brings me such joy to hear that your doing so much better. And I so love Dr. David Healy for doing the work that he does. I finally feel that I have someone on my side when psychiatry threw me away years ago.

    • Thank you for your petition, Fiona French, and, for a remarkable story.

      After all that you are on your way oot of it and sending you Scottish Hopes for Your Health from a West Coaster to an East Coaster..

      Very moving and told like a true Scot, eloquent and indomitable…somebody has got to start listening and act on this…well done for everything. You have friends here.

      Signed Up straight away.

  2. David, once again your postings come to my aol emails, and as always teach me something I do not know about.

    We are beginning to finalize our plans for An International Benzodiazepine Symposium here in Bend, Oregon in September of 2017. I am still hoping you will be one of an illustrious group of your peers, and possible critics, during this gathering of people who have been involved in the benzo conundrum that has virtually ruined millions of people’s lives on their specific path of destruction.

    If this email reply message is seen by someone who can send to that I am eyeball deep in putting the final touches on The Benzo Blunder/ a memoir, I would appreciate it.
    If not, continue your good works..

    thank you,
    Marjorie Carmen, Bend, Oregon

  3. Guess it’s not surprising that we hear so much lately about the glorious promise of getting our medical care from smartphone apps. You may have heard that Thomas Insel, the head of the National Institutes of Mental Health, has quit to take a job with Google developing apps to monitor and track your mental state:

    Often this is openly advertised as a solution to the high cost of employing actual people to care for other people. But even more perversely, it’s sold as genuine Personalized Medicine that puts you the patient in control. In reality, you’re more powerless than ever (and not only because a flock of data-brokers are gobbling up bogus information about your emotions, sleep, attention span, etc. to sell to god knows who).

    Unlike a human doctor, the App will only ask the questions it’s programmed to ask – and you cannot tell it what it has not been programmed to “want” to know. Someday it may give you an hour-by-hour readout of your blood sugar levels, but the app won’t tell you such “tight control” has actually been linked to higher mortality. Mostly it will ask you questions for which a pill or other product is the answer.

    And of course it will replace one more messy human-to-human interaction with a nice, clean, predictable bit of screentime. Just what we all need to restore our health and sanity … NOT.

    • The Samaritans came up with a whizzy notion earlier this year – Twitter users should screen each other’s tweets for ‘danger’ words like ‘sad’ ‘lonely’ ‘fed up’. Then the Depression/Suicide Stormtroopers (it was never clear exactly who they were going to be) could be alerted to save people from themselves….the good thing was that there was a spirited backlash against such intrusion and the Samaritans dropped the idea….

      But – the idea of being tracked by the internet for medication compliance (a.k.a personalised medicine) is truly horrific – I wonder how much health info is already reaching Big Pharma and Big Risk via the Google fitness apps? Or Fitbit etc..Likely, Big R is much more efficient at mining the data – Big P seems to be a tad useless at new technology but no doubt it’ll catch up.

      I just read The Circle by Dave Eggars: (didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know but has put me off ever filling in another online survey). A dystopian novel about just how far a thinly disguised Google might go in terms of controlling behaviour..not brilliantly written but scary and interesting.

  4. I have long thought that the day Big Risk, the insurance companies, decide that the cost of medication-induced road accidents is too high – and refuse to cover people on any drug that affects judgement – will be a tipping point. People being offered antidepressants for exam stress, bereavement, divorce/domestic violence-induced anxiety, phobias, post childbirth exhaustion…may well think twice about accepting, if the price is that they must surrender their driving licence. We value the freedom to drive very highly and everyone who finds themselves landed with a bi-polar diagnosis suffers hugely when they are forbidden to drive, even for a few weeks. Similarly if you aren’t allowed to drive whilst taking opioid painkillers, statins, smoking cessation drugs – I wonder how far the prescription rate would fall.

    That doesn’t mean GPs should do nothing – everyone in distress needs to be heard and helped. But it will mean taking time to talk, and work out when a calming drug or painkiller is more important to a patient than the freedom to drive.

    Big Risk is massively influential – as a newly qualified lawyer dealing with many road traffic accident injuries, I spent 80% of my time dealing with insurance companies, not clients – or even applying all the legal knowledge I’d spent so long learning. The first lesson I learnt was – never, ever tangle with an insurance company. They make vast bucks from reducing their own risk of ever having to pay out on a claim to virtually nil- and anyone who has failed to declare the tiniest detail will find that their policy is invalid. Anyone with serious health problems: stroke, heart attack, serious mental illness will find it hard and extortionately expensive to get any insurance for travel – because they are simply too risky – the chance of the insurers having to pay out is too high!

    And never trust a GP who says ‘If I say you’re OK to drive, you’re safe’ – because you ain’t. Rear end some-one and give them a whiplash neck? When the insurers find out (as they will) that you have a ripe old medical history of depression/bi-polar/psychosis – and that you still take medication – you will be in for a battle.

    All boils down to money in the end – as usual.

    • May be of interest to some readers that the DVLA ( here in the UK) need to be informed of your medication levels for mental health conditions. They will revoke your licence if they feel that information given by you, your GP or psychiatrist warrants such. Your licence will then most likely be given back to you once you are deemed to be “a safe driver” once more, however, it will be a 12 month licence which means that you, your GP and/or psychiatrist will need to fill a form again within the 12 months. If you are unfortunate enough to be admitted into a psychiatric unit at any time, then, once discharged, driving is out of bounds until you show “3 months stability” – and you wait again for permission to drive. At the moment, the waiting time for DVLA to respond to your case once they have all the relevant information is 9 weeks ( getting the ‘relevant info’ having taken a good few months already of course!). They provide you with a letter, early on in this procedure, telling you that, while you wait for their reply, “if your GP states you are fit to drive then you may do so”. All of this, of course, in addition to the fact that if you use Diazepam or similar you must not drive anyway as the Police now have powers to drug test at the roadside.
      Gets complicated doesn’t it?

  5. There’s a different angle for you…………..”we don’t know if the trial might be asking the wrong question in the first place”

    Picking apart the unpickable…

    Does Murray Stewart really think that he can get off….that lightly

    Full twitter feed with photo and ” and ” on Twitter @ GSK

    GSK ‏@GSK 6 hrs6 hours ago
    We need to be fully transparent with how we work with healthcare professionals – Murray Stewart, our CMO, at #FTPharma
    3 retweets 4 likes

    • • GSK ‏@GSK 6 hrs6 hours ago
    Murray Stewart at #FTPharma on why patients need to be involved at the beginning of the clinical trial process

    7 retweets 4 likes

    • • GSK ‏@GSK 6 hrs6 hours ago
    We need to work with regulators to define relevant endpoints for patients – Murray Stewart @GSK at #FTPharma
    2 retweets 8 likes

    • • GSK ‏@GSK 6 hrs6 hours ago
    How do we get patients aware of how pharma can help them? We bring the patients in – Murray Stewart @GSK at #FTPharma
    4 retweets 8 likes

    • • GSK ‏@GSK 6 hrs6 hours ago
    We need to get doctors and patients to trust what we do – Murray Stewart @GSK at #FTPharma

  6. I’m sticking this link here, because I’m not sure where else to put it – nothing to do with insurers – but a tiny gleam of evidence that maybe patients aren’t always a walk-over when it comes to selling them a drug.

    Regarding the ‘female viagra’ – not quite the avid appetite for it from women as Valeant had maybe forecast? I’m sure that a heap more cash will be thrown at promoting the drug and that it might just be a slow starter – nonetheless heartening to see maybe women aren’t sold a pup all that easily…

  7. Excellent post.
    As to Risk, I’ve just moved to a new town and plan to start with the naturopath here to get the lay of the land. That, plus swimming and riding my bike, eating organic food, making friends and making art, are my plan for health.

  8. RIAT have delivered the Golden Egg, and, yet……

    Interesting that on MIA, The Big Risk, wants David Healy to respond to comments when they are flying all over every article with comments……..

    ben goldacre ‏@bengoldacre Nov 15
    ben goldacre Retweeted Sense About Science

    Still no elaboration or explanation from @adbeggs over why he thinks asking 4 access to trial results is a bad thing

  9. Come in No. 15..

    GSK ‏@GSK 6 hrs6 hours ago
    Thanks @raconteur for honouring our CEO, Andrew Witty, as a Brit who’s changed the world. Read more at


    In manner, something of the grand seigneur still clung to him, so that he even ripped you up with an air, and I have been told that he was a RACONTEUR [storyteller] of repute.

    The Adventures of Peter Pan by Barrie, James Matthew

  10. This is a Rxisk Story all by itself

    Fiona F…what a woman

    Nevertrustadoctor….a truer sentiment has never thus been spake..lying murderous bloodhounds…yet, the cold turkey approach got her off it…just…this is the thing

    Face death, deal with it, move on….just like all doctors

    FF Story in Scotland on Sunday, Newspaper, but, of course, it should be International on Everyday

  11. Only this morning I had conversation with someone about high cholesterol. A lot of attitudes are ” ill be ok because you can get tablets for it “. I say why do that when you can just eat healthier and they look at me gone out.
    It’s madness. Your body is telling you to look after it a bit more, but why bother if you can take a tablet.

  12. Whilst waiting for David Healy IAI, Mark Salter said:

    If language is inherently unstable, then how can we hope to diagnose illness accurately?

    Doesn’t ssri, benzo, statin use have a Lazy Way about it.

    If a Psychiatrist or Gp doesn’t know what to do, then the ‘choice’ language they choose is ultimately the way you will go.

    Choosing your Pill, custom made for You, is one way of doing it and yet the Rules are constantly and consistently being flaunted.

    With Statins, it will Run and Run; you pays your money; you takes your choice

    Typically or not typically:

    “I thought I might give you a statin”

    “You thought wrong”

  13. ‘Some front’

    GSK ‏@GSK 15 hrs15 hours ago
    We’re changing the way we work with doctors for the better. Here’s what happening in Europe:

    GSK ‏@GSK 20 hrs20 hours ago
    Dr Waheed Jamal on why we’re changing how we work w/ doctors. Here’s what we’re doing in EU:



  14. [Cough] BMJ 1977

    ben goldacre ✔ @bengoldacre

    Fab new WHO statement on data sharing in emergencies. Note background paper is by [cough] me +colleagues! #alltrials

    Retweeted by Sam Downie


    Corresponding author
    Centre for Evidence

    Based Medicine,
    Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences,
    University of Oxford
    © 2015
    Centre for Evidence

    The World Health Organization commissioned this r
    eport. The views expressed are those of the
    , and are not those of the World Health Organization
    . The authors have received funding from
    the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), NIHR Diagnostic
    Evidence Co

    erative, NIHR School for Primary Care Research,
    Wellcome Trust
    , Laura and John
    Arnold Foundation,
    West of England Academic Health Sciences Network,
    and the World Health
    Organization. The authors have not accepted funding from any manufacturers of diagnostic tests
    or services related to this report
    . This is a draft report which due to the
    timeline has
    been subject to internal peer review

    Who is in/out of control…Boom. Boom.

Leave a Reply