The Church of GSKology

Editorial Note: This post is about midway through a series of posts that are broadly part of the AbbVie series. The series began with GSK’s Transparency and Access Journey, moved on to The House of GSK and will have at least two more posts after this. 

Reading the Minneapolis StarTribune, it was the reference to privacy that clinched it.

Facing a sexual abuse lawsuit, the archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis made a big deal of putting an independent panel in place to investigate.  They put the Reverend Reginald Whitt in charge of appointing the panel and receiving its reports on behalf of the archdiocese.

An Independent Panel that Sticks to the Rules

Rev. Whitt told priests and deacons that the task force may review specific files to determine whether the policies of the archdiocese concerning clergy sexual misconduct were properly followed. But, he wrote, “Access to these files will be within my control, and limited only to what is necessary for the task force.”

He also wrote that he recognized that many priests and deacons “may be anxious about your right to privacy and a good reputation.” He assured them that the archdiocese will proceed according to the principles of due process and uniform application of canon policy.

This sounds terribly like the approach Sir Andrew Witty is attempting to put in place for GSK, AbbVie and the rest of the branded pharmaceutical industry vis-a-vis abuses, including child abuse committed in their name.

Investigating Abuse

Is Abuse too strong a word? In Study 329, a controlled trial of Paxil given to children, there was a statistically significant increase in suicidality on Paxil compared to placebo. These children were unquestionably injured but it seems about as likely that GSK have contacted the children involved to tell them what happened as the Catholic Church have voluntarily got in touch with anyone who has been affected by their priests or nuns to inquire about their wellbeing.

In Study 329, the consent form tells parents and children that the child will not be exposed to any danger or risks beyond what would be found in normal clinical practice – but the protocol for the study involved an attempt to force titrate children up to a dose of 300 mg of imipramine. This is double the standard dose used for adults – at least in Europe. One reasonable hypothesis as to why this might have been done was that it was an effort to make Paxil look good. Pretty grim if it was.

Privacy Rights 

Just as the Church is insisting on the Privacy Rights of its priests, GSK, AbbVie and others have taken a legal action against the European Medicines Agency in an effort to claim Corporate Privacy Rights (See Let’s Do the AbbVie Again,  Avoiding Adverse Events).

Just as we respect an individual’s right to believe what they want – to be a Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Jew – and defend a pregnant woman’s right to control what happens to her body, GSK and AbbVie are claiming a comparable right to decide what the clinical trial data they hold means.

They are asserting their right to spin their version of what it is you put in your body even though this clashes fundamentally with your right to know what you are putting in your body.

Canon Law

Companies operate their own version of Canon Law. Canon law is the Church’s own internal legal system that the Church insists has primacy over national judicial systems. The Bishops and Cardinals adhere to this rather than the laws of the US or other countries. Whether intended or not, this is a system that favors the clerical abusers over abused children. It is this that has fueled the anger of those who have been abused. There would be little problem if the Church’s legal system were harder on the Clerics than on Children. But using a system that defies natural justice to safeguard Clerics not unsurprisingly causes anger.

GSK and other companies run something similar. They actively attempt to over-ride the legal systems of the United States and other countries with claims that unless findings are demonstrated in controlled trials to a statistically significant extent that they simply aren’t happening.

The US Federal Judicial Manual states that convincing evidence of challenge, dechallenge and rechallenge is the way to demonstrate that a drug has caused an adverse event. No place here for statistical significance.

With a flourish worthy of the best Jesuits, internally GSK and other companies apply exactly the approach advocated by the Federal Judicial Manual when assessing whether Paxil has caused a birth defect or suicide, but even after deciding in private their drug is guilty, in public they insist there is no absolutely no evidence that their drug has caused a problem.

This can even leave GSK personnel stating in public that they are not aware of a single side effect that is caused by Paxil or likely any of their drugs. See Burn in Hell.

The US Supreme Court has weighed in on this question and decided that GSK’s model is wrong. People have a right to make up their own minds as to what an adverse event profile means. The only people who have this right at the moment though are investors. Patients and doctors have no rights – at least not established.

Church of GSKology

GSK have applied to be treated as engaged in Science. They say that what they do has all the features of Science – clinical trials, peer reviewed publications.

Ideally the Courts would decide that rather than being a Science they are a Church – they operate a system that requires belief without evidence. There is less doubt that their publications are ghost-written than the Bible is.

While they have people with great public relations skills like James Shannon who say all the right things in public, like the Catholic Church GSK appear to operate an Opus Dei like arm which enables them to place their people close to heart of Britain’s regulator the MHRA and other bodies. They are close to being the Established Church in England.

In the face of abuse, GSK make a big deal about apparent reform but the Rev Whitt described the mechanism GSK have put in place perfectly: “Access to these files will be within my control, and limited only to what is necessary for a Responsible research proposal.”

Waiting for a Frances?

When it comes to reform it seems Andrew is a Ben not a Frankie.

We need some Martin Sixsmith or Dan Brown to write a book and make a movie on the lines of The Lost Child of Philomena Lee.

Don’t hold your breath. GSK are a lot scarier than the Catholic Church.

RxISK: Research and report prescription drug side effects on

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Pharmaceutical companies have hijacked healthcare in America, and the results are life-threatening.


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  1. I have said all along that someone could bring the blockbuster of The GSK scandal and The Seroxat Scandal and The MHRA Scandal into one brilliant and intoxicating movie.

    But, the sad thing is the pundits would think it was fiction and not fact and have an enjoyable evening, not even realising that what has happened and what is happening is fuction.

    A movie could be made of my medical records ref Philomena and her loss of child from the numbs (nuns) and my child who was lost in a sea of medical misconduct, medical lies, threatening calls from Can-a-da.

    Where is Shelley, now. Time for another Pan-or-rama………..

    Artimus, slipped off the radar, of our Beeb, was there a reason for not putting Artimus on prime time telly?

    We, could make the movie, couldn’t we.

    Lots of talent out there. Me, you, Fid, Truthman, 1BOM, Shelley, etc. a regular crew who will not ever stop.

    Is there any reason why we could not make a movie?
    If we cannot even get a press release into the press about all this……….then why should we cower behind our internet revelations…….

    Over to you……next instalment …..on our radar.
    And, the great thing is, we would not have to employ ‘actors’ we could star in our own film. We are the unknown celebrities…of..The Scandal.

    And GlaxoSmithKline are only perceived as scary by the perceivers….am I scared of GlaxoSmithKline…..not yet….maybe, later………hide under duvet? NO, not anymore….

    We have the script…why not make the movie….US v THEM.
    We have to do something amazing. I can think of no reason why we should not do something so simply amazing.

    And where does the money come from…..I have some money, I would put up and not shut up…for the Film of all films….just to knock some sense into the whole can of worms…….it can be made ‘on the cheap’. Talented movie makers are two a penny. I have a movie camera…Fid has a story…Professor Healy has the evidence..Truthman is a man of truth and 1BOM…might want to be the movie strategist…….
    Am I delusional…been there, done that, got the T-shit (oops).
    We have to do something…..anybody got any better ideas?
    Bravery means pulling together….we are doing that….finally…..sharing our stuff.
    White stuff, blue stuff, yellow…stuff.
    Meesta Healy, this is your blog. Have we the courage of our convictions to pull off a massive coup. Are GSK reading our words…….?

  2. “GSK are a lot scarier than the Catholic Church.”

    Without getting into a religious debate, the Catholic Church have stood by for years and allowed this to happen.

    God, if you believe in him, created man, apparently he gave us free will. When one takes these types of meds all free will is lost. Do the Catholic Church not understand this?

    I have a photograph of former GSK Head of Psychiatry Alistair Benbow. He proudly stands side by side the Pope.

    Be nice if the Catholic Church would speak out about the antidepressant/suicide link. Sadly, I think GSK got in there first.

    Here’s the photograph –


    I finally get to meet my maker…..I have never seen an interview with The Chancellor of Nottingham University….impressive?

    Interesting. Watching him talk marketing babble, a bit like Parker, he talks at length without drawing breath and is in a ‘world of his own’. You can see all the trademarks of a marketing professional. The tilts of the head, the clear focussed look in his eyes, the relentless propaganda about GSK and his mission to put Apollo on Mars….with pills.

    He looked serious, he looked straight into the camera and he uttered the one word that would get God on His Side – the word – humility.

    Let’s not underestimate this man, he has worked himself up as a Knight.
    He is a masterclass of rhetoric.
    He blindly goes where no man has gone before…to the moon!
    Hey, Astronauts, are you listening….?

    Funnily, enough, I was prepared to like Sir Andrew Witty. I don’t know why, really. After all, he nearly killed me and put me in a caravan and made my daughter sick with fear, but, I really thought he might be a bit softer…

    This man is as hard as a rock on Mars, and I feel eerily unsettled after watching the Forbes interview.

    I expect your wife, Caroline, and your two children are very proud of you running the London Marathon.

  4. Anne-Marie says:

    Annie I think it would be good to have a visual/audio simulator filmed from a sufferers experience. When I listen to Chris Rea’s road to hell I can actually feel what I and other have gone through with SSRIS and Alcohol and It would visually be something similar to werewolf in London and that’s not an exaggeration either.


    Ad nauseum, The Guardian are not letting our topic go.

    I actually telephoned Sarah Boseley, Health Editor, around 2003, when all the papers were alive with the sounds of Seroxat and suicide. I couldn’t pick up a paper around 2002/2003 without a Seroxat suicide.

    She was nice, she was sympathetic, but there was nothing she could do.

    At least The Guardian talk about anti-depressants, in an informed and researched way, as opposed to the Daily Mail telling you to take an anti-depressant from anything from wrinkles, to tiredness to almost anything trivial that you can think of.

    I suppose this article is helpful.
    I suppose their questionnaire is helpful.
    I suppose eventually ‘someone’ will write the definitive article……….in……. The Guardian.


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