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Friday, February 29, 2008

Drug Profits A Bitter Pill To Swallow...

Source: The Daily Record

Feb 29 2008 Annie Brown

IN the futuristic world of Sixties movie Barbarella, instead of sex they took a pill and held hands "until full rapport" was achieved.

In the western world, in the here and now, we don't indulge in emotional problems, we take a pill.

Barbarella's pills were "exaltation transference pellets", ours are Prozac or Seroxat and we take them until "mood enhancement" is achieved.

And just like Barbarella's little pellet, it turns out, our pills could be the stuff of fantasy.

In 2006, the NHS issued 31million scripts for Prozac in the UK.

Anti-depressant prescriptions cost the health service £3.3billion last year, almost three per cent of the entire NHS budget.

But research has surfaced that claims they have little effect on mild depression and we may as well have lifted the mood making paper chains with all that cash.

Some of the data is 20 years old, gathering dust until some pesky researchers made the drug firms fess up through Freedom of Information Legislation. It's not that the drug companies lied, heaven forfend, just that they didn't tell the whole story.

Drug companies don't need to reveal the findings of all their tests, which is why they are able to put profit before patients.

In the meantime, the drugs were over-prescribed, billions of pounds wasted and lives ruined.

There's no little pill to cure that heap of waste and misery.

One of the most popular, Seroxat, has made the drug companies billions and though it might not have much effect on depression, it's adverse impact on lives has been huge.

It has been linked to suicides and the withdrawal symptoms can be horrendous.

A male friend of mine couldn't sleep after the breakdown of his marriage and took Seroxat on his GP's promise that it was not addictive.

Yet when tried to wean himself off it, his eyes became soulless, his mood dark, he sweated, his head pounded with pain and cloudiness and he felt he couldn't cope.

It took him five years to free himself from the shackles of Seroxat but he will be on an alternative anti-depressant for life.

When I burst in to tears in the doctor's surgery after the break-up of a long-term relationship, he offered me first Valium and then Prozac. Valium was the drug I remember made Seventies housewives' eyes glaze over and was as repugnant as flares.

Prozac? Well, I am the Prozac generation.

I looked at that box and could never bring myself to open it, I feared that inside it lurked a dependency that would linger long after my tears had dried.

The truth was that I wasn't depressed and I never have been.

I had been hit by one of life's curve balls and with some exercise, TLC and a new bloke, I got over it.

Not all problems are indicative of a medical condition, sometimes that's just life.

Depression is real, it's destructive and debilitating but curing it takes more than a course of pills.

Yet our psychiatric services are pitifully underfunded, inaccessible unless you stand on the Kingston Bridge and threaten to jump off.

The drug companies have us in a stranglehold.

If they had any conscience, they would hand over their profits to contribute to more psychiatric help.

The happy pills worked for them but were a con for those who needed them.

Now that is depressing.

'Drugs were over-prescribed, billions of pounds wasted and lives were ruined. There's no little pill for that heap of waste and misery'

Read the new book, The Evidence, However, Is Clear...The Seroxat Scandal

By Bob Fiddaman

ISBN: 978-1-84991-120-7