Editorial Note: This is the third part of a talk giving to the BNPA on February 22. It follows on from Tweeting While Psychiatry Burns and Tweeting While Medicine Burns. The final group of slides are HERE.
The talk you have just heard was first given in Toronto on Thursday November 30 2000 to mark the 75 anniversary of the University Dept and 150 anniversary of the Queen Street Mental Hospital (Slide 1). The Chads were still hanging in Florida while the Supreme Court tried to decide whether Bush or Gore had won.
I had recently been hired by the University of Toronto and I and a number of others had been invited to contribute to a meeting to celebrate the occasions.
I led off the program with the talk pretty much as you’ve heard it. The word for word original is HERE.
One of the other speakers was this dude – Charles Nemeroff. Nemeroff was quite happy at this point in time to be featured as the Boss of Bosses (Slide 2). He wasn’t the boss of bosses because of any scientific or clinical contribution of which there was none.
In line with these Mafia connotations, at the meeting Nemeroff approached one of the key people involved in my hiring and suggested they get rid of Healy. According to Nemeroff later, this individual wet his pants. The University later claimed my colleagues were disturbed by the talk and would have found it difficult to work with me. They also claimed Healy had said Antidepressants cause Suicide which was like crying Fire in a crowded theater.
The talk was as you’ve heard it. It was a talk about lack of access to data not about antidepressants and suicide. It was the plot of a book then in press – The Creation of Psychopharmacology (Slide 3). Harvard University Press don’t do wild or off the wall.
My talk received the highest rating on the day by the audience which seems at odds with later university claims. Nemeroff was the lowest (Slide 4). His talk was largely an advert for paroxetine (Paxil – Seroxat) and how it was more of an SNRI than people thought which didn’t seem particularly appropriate for the occasion, but perhaps interesting in that he seemed to be thinking about being an expert for GSK in the forthcoming Tobin trial.
Nemeroff flew to New York that Thursday night. The following morning, Friday, at a Suicide Prevention meeting he told colleagues that Healy had lost his job.
Unaware of any of this, I flew to New York on Friday morning and that afternoon was a few blocks away from Nemeroff. Neither he nor I knew this. I was in Pfizer’s archives where even the loo paper was marked confidential. Articles in the public domain for years were stamped confidential.
But extraordinarily this document wasn’t (Slide 5). This page comes from a portfolio of articles on Pfizer’s Zoloft. covering the writing of articles on Zoloft for ingrown toenails, for anxiety, for the elderly, for the young and how it was cheaper than older treatments that cost only a fraction of its price. This page shows you that there were two articles on PTSD being ghostwritten for leading journals. The articles were written, the journals selected, the company just had to decide on who the authors were going to be. TBD stands for To Be Determined.
Based on this portfolio of articles we were later able to show that heading toward 100% of articles in the peer reviewed literature on on-patent drugs are ghostwritten. In 100% of cases there is lack of access to the data. This is true across medicine. It applies to respiratory, neurology and cardiac medicine as much as to psychiatry.
What it means is that for instance the NICE guidelines which are based on these articles are Junk. Complete and utter junk. But increasingly our trainees and everyone else are trapped by Guidelines like these. We will lose our jobs if we don’t adhere to them. This is what has led to the opioid epidemic in the US.
A few days after I gave this talk, I was informed that I had lost my job – I wasn’t a good fit and the department would lose money.
Over the last sixteen years when visiting the US, I have been struck at what can only be called a Medical McCathyism. Everyone in healthcare is scared to open their mouths. While the average American is probably still prepared to stand up for themselves than the average European, when it comes to doctors at times it feels like the land of the craven and the home of the slave. Just last week, however, the President of Royal College of Surgeons in Britain made a case that medicine in Britain is heading exactly the same way.
Pretty soon after this talk, the worry has to be most of us in the US, UK and Europe are going to lose our jobs – at least going to lose the kind of jobs many of us thought we were taking up when we entered the field.
If the drugs are as effective as we are told and as free from side effects as we are told, you can replace high cost prescribers with nurses, pharmacists and pretty soon with robots. This is in fact happening quite rapidly.
In the 16 years from 1952 to 1968 the world changed in astonishing ways. In the 16 years since I first gave this talk, it seems to have changed almost as much again.
So when some future historian in a very few years from now, looks back at this period and wonders about the senior figures in the field – the Jean Delays (Slide 6) – in the UK they will have Sir before their name – will say they say it was a time when the field’s significant figures tweeted while psychiatry burned?
The slides here changed from the original 2000 slides at two points. The weighing scales slide is now in color. In 2000 it was black and white. And the Risk Hammer now replaces a Hamburger – hamburgers were scary images in 2000 with BSE.
The original words are HERE.
Later on Monday, the day of posting, Barney Carroll emailed this comment and the article that goes with the photo of the Boss.
I stumbled upon this photograph on Twitter today, courtesy of David Healy. It’s a pair with the classic fawning article about Nemeroff, which I will attach as well. The article is written by James LaRossa who bought the rights to Psychopharmacology Bulletin in the mid to late 1990s and then hired Nemeroff to turn it into a vehicle for infomercials. These bring back such fine memories!
Boss of Bosses Charles B Nemeroff, MD, PhD
Charlie Nemeroff is sitting quietly at the speaker’s table, ignoring the bustle going on around him. His face betrays nothing – neither boredom, nor interest, or apprehension. Only the blinking of his eyes distinguish him from a statue. When he hears his name he rises very slowly, and begins to move to the lectern with deliberate strides, gathering speed as he goes, brightening now. He breaks into a grin and begins speaking the minute he approaches the microphone and, before the hush of the room takes hold, he has won the crowd with a disarming and deliberate manner that cuts simply to the heart of the most complex issues in neuropsychiatry.
Charles B Nemeroff, MD, PhD, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, finds himself addressing a room of crowded colleagues hundreds of times each year. Even in the ultra-competitive world of medicine and academia, Nemeroff is admittedly the most coveted academic speaker in psychiatry in the United States. His prolific authorship (he has published 600 research reports and reviews) along with a sheer enormity of research grants, awards, and scientific board appointments, has afforded him unprecedented celebrity within the psychiatric community.
Nemeroff’s academic and intellectual largess translates to a small and influential group of close friends, including fellow department chairmen Alan Schatzberg (Stanford), Marty Keller (Brown), Dwight Evans (U. Penn), Bob Hirschfeld (U. of Texas, Galveston) and NIMH heavyweight Dennis Charney, all of whom spend a great deal of professional and personal time together. Psychiatry is a highly charged topic these days, and these six thought leaders walk a fine line between controversy and political correctness, often made possible by their strong allegiances both to topics and to one another.
The ethics surrounding the implementation of placebo-control trials is one of psychiatry’s most supercharged political issues, as is addressed in more detail in this issue of TEN. “From a scientific point of view, the best data on efficacy of any treatment is best derived from placebo-controlled trials,” Nemeroff says. But with diseases like cancer and stroke, placebo trials become unethical. Thus, “the FDA in most cases has allowed for comparison between novel treatments for devastating disorders with traditional already-approved treatments.” If a novel agent proves efficacious against an existing agent, it gets approved. But “that has not been the case in psychiatry. And we have to raise questions about the use of placebo in conditions like mania, where patients are terribly ill. [In these cases] one wonders why it isn’t sufficient to have evaluation based on ‘just-as-good-as’ or ‘better-than’ currently available treatments and better side effect profile.”
Nemeroff is among the most coveted advisors to the pharmaceutical industry. Predictably, rumors about his alliances, or lack thereof, abound. It is safe to say that his views are expressed in a forceful manner he is a passionate person and he fully expects to lead the corporate strategy of those he advises. Those who do not heed his advice are often recipients of his wrath. Consequently, Nemeroff is often in favor with the most successful drug makers, since those firms are doing the lion’s share of research, which he often directs.
Privately, Nemeroff is circumspect about the role between private and public funding. Working with industry can “be a win-win. There is a shared vision but also separate mission. The university mission is a troika: research, teaching, clinical service; whereas the pharmaceutical industry [mission is to] discover new drugs and to market them effectively. Sometimes those goals are simpatico and sometimes they’re not.” As an example of a situation where industry funding works to the benefit of the scientific community, Nemeroff recounts a new teaching council that he started recently with a grant from Janssen called The Young Faculty Development Program, where young professors get the opportunity to learn about clinical issues and academic life. And he talks also about the differences he sees between today’s young clinicians and those of his generation. ”In the past, there was a clear schism between psychoanalytically oriented psychiatrists and so-called biological psychiatrists. Today, this mindframe dualism seems silly… Patients of course have both minds and brains.” The fact of the matter is that psychosocial factors… can certainly affect how the brain functions and we also know that the brain itself changes. The nature/nurture controversy is really no controversy, as we’ve improved our understanding of the brain.”
The Bronx-NY-born Nemeroff is most content being both a researcher and a physician. As an example, he recounts a part of the very day of this phone interview. “[Earlier today] I saw four patients, one on emergency consult; at the same time, I was dealing with a number of issues related to an NIMH grant of the psychobiology of early trauma. What can be better than being a teacher and a researcher and a physician?”
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“One of the disturbing features of clinical practice and academic research is that there seems to be a lack of historical memory. Both academics and practitioners often fail to see that we have been here before and what the likely outcome of the story will be. This applies across the board through issues of dependence on drugs through to the latest hoopla about some breakthrough drug.”
Carolyn • 4 years ago
From personal experience Dr Healy is indeed on the side of those who
have “died or been irreparably harmed”. When I was trying to find
answers to my daughter’s death, Dr Healy’s name kept coming up in the
literature I was reading. I wrote to Dr Healy not really expecting an
answer as I was a complete stranger living on the other side of the
world, but he replied immediately. Since that time (2003) Dr Healy has
given me much help with my medical questions and research; as well as
giving his support, encouragement and compassion. He will always have my
deep gratitude and respect.
“Thank you kindly for your time, but more importantly, thank you for your willingness to advocate for patients and to be a voice on their behalf with respect to their medication related concerns!
“Recent history suggests that undoing some of that regulation to put more power in the hands of doctors might not be a great move for patients.”
“It could have been worse,” said Gregg Gonsalves, a Yale research scholar. “We could have had a saber-toothed tiger guarding the henhouse like Jim O’Neill, and instead we [may get] a garden-variety fox at the helm.”
One thing is certain, Gonsalves added: “Unlike many Trump nominees, he’s actually highly qualified to destroy the agency he’s meant to lead.”
Sir00xat explained…take your pick..
Mind Control! It starts early! The end of a profession that only has itself to blame.
Nemeroff seems to be a Napoleon of the psychiatric world. If one reads Dr Doug Bremner’s enlightening, almost coded book, called ‘The Goose that killed the Golden Egg’, you can see what Nemeroff did to him. Dr Bremner nearly lost his living, his family, his academic status at Emory, thanks to Nemeroff. All because he had the temerity to show the proof that Accutane was causing deaths and psychosis. Like you say, Dr Healy, the world is changing so radically that Napoleons like Nemeroff can get away with these things. Rather like the Divine Right of Kings. Time for the revolution, surely?
Thanks for such an interesting trilogy of posts. Even more interesting was to find that we’d been reading the very words that upset so many those 16 years ago. Selfishly, I can only say that I am extremely grateful that they took a strong dislike to your truths!
What happened then was, of course, so wrong in very many ways – not least that the word of one man was able to change the course of another’s life – affecting not only that person but the lives of his whole family too. Unfortunately, that fact is also true in the case of many of us who read these posts. We are either the ones whose life course was disrupted or a member of their family.
I would like to think that the way that you have continued to speak out, despite the criticisms, has helped many to continue their fight for better mental health – not only for themselves but for others too. In fact, I’m sure of it. We would not be where we are today if you had taken the soft option and prepared a lecture on a ‘safe’ topic for Toronto.
What of the future? The future does not merely depend on a ‘change from the top’ ( as much as that is needed) – in my opinion, a change has to come in each layer of society. Respect – of the self and then of others – is all but lost at the moment. That loss upsets the natural balance of interactions – resulting in a massive rise in unhappiness. Unhappy people become self-centred – they search for their lost ‘pleasures’, mostly in the wrong places. They search for a greater wealth, a better standard of living, up-to-date tech gadgets – in the hope of a return to happier times. As they fail them, they turn to alcohol and street drugs – again without success. Eventually, they turn to their doctors. The VERY lucky few, will, at last find the path to a better state of mind. The majority, however, fail in this attempt too. We all know the possible consequence of being let down yet again.
The saying is that ‘life is for living’. If we took this as our motto and worked to make everyone’s life a little better, isn’t there a chance that eventually psychiatrists could get on with their work of helping the psychiatrically sick and leave the rest of us to support the needs of the psychologically sick? We are not able to prescribe and neither (in most cases) are psychologists, therefore the amount of prescriptions for psychiatric drugs would immediately drop. I find this idea preferable to seeing nurses, pharmacists and even robots adding more to the already high number of prescriptions issued!
I Google the company mentioned in the document in slide 5. Current Medical Directions inc. Discribes itself as a medical education company. Sudler & Hennessey is one of the world’s leading healthcare communications firms, developing strategic promotional and educational programmes for a broad array of healthcare brands. I guess research is a form of brand promotion.
It does seem as if you have to do something quite dastardly to get a knighthood these days.
This comment sums it up, and not just in the US: “Over the last sixteen years when visiting the US, I have been struck at what can only be called a Medical McCathyism. Everyone in healthcare is scared to open their mouths. While the average American is probably still prepared to stand up for themselves than the average European, when it comes to doctors at times it feels like the land of the craven and the home of the slave.”
I’m very wary of doctors now, do these handmaidens of the pharmaceutical industry deserve our trust?
I feel that we should be wary of tarring all with the same brush. Trust has to be earned – and that works both ways. Trust can only be gained where there is respect – and that , too, has to work both ways. Gone are the days when we, as patients, can trust every word uttered by a doctor – we are now in a situation where we need to question and refuse, if we feel the need, any medication offered. Maybe that is not our natural way of behaving with those who we expect to help and guide us – but the world has moved on. By questioning and listening, in a respectful two-way conversation, trust can be regained. The greatest barrier to this is neither the doctors nor their prescriptions, to be honest, – but the short time allowed for each appointment. That has created an unbearable situation and doctors failed to realise that patients would not take kindly to being sent off with a prescription rather than a discussion. The ample supply of different drugs must have seemed a godsend to the prescriber when first made available – it was left to patients to realise that it was the devil that had its handprint on many of them, despite the details that attempted to make them sound otherwise.
Mary, a doctor’s primary responsibility is the well-being of their individual patients/clients. But now people are increasingly being treated as ‘a herd’, with the imposition of questionable lucrative medical tests and interventions across the board. My particular interest is vaccination and I look on in horror at the ever-increasing number of vaccine products which are being imposed on the community, particularly children. Of course I can understand the desire to control infectious diseases, but this idea of a ‘magic bullet’ to prevent all ailments is getting completely out of hand, and has been hijacked by vested interests. We are sorely in need of independent and objective infectious diseases experts who can consider the ‘big picture’ on this, particularly the problems that are now emerging with the use of vaccine products, e.g. disease occurring in vaccinated individuals, such as mumps.
Blimey – I was completely gripped by the first two posts – which I thought were a look back at the historical and social context in which these drugs were developed. Now I’m gobsmacked – they were The Speech. The one that got Healy sacked back in 2000.
Seventeen years ago – and now we can all contribute to Rxisk, and report side effects and all the rest.
In 2000 I was mostly in hospital – either a mental hospital, out of my mind, literally, with a brew of antidepressants, mood stabilisers and antipsychotics. Or in Addenbrookes recovering from the latest suicide attempt. Fast forward to 2012. I had my mind back but my body wasn’t doing too well, post drugs. No longer living in Cambridge – but I’d met up with my old CPN, who’d always been great. She said ‘There’s a guy who’s been going on about the damage these drugs can do for years…can’t remember his name but he’s Irish. Got sacked from a Canadian University years back for saying all this’.
That led me to David and Rxisk and all the rest….so it’s quite a moment for me.
You are so right Sally – when we look at the whole picture, it is surprising how far along the road we have moved over the last few years since Rxisk was formed to facilitate matters.
In 2002, as I’ve said here before, we were told about David’s work re:- Seroxat – but only when it was too late for him to support Shane’s case in court. You were told in 2012 about David’s work – but didn’t get his name. In those 10 years then, very little progress had been made in being able to publicise his findings. Now, as we start 2017, things are moving on – thanks to RxISK. I wonder, though, would those working in MH be any more willing to name David than they were in 2002 or 2012? – or is their memory lapse their security in not showing their hand totally in the support of his work? One thing is for sure – RxISK comments leave no-one in any doubt of our allegiance to the whole team’s fantastic work.
I should point out that my ex CPN genuinely couldn’t recall David’s name – but she remembered enough for google to identify him. I don’t think there is any ‘collective amnesia’ amongst MH nurses. Like all things it’s complicated. But I can tell you that Psychiatric Drugs Explained 6th edition by one Professor Healy is the textbook used down here by MH nurses in training…so they are aware of the name and if they follow his cautious and careful approach to medication then that’s something? Anyway, back in 2012 no amount of googling about medication side effects produced Rxisk. Now it’s right up there at the top. So there have been significant improvements in accessing information during the past five years.
Excellent news! Here, roughly 30 miles from DH ‘home base’, nursing staff, home care team members, care coordinators etc. tend to give you the ‘heard the name but know nothing about him’ phrase when his name is mentioned. Maybe we are too close for comfort!
No one responding seems to believe that some anti-depressants work well, unsurprising given David Healy’s views. I have been enormously helped by Venlafaxine, and the sole negative side effect is a tendency to buy too many silk scarves.
So many people seem to hang their whole life on the antidepressant which they have been prescribed ( I would have been a great novelist if I hadn’t taken zoloft. and so on).
I realise that some people have been medically damaged by mistaken treatment, but that is also true of therapy.
Perhaps you can explain what you think David Healy’s views are.
A fitting quote that we could all do well to take on board in these troubling times :-
NOTHING is more important than EMPATHY for another human being’s suffering. NOTHING. Not a career, not wealth, not intelligence, CERTAINLY NOT STATUS.
We have to feel for one another if we’re going to survive with dignity.
– Audrey Hepburn
Wonderful exchanges here between contributors, particularly what Mary has written. Absolutely bang on the money.
All our lives are complex, and there are parts which as Mary says, need psychological support from those around us and other serious elements for which we can be greatly helped by doctors who listen, empathise and use skill to help us through difficult days.
I watched TVs ‘GPs Behind Closed Doors’ yesterday evening and felt irritated and frustrated. Not with the GPs, but with some of the patients. The first one, a man who seemed laid back as though he’d just come for a neighbourly chat with the sympathetic lady GP about the health of his dog, and how he was not feeling great about his life. He didn’t seem pro-active at all and expected her to improve his social life for him. As he left, the doctor did say to him ‘you are still taking your medication aren’t you?’ This could have been for blood pressure or could have been antidepressants, she didn’t say. What I felt he needed was friendly interaction with his community. At the end, a comment on the screen did say he had resolved some issues with his neighbours.
Other patients were focused and definitely in need of help, like a young woman who found a breast lump. Seeing this programme gives us insight into a GPs average Surgery Time. Like Mary has said, it’s horses for courses. Doctors cannot sort out trivia and disappointment in people’s lives but they should be allowed time to use their training and insight for serious need, like Sally describes. To do this, owing to the chronic shortness of time allowed for consultation, carers/relatives could contribute more background info, observed reactions to medications etc, to help build the complete picture, if the patient would like their support and input. Sometimes if in the midst of an ADR, maybe the information has to be volunteered without their permission, but the doctor at least can listen and weigh up the value of it.
The doctor surely becomes a doctor to make a difference to lives attacked by illness, not to sort out things which we are capable of actively dealing with ourselves. So, again like Mary said, mutual respect is vital to make this work. This is serious stuff.
I apologise for introducing a comment not directly related to thus string, but I feel it’s terribly important and does relate to several previous strings about skin, as well as picking up the Audrey Hepburn quote from Mary – ‘NOTHING is more important than EMPATHY for another human being’s suffering.’ I guess also, Nemeroff is linked into what follows, indirectly, because of his manipulative input, which then had the effect of stopping Emory psychiatrist Dr Doug Bremner’s research on Accutane (RoAccutane) becoming accepted by the FDA and MHRA.
Today, Thursday between 9.45 and 11.00 am Victoria Derbyshire BBC2 – a programme looking at TWO major issues: Acne, and PTSD for army veterans and the Government’s cutting of benefits for anxiety sufferers etc.
The first, a report on ACNE, presented partly by a young reporter, I think linked to BBC Newsbeat. We’ve talked on this Blog about bias many times. The three medical experts on the panel who had the last word, were all promoting RoAccutane/isotretinoin as the drug of last resort, implying that the current shortage of dermatologists is the main problem, and that the wait for getting a referral to one, and thence to getting RoAccutane, is unacceptable. AT NO POINT did anyone let slip that this drug was a chemotherapy drug designed to shrink brain tumours. Side effects were given by the dermatologist as being ‘dry lips, dry skin, dry eyes’, then, quickly….’and there are some rare side effects, like headache, muscle ache’, then onto ‘if you get pregnant you will need a termination as the birth defects are so horrendous, and of course the psychological effect of the termination can be very upsetting for all concerned.’
I remember Leonie Fennell’s speech about her son Shane, admittedly not due to RoAccutane but to an SSRI, but she said, ‘beware the Distracting Hand’. I think we saw evidence of the Distracting Hand this morning. We saw pictures of the skin terribly disfigured by acne of many people. We saw, in the case of a mother and son, how it can be genetic (as it was for me and my son). Then we saw the ‘miracle’ of RoAccutane on the face of the beautiful young BBC presenter. She only stopped RoAccutane a month ago (mind you) and she said she lives in fear of its returning. At no point did we hear anything about low mood, depression, sexual dysfunction, suicidal ideation, or actual deaths from suicide.
Some comments which came in from viewers which were read out quickly by Victoria – some had tried RoAccutane several times and it hadn’t worked for them, some had had the acne come back far worse than before they took RoAccutane once they stopped using it, one on the advice of their School Nurse had tried giving up sugar for 6 weeks and the acne stopped totally, some had found ‘expensive lotions from USA which worked’ and one found a plant based product called Accumax which worked without side effects. At no point did any presenter or experts on the Programme make mention of the possible link between gut and skin, apart from the sugar reference from the one viewer. The young presenter squashed that one firmly by saying she tried that, and giving up dairy, and it made no difference. I think ROCHE who made RoAccutane will be delighted with the slant of this programme. Victoria said they have had massive response to their BBC Newsbeat Report. I wish we could get the other side of the story told, and also wake the world up to seeing that, yes, this IS indeed a life changing issue for young people afflicted with bad acne, and therefore we need to find a way of treating it that DOESNT carry with it the chance of really dire side effects. It did strike me that we are coming up to the 18th March, the end of the month during which some of us have been using our collective thoughts to join with the Universe to ask that drug prescribing be done more carefully and with more enlightenment. Could it be that something has got under ROCHE’s skin, and that out of the blue, this programme has appeared? Or am I just a skeptic?
The other issue on the Programme, about PTSD for army veterans, got little air time, but did seem to be benefitting from Prince Harry’s involvement and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s interest in mental health, and the various helping agencies shining a light on it. I always felt that our son had PTSD from the school bullying relating to his acne, and PTSD is life changing too. No one from the Government would come on the programme to comment on cutting financial benefits for PTSD/mental illness sufferers, although several were approached, according to Victoria.
I too watched the VIctoria Derbyshire programme that you mention. I felt it was disgustingly one-sided. Once or twice, I felt that a few truths were about to be uttered – but nothing came forth. I felt that comments had been tampered with and tailored to suit requirements! I found the praise for Roaccutane quite sickening actually. The list of MPs who had, apparently, been asked to comment on the Benefits issue was laughable. Have these people forgotten that they are public servants? The weakest V Derbyshire programme to date in my opinion!
Thanks for your endorsement about the Victoria Derbyshire programme Mary. I was very surprised that they screened it, out of the blue, and as it started I was full of hope that it was going to be really balanced. We had an important meeting that morning but when we saw this programme start, we rang to re-schedule it, feeling that we could not afford to miss whatever was going to be revealed. Well, glad we saw it, but in the subtlest of ways, it was a wonderful promotion for RoAccutane-isotretinoin. I’d dearly love to know who suddenly decided to screen the BBC Newsbeat Acne Report, in front of BBC2 V.Derbyshire viewers at this particular prime time moment Could interested Pharma parties have engineered this? Ridiculous as it seems, one can’t help but just wonder…..
Our little Group of ‘bereaved by RoAccutane’ parents had just been recently begun working out how to mark the 3 year anniversary of our Anti RoAccutane Protest of 24.4.14, and also, Jack Bowlby on 2.3.17 who would have been happily celebrating his 21st birthday with his family, (but for RoAccutane taking his life when only 16 instead), had had 5,456 views on Facebook of the candle we lit for him and literally dozens and dozens of comments from those who knew and loved him. This was all clearly on view during the last three weeks on the Facebook site of ‘Olly’s Friendship Foundation’, and will be there permanently, as well as our very recent post there about the issue of Thalidomide being accented on BBC’s recent ‘Call the Midwife’ episode, and likening our Group of parents to those in the 1960s who fought for 50 years to make the world fully aware of the dangers of that drug, prescribed for anxiety and morning sickness in pregnancy. Also clear to read, on that same Facebook site, my long and detailed factual speech to a large group of residents and official funders about the impact RoAccutane had made on Olly’s previously focused life, (stressing the hell of the resulting AKATHISIA and additional prescribed SSRI Seroxat) at the opening ceremony of the ‘Olly Friendship Room’ and renovation of a church he had been involved with. The main purpose of this OFR Centre is to foster community care for each other, particularly anyone suffering anxiety, whatever causes it, be it RoAccutane, psychotropic medications, Aspergers, a heavy load of life’s stresses, etc etc. by using distraction, good company, compassion, learning creative skills, just caring for each other. You can see pictures of it, opened on Olly’s birthday, on the Facebook site, and if you have the patience of Job, you can read my speech. Trawl back through that site and see all the lanterns and candles lit for all our Group’s lost children. Lanterns lit for the days they died, surrounded by little vignette scenes of things they loved, glass votives of lit candles to celebrate their would-have-been birthdays, in their favourite colours. We loved them all SO much, and always will.
A little niggling thought at the back of my mind now just makes me wonder if, tiny and virtually powerless as our Group and community may be perceived to be, Big Brother ROCHE Pharma is watching us and could actually be getting a bit rattled? And don’t forget folks, we were still in the 18th Feb to 18th March timeframe when this happened….those of you who were participating in this will understand. More interesting news on the results of that shortly 🙂 …..
I’m not using flattery when I say this talk is too brilliant for a world in desperate need of it. I find myself wishing it were more widely read and thoroughly understood. Maybe in a future lifetime if there are any. The “boss of bosses” understood it, though. Right off the bat.
In the USA ..
*I was in Pfizer’s archives where even the loo paper was marked confidential. Articles in the public domain for years were stamped confidential.*
Mary Newton March 15, 2017 at 10:09 pm
It would be interesting to know what experience/s turned you against excessive pharmacology and made you so different from many of your peers. Any comments?
At any rate, keep up the good work!
Peer-Reviewed Journal Publications
1. Creaney W, Murray I, Healy D (1991). Antidepressant induced suicidal ideation. Human Psychopharmacology, 6, 329-332.
Antidepressant Induced Suicidal Ideation W. CREANEY, I. MURRAY and D. HEALY” Academic Unit, North Wales Hospital, Denbigh, Clwyd LL16 SSS
KEY words-Fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, suicidal ideation, akathisia. dissociation
“ The emergence of suicidal ideation on antidepressants may highlight the fact that when given in clinical situations, there are potentially two sorts of side effects of psychotropic compounds. There are those that are clearly side effects, such as dry mouth or difficulties with mic-turition and those that may be interpreted as either side effects or as worsening of the illness. The latter include increased nervousness and restlessness and dissociative reactions such as depersonalisation, de-realisation and even hallucinations.
If suicidal ideation can arise consequent on a misattribution of drug induced changes, it should be possible to prevent all such suicides.
But if such a mechanism is upheld, there may in the future be implications regarding potential medical negligence in the case of subjects committing suicide, while taking almost any currently available psychotropic compound.”
HUMAN PSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY, VOL. 6,329-332 (1991)
Accepted 1st August 1991
KEY WORDS- Archives Loo Paper Marked Confidential Articles Public Stamped
TBD stands for .. To Be Determined
In the UK ..
TBD stands for To Be .. Determined
“the NICE guidelines which are based on these articles are Junk. Complete and utter junk.”
In reply to Sarah Wollaston MP
AntiDepAware @AntiDepAware 54m54 minutes ago
.@sarahwollaston @CommonsHealth Without any acknowledgement of the Pharma-sized elephant in the room, your report is irrelevant
Published on 16 March 2017 by authority of the House of Commons
Drug treatments and suicide
17. We urge the Government to ensure that NICE guidelines on the appropriate use of drug treatments for depression are promoted and implemented by clinicians. (Paragraph 66)
Burn, Baby, Burn!
I also recall enduring the semi-illiterate wrath in 2010 of the mighty Orac – Dr David Gorski – of Science blogs for pointing out the Prof Stephen Scherer, the senior author of a genetics paper on autism held a GSK sponsored chair at Toronto. That was apparently really below the belt.
At the time (just as the GMC hearing against Wakefield and colleagues concluded) the Guardian ran what was supposed to be an open ended blog inspired by the publication of the paper which was to mark the the on going triumph of genetics as an explanation of autism, but they gave up in despair after a month. These days they are not so keen on throwing their reports open to public debate.
Enormous thanks to Bob Fiddaman for his day to day reporting on the Dolin v GSK trial in Chicago. As he raises a glass to Stewart Dolin today, we raise one to our beloved son Olly, who also died because of Seroxat (Paxil). Aged 21 when he started taking it, (following RoAccutane-induced ‘low mood’ – and low mood doesn’t kill you, folks) he was pitchforked into a hellish life of background confusion and self blame, but carried on for 11 years bravely trying to get his brain to switch on its happiness button again. A friend came to visit us yesterday, one who had known him well, especially in the last few months of his life. We talked of how much his dad and I miss him, but if we really profess to love him, have to be thankful the pain and mental torture he suffered, is over for him, even though we are left without him, and so we can only go on by trying to take forward his projects to help others like him. We said ‘he was the light of our life’ and our friend added, ‘ he lit up the lives of ALL those he met and engaged with.’ To learn today what Bob has revealed about GSK and the fact that they KNEW how likely these drugs were to kill people like Olly (and Annie, and others like them on this Blog) makes us incandescent with fury and sadness, all rolled into one. How DARED they do this! How do they justify their lies and cover ups? How do they live with their consciences, or do they just not have any sense of right and wrong?
Thank you Bob for keeping us posted, and well done DH and Dr David Ross.
With reference to Bob’s report today on the progress of the Dolin v GSK trial, I feel desperate to get across to the makers of Paxil/Seroxat, that AKATHISIA is hell on earth for the sufferer, and terrifying for the family/carers/friends to witness, because if they are anything like us, they won’t know what AKATHISIA is and will be trying to soothe the desperately agitated relative, who is obviously in great pain, shaking, rushing up and down the room, totally out of character, and looking as though they have gone totally out of their minds. Our son’s AKATHISIA began not long after stopping the drug. He had never ever behaved like this before. He was a brilliant A-star Biological Sciences student at a top UK university, well balanced, calm, kind, empathic, enormously respected by his professors and fellow students. RoAccutane foe his acne caused low mood. Seroxat/Paxil for the low mood caused a dreadful deterioration into AKATHISIA and constant suicidal ideation, for which he begged to go into hospital as he felt he might end his life. He was not there long, because apart from the AKATHISIA and feelings of unreality, fear etc, he was intermittently logical and holding onto hope that this would pass. It didn’t. He suffered for 11 long years, and so did we, his parents, watching his agony, which no one seemed to take seriously in the medical profession. He kept busy, he worked hard, he tried to hide the hell he was suffering but we knew, and agonised over what on earth to do to help him. We even got a mini trampoline so he could bounce up and down, but nothing helped. Now, of course, we understand. Too late to help him though. He died believing he was a mad, weak person.
Watching the progress of this reported Chicago trial, Olly’s dad and I are feeling incandescent with fury. And sorrow, for the suffering he was subjected to by Paxil/Seroxat, the loss of him to his lovely girlfriend who never knew ‘the real him’ pre-Seroxat, but loved him as he was, for 9 years, and tried, like us, to give him hope. It’s ‘Mothering Sunday’ in UK this weekend. She tries to do what he would have done, remembering us with little cards and gifts. We weep with the terrible missing of him, especially at these times. I wonder if GSK can possibly imagine what families like us have now to live with till we die – empty because of all the joy that has been lost, because of their wretched pills. I don’t suppose they are capable of empathy or sorrow. I’m afraid I regard them as evil unfeeling monsters, who must be driven purely by greed. Risking the ruin of thousands of lives like this is utterly senseless, however amazing the financial profits may be.
Sorry for the loss of your son.
The professionals who trick or force people to take these drugs are worse than street dealers. Their drugs are no safer either.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘We recognise that this is an emerging risk, which is why we are taking steps to better understand and tackle the harms caused by addiction to prescription drugs.’
Exposed: National disgrace as a quarter of a million patients are turned into DRUG ADDICTS by their doctors
MPs and peers present case for national prescribed drug helpline to Public Health England
A million patients are taking anti-depressants ‘they don’t really need’ fuelling growing epidemic of addiction to prescription medicines
*The meeting followed two years of work*
…’for a prescribed drug helpline’ …
“Your Life is Waiting”
By David Goetzl. Published on June 26, 2000
Your Life is Waiting
“Every marketer’s dream is to find an unidentified or unknown market and develop it.
That’s what we were able to do with social anxiety disorder,” says Barry Brand, the Paxil product director.
Mr. Brand, 36, and his team, launched a physician-targeted campaign in May soon after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration made Paxil the only approved product to treat social anxiety disorder. The move helped distinguish Paxil from other drugs in the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) category.”
“It seems a common courtesy to provide ..
A patient view of clinical trial transparency
Published on March 29, 2017
Chief Medical Officer (pharmaceuticals) GSK at GSK
“There are endpoints, ratios and numbers enough to confuse anyone but an informed scientist or physician.
GSKVerified account @GSK 14h
Next steps on #datatransparency? Our top doc Murray Stewart on using plain language to close the gap for patients: http://gsk.to/2nEoYYO
*was noted as used 7 x in ‘patient view’ ..
Richard Horton, editor of ‘The Lancet’, rightly expresses umbrage at how he has been personally manipulated by British American Tobacco (“Difficult truths about a post-truth world”).
But perhaps he can no longer see the other elephant in the room, because that particular elephant has managed to swallow the room wholesale…maybe it is just coincidence that this is to be published on April 1st.
#FlashbackFriday to 2008 when Andrew became our CEO. After a 32-year career here at GSK, he retires today. Goodbye… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…
Mandava @srmandava Mar 31
Replying to @GSK
Wish you all the best Mr.Witty and have good, peaceful and meaningful retired life useful for the society especially to pharma industry.
Pharma mold-breaker Witty turns over the reins after 9 years at the GSK helm
another arena in which Witty gets the last laugh.”
Mold, Reins, Helm.
Cold Comfort Pharm .. ?
Does anyone wonder how the GMC can completely miss the point with the case of a death of a sixteen year old from swallowing all the pills the gp prescribed
Isn’t it obvious that the GMC are giving Carte Blanche to any doctor who prescribes
Who are these ‘doctors of greater experience’?
“The GMC found that there was “compelling evidence” that doctors of greater experience would have acted in the same way. They ruled that a tribunal “would be unlikely to find her fitness to practise is currently impaired” and said that the case “should be closed with no action”.
When I was cold turkey Seroxat/Paroxetine/Paxil, when not depressed, and given hundreds of Propanolol along with ativan, valium, librium and the gp was told to give me Paroxetine liquid for a year at a few ml. reduction per month by a hospital pharmacist and the gp was unstoppable in her rejection of ‘drugs’ and pilloried us with abuse….how can you trust the GMC?
Burn, baby, burn is certainly a suitable anachronism for all those injured or dead from all these psychotropic drugs and the GMC has to be bypassed and we have to find a better way to channel the grievance and if anyone knows of one, please let me know ..
When all this burn, baby, burn stuff was going on enforcing the demise of any resemblance to normal family life, for us, as exemplary citizens, I could not fathom how they were obsessed with us, and I could not understand why they were not doing their job as doctors and instead seemed to be intent on a witch-hunt the likes of which was more cruel than had anything to do with their normal daily duties….
November 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm
The noose seems tight around dr Healy.
But good to see this peer Professor show his support, not only us who suffer from
poorly reasearched SSRI.
Even if the timeline shows alot of persecution, Healy has also been sticking his neck out by fighting for a juste cause. And many items on the early timeline is what we now know is true.
There must be more of Healys peers that could stand up and show support?
I wish you power, power, power!
Rumbles from Mordor ..
A question often raised on this Blog is ‘why do people seem unable to grasp that in many cases, psychotropic drugs are doing more harm than good. This week, at a meeting of a local Carers’ Group, to which we have belonged for about 14 years, in a very interesting discussion between members (about 25 present), the subject of individual response to medications came up. I mentioned the learning we have done over the past 4 and a half years since our son died, and how we could now well understand that he suffered AKATHISIA because, like me, he probably did not have the CYP450 enzyme and couldn’t metabolise certain medications. We were very surprised when a male Carer, father of a girl in her thirties diagnosed as bi- polar, launched a tirade of anger at me, saying ‘are you suggesting that people should not take antidepressants! ‘ and accusing me of saying something dangerous. I was very surprised by the furiously closed-minded attitude of this man. He said he would never dream of questioning anything his daughter’s psychiatrist said, ‘they are professionals they know best’ he insisted. His wife did intervene a little, taking down the tension. I insisted I was NOT saying no one should take antidepressants, but that if they exhibited AKATHISIA then this should be recognised and maybe the medication should be reconsidered as it might not suit. I tried to explain about locks fitting keys in terms of epigenetics and how we have all evolved differently. It didn’t abate his fury.
Afterwards I think, on reflection, I could see that the man put his absolute trust in psychiatrists and their drugs, and any suggestion that their absolute rightness could be questioned and found to be open for different opinion, shook him. I think he showed how so many frightened carers feel. ‘The doctor knows best’. And yet, another person, whose son has been ill for 20 years, chipped in in my defence and said that a locum psychiatrist, meeting him for the first time, has recently explained that his restlessness is AKATHISIA. There is thus hope for her son at last to be understand, after 20 years of no one realising. This brave lady and her family have been struggling to help and care for this young man for all those years!
She and I also discussed antipsychotic drugs in general. When her son was first ill, many years ago, she said that if given antipsychotics, patients were monitored at first in hospital, where there would be a bed for them because the drugs would render them in need of support. Nowadays those drugs are prescribed for many people who are wandering around in the community, sometimes not able to think straight, sometimes even being homeless, often with no one to care for them, friend or family. If we accept this, can we really call ourselves a civilised society? What happened to ‘Care in the Community’ or, as one well known critic (whose name escapes me) described it, ‘Couldn’t Care Less in the Community.’
We’d been hearing at this Carers’ meeting, about the Community First directive for WellBeing Hubs. These do sound interesting but are only for Primary Care, or for anyone not yet seriously mentally unwell. It is a signposting service, offering a Directory containing courses, self help groups, therapies, that self referring (or GP referred) patients can access. Personal budgets however cannot be applied (these can only be used in Secondary Care) so one assumes Charities and Voluntary Groups will be providing the care, courses etc, and the patient will pay for them themselves if a fee is charged. I think there will still be a long wait for talking therapies. It sounds however like a positive step forward, and hopefully because of it, less prescriptions will be written for antidepressants.
Richard Horton in 2008 (Annabel Ferriman “Royal college sets up working party to improve relations between doctors and drug industry”):
“The Royal College of Physicians has set up a joint working party with the drug industry to try to create a better relationship between doctors and drug companies, so as to improve the care of patients.
“The group, chaired by Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, is taking oral evidence from doctors and academics and representatives of the industry, medical journals, and regulators. It has also asked interested parties to submit written evidence by 31 March.
“In a letter inviting submissions Dr Horton and Ian Gilmore, the college’s president, say: “There are barriers perceived to exist between the industry, the NHS and academic medicine that inhibit a truly dynamic and productive relationship between the key players, working in the best interests of patients…”
Horton was also apparently comfortable with the fact that his boss at the time, Sir Crispin Davis, CEO of Reed Elsevier was also a director of GSK.
From reading the tale of the unfortunate 16 year old, we deduce that all doctors – of varying experience – are surely ENCOURAGED to prescribe these strong drugs to patients of any age and condition. We can believe no less than this as, according to the inexperienced doctor, the 16 year old did not present as being depressed. If that was the case, WHY, in the name of all that is good, DID SHE GIVE HER A PRESCRIPTION? Not just any prescription, but a month’s supply if my memory serves me right. This haphazard attitude by GPs MAKES MY BLOOD BOIL. A month’s supply in the hands of ANY 16 year old is disgraceful; without parental knowledge is disgusting and given to a youngster who’d gone along to express her worries about mental health issues – is criminal. I cannot see how any right-minded individual fails to recognise their wrongdoing in such a situation. Expert doctor or inexperienced – that is immaterial; simply ‘being human’ should be enough of a qualification to support one another on a better basis than this.
Brilliantly put Mary. Should ‘inexperienced doctors’ wear L plates then, and have their prescriptions double signed by their senior colleagues…what a totally ridiculous excuse for malpractice. Where is common sense and reason in this? Poor devastated parents, who like so many of us, trusted their GP. Doctors just do not seem to understand the blind faith so many people invest in them, and thus the tremendous Duty of Care that they take on when they qualify. Wake up folk, remember, doctors are just people like all of us, they are not infallible gods, so we need to question every treatment, be involved when we are carers, because we are on duty 24/7 and are at the end of the line when help is needed. We have to watch out for our loved ones, check and double check everything, communicate clearly, firmly and respectfully. Lives are at stake.