It tells the story of Lariam – mefloquine – a treatment to ward off malaria. A drug that for over 40 years has been causing suicides, homicides, depression, and a wide range of neurotoxic symptoms. There are many RxISK posts about Lariam – see Sanctuary Trauma.
But If You Wake is not just about Lariam and the problems it causes, it’s about the bureaucrats, FDA, EMA, MHRA and others who have blocked recognition of these problems, when recognition could have saved lives. Bureaucrats who have been perfidious in the way they have treated the families left behind or destroyed in the wake of Lariam induced problems who came to them looking for answers – thinking the regulators of medicines were an obvious first port of call.
Phrases like economical with the truth come to mind. Or the old joke: How do you know they’re lying – when their lips move. Perhaps updated now to – when their fingers touch a keyboard.
To many who came to them looking for help, Peter Marks of FDA, June Raine from MHRA or Guido Rasi of EMA can look like ministering angels. They are warm and sympathetic far removed you think from the juggling fiends Macbeth had to deal with it. But his words apply in spades here
Be these ministering angels no more believed that palter with us in a double sense. That keep the word of promise to our ear and break it to our hope.
Again, and Again, and Again, people damaged by Lariam, Isotretinoin, Finasteride, SSRIs, Antipsychotics, thinking they are being listened to by these ministering angels, instead have found and find and will find themselves gaslit, jilted, let down, betrayed.
And so it will be Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow to the last syllable of recorded time. See Harmatology.
If you Wake is also not just about Lariam, or ministering bureaucrats, it’s about Roche. Hoffman la Roche.
Up till recently we have had survivors of the Second World War present at ceremonies to celebrate a defeat of fascism. So too we have had a generation of people badly damaged by benzodiazepines, in particular Valium, aka diazepam. By the 1970s, Valium was the best-selling drug in the world and the boss of Roche, Adolf Jann, asked whether the company had any responsibility to the public said:
I would say no. Because it is in my opinion absolutely logical that my task, my responsibility is to develop Hoffman La Roche. And why are we doing that? We are doing it because it is absolutely clear that the only chance for the social security or social health service is to make economies by finding new drugs.
See Antidepressant Story at 19.31 if you want to see Jann get all worked up about this and thump the desk in front of him.
The people who were collateral damage in Roche’s Special Mission, don’t call it a War, were left to face Roche alone with no support from doctors or politicians or the media. They got nowhere. Their claims of harms were dismissed by the establishment – it was easy in those days before we had health pages in newspapers or anything to do with health on television to ignore people who had been harmed, who were even more invisible than now – See Nearly Invisible, Drug Traffic Accidents.
Recognition of the harms being caused by the benzodiazepines only came when the pharmaceutical companies developed a new generation of drugs that would make them more money than the old off-patent drugs. Companies sponsored academics like Malcolm Lader to do the benzos in and promote first of all Buspar and later the SSRIs – completely corrupting psychiatry in the process.
Lader and others seemed like good guys to many of Us. They may have been well-intentioned but just duped. Willing dupes – who knows?
The result was that many people now made a point of telling their doctors that they didn’t want anything dangerous like Valium or Ativan or drugs like that, drugs that could hook you, but they’d take Paroxetine, Fluoxetine, Sertraline instead – those happy pills, the ones that made you Better than Well.
Or doctors would point blank refuse to give Valium for fear of being struck off or sued Valium ended up widely regarded by doctors as more dangerous (to them) than Heroin. When the patent ran out Roche stopped marketing it. While lots of brand name companies were making money selling branded generics – life Pfizer selling Zoloft, Roche eliminated the word Valium. You could get diazepam but not Valium.
This too is leading to injuries because Diazepam and other benzodiazepines are often much safer and more appropriate than the SSRIs or antipsychotics or anticonvulsants people get given now.
Diazepam was a twentieth century War. Isotretinoin and Lariam were the Special Missions Roche embarked on after those injured by benzos, were rendered invisible. The dogs bark the caravan moves on.
Those whom Accutane (isotretinoin) has caused to kill themselves or others, or who have had their ability to make love wiped out by this drug will know exactly what Andrew Marriott and others working with him to bring the truth of Lariam to light have been through trying to get hold of documents they know to exist, trying to assist families at inquests into a death, trying to grapple with the double-speak of doctors and company people and bureaucrats.
A health warning is in order. Anyone who has been injured by a drug or lost a loved one to a drug should know, you are likely to feel homicidal reading If You Wake.
Another Circle of Hell
If You Wake has another circle of hell to it – not found with benzos or SSRIs.
Lariam is a military drug. It was developed by the US Military and did not go through the usual clinical trial or FDA approval process before being deployed for use and then handed over to Roche to commercialise it and get it used by you and me traveling to malaria risk zones. As the risks became clear, Roche began to scale back its use by you and me but the military, especially the British, Canadian and Australian military kept using it in Sierra Leone and West Africa as well as Afghanistan.
Accounts from soldiers bring out the horrific dreams, and the paranoia it caused, make it a racing certainty that some of the senseless acts of violence there have been, like soldiers running amok and wiping out innocent families and children, were caused by it.
The Americans decided this was definitely the case in Afghanistan. Even so, Marriott makes a strong case it was used in Guantanamo Bay by the Americans and British (yes you read that right) to break detainees down, some of whom appear to have been held not because of crimes committed but as guinea pigs in exercises to see whether Lariam could soften them up. Not just Guantanamo but Diego Garcia also.
There are telling vignettes. One name that crops up is Johnny Mercer whom RxISK readers will know from What’s a Life Worth and Once We Were Warriors. Mercer made a big deal about becoming a politician to help the comrades he had fought with. Those suffering from Lariam toxicity hoped for better things when they took their case to him. But like Tracey G found, he was all talk, all promise but bailed out when asked to do something.
In the Lariam case, he all of a sudden got a ministerial post, which rather than making it look like he was even better placed to help his comrades looks instead to have been a bribe to get him to keep his mouth shut.
One of the other features that came into play that lies in between the lines of the Lariam story is how the Army embraced – PTSD. The soldiers with dreams, who were depressed or suicidal, were told they had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, even if they had seen no action. They could get compensation or treatment for this – but not for Lariam induced problems.
Trying to decide whether the medicines regulators or the military command – all the way up to serial Ministers of Defence – would have been more inclined to keep sending troops over the top as in the Great War is a difficult call. Hard to say who would blink first in the face of drug induced carnage.
The extraordinary thing is that the military otherwise have a code of honour which requires them to look after their troops if injured. The pension schemes we have today, injury compensation schemes, developments in rehabilitation medicine – all come from the military. But none of these enlightened moves apply to injuries from drugs like Lariam.
What’s happening? Marriott leaves us wondering what it is that has made cowards of so many otherwise brave men. Leaves us wondering how the senior military command expect us to trust them to organize anything, if all the post and emails to them on issues like this somehow get lost, or they are prepared to lie so blatantly.
There is no Chapel on the Day They Hang a Man
If You Wake looks forward to a day when the troops killed by Lariam on duty, or who die after suffering Lariam induced agonies for years after returning home, are also remembered in Memorial Settings and on Memorial Days. There are no ceremonies now for them or their families or comrades to attend, where the truth about what happened and their sacrifice is recognized.
It is as though they are criminals.
This is something everyone who has been seriously drug injured – ordinary folk who are heroes – will recognize.
On the day that is in it (July 12), perhaps the best way to put it is that at the moment it seems more likely we will seen Green and Orange marching arm in arm in a twelfth of July parade than we are to see the Military embrace its mistakes about Lariam (and other medical interventions – see next week) and honour the troops who have died or been tortured beecause of these mistakes.
Someone to whom all of the above applies was talking to me recently and said:
This is not Worthy of Western Democracy – or Western Medicine.
He is right.
Over ten years ago now, a group of men broke into the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris and gunned down the staff who had printed cartoons of the Prophet.
As War on Civilization outlined, Nikolas Sarkozy stood on the steps of the Elysee Palace and said
This is a declaration of a war on civilization and it is the responsibility of civilization to defend itself.
A ghostwritten literature with all the hazards of drugs hidden is also a declaration of war on civilization and it is our responsibility to defend ourselves.
I have thought this for a long time and cautioned the editors of journals like Eric Rubin and Kamran Abbasi to beware of the injured breaking into their offices and gunning them all down because they have published caricatures of science that have killed and maimed tens of thousands of people.
Regulators and Ministers of Health and Medical politicians, no matter how good they are, or think they are, should see the movie Calvary – Father Munchausen I Presume – should beward too. Sometimes it can be more effective to make an example of a good guy than tackle the villain.
Just last week in Sweden a man murdered Ing-Marie Wieselgren. She was a prominent face for mental health – but became the target for a man who believes psychiatry has failed us. The week before a young man in Copenhagen gunned down three people – to draw attention to the fact that psychotropic drugs don’t work.
Soldiers sitting in a mess just following orders perhaps should beware too – they all knew what was going on but didn’t seem able to get their act together and sort out a military command that has been on this issue – complicit in ordering a modern Charge of the Light Brigade – see The Valley of Death.
One of the most extraordinary things about the Lariam story is this. It is normal, healthy even, to have homicidal feelings in the wake of injuries like those Lariam causes you and your friends and the suffering it brings to families. No-one trained to take action, however, has put on Warpaint.
This book by one of their own should be very uncomfortable reading for anyone in or linked to the military but better this than donning Warpaint.
To Be Continued