Sadly, my excitement disappeared as the interview went on. Like any good politician, questions were deflected in the manner that we have all become so accustomed to where the MHRA are concerned. The mention of Steph Gatchell's daughter, Sharise, who took her life whilst on Seroxat was, in my opinion, met with utter disdain from Woods. Rather than discuss the death of Sharise, Woods moved the goalposts quickly and, it has to be said, cleverly, to the recent spate of teenage suicides in Wales. The memory of Sharise Gatchell deserves better as does the memory of the individuals who died as a result of suicide in Wales.
The deflection of (once again) blaming the illness rather than the pill is piffle. Woods cares to take the word of the very same company who fucked him over a barrel regarding the paediatric studies. Is this just plain stubbornness - an attitude of 'no patient is going to tell ME that I'm wrong'? He certainly comes across that way.
I mentioned sometime ago on this very blog that this meeting could be deemed merely as a token gesture by Woods. Here is my reason for thinking that is exactly what it was.
The MHRA investigation into GlaxoSmithKline took up a large chunk of the meeting, many legal questions were asked, deflected, then put to bed... at least the recording is out in cyberspace now and it is a matter of public record.
The 'will they, won't they' arrest suspects was breifly touched upon, deflected and not raised again. This still irks me as it would Woods if he had been the victim of a crime and the investigative team chose not to investigate a suspect because that suspect's lawyer told them that his 'client' would remain silent!
Why Ian Hudson wasn't interviewed was also met with legal speak.
Woods was asked by Janice Simmons - coordinator of the Seroxat User Group (SUG) why Seroxat is deemed unsafe in children, unsafe in under 25's, unsafe in under 29's and unsafe in the elderly?
I wish he would have been allowed to finish his sentence - someone butted in. He said something like 'We have never said Seroxat is safe in adults' (someone then butted in). Well, what is the stance of the MHRA then? Either it is safe or it isn't? There is no in between. You are the regulator - you CANNOT sit on the fence playing with peoples lives!
Woods talks about the recent MORI Poll - stating that, in general, the public are quite happy with the way medicines are regulated in the UK. In truth 1,962 adults were questioned. The MHRA proudly boast that almost 9 in 10 adults are confident about the safety of medicines (88%) and medical devices (83%)
...the results also showed that only 2% of the public spontaneously identified the MHRA as the regulator!
So the 88% figure the MHRA are so proud of could basically be people thinking that Mickey Mouse and friends are the medicine regulators in the UK! - I would dearly love to make a sarcastic comment here but shall refrain.
I thought the meeting may have been a chance for Kent Woods to redeem himself. In my opinion... HE FAILED
Please note that there were 7 people present. Only one of them had taken Seroxat.
Will Kent Woods, the CEO of the MHRA sit down with a whole bunch of people who have actually taken Seroxat and know all about the severe withdrawal effects this drug can cause or will he continue to bury his head deep in the sand?
Props to Furious Seasons for hosting the audio recording
Big thank you to Janice for trying (once again) to get her voice heard.
For me the quote of the meeting comes from Janice herself. It's quite near the end of the audio and should be put in a frame and placed on Kent Wood's desk in his plush office:
Janice says "We have been talking to you since 2002 and we were right the whole way through. We told you the drugs were dangerous in under 18's , we weren't listened to. Lives were lost because people didn't listen. The information was there for everybody to see, we hope you will take a bit of notice and look into the situation. We know that the drugs cause suicide in adults"
Personally, I hate to prejudge but if Janice warned him in 2002 about the paediatric studies and HE DID NOTHING then I wouldn't hold my breath assuming he will do anything about the recent talk with SUG at MHRA HQ
Below, is the letter of resignation Richard Brook, former CEO of the Mental Health Charity MIND, sent to Kent Woods. I have included it to highlight how the MHRA like to keep things under wraps - Now, we all know another company like that don't we?
Dear Professor Woods
Re: SSRI Expert Group
I am writing to tender my resignation from the above group with immediate effect. As you will be aware I have had serious disagreements recently with the MHRA about the communication with patients relating to the dosage issues of Seroxat. As you know I have argued for much fuller and immediate disclosure of all findings that relate to public safety. Your letter to me on Monday evening warning me not to discuss the matter publicly was final confirmation about our fundamental differences in approach.
I was thus pleased to see the announcement today putting key information about dosages of Seroxat into the public domain. I am grateful to Lord Warner for his personal interest in this matter. Mind will be playing an active role in ensuring this information is made widely available.
However, the nature of the announcement fails to make public the fact that the clinical trial data you issued today was available to the regulator for over a decade. Despite four major regulatory reviews during this period and considerable consumer reporting and disquiet, the Committee of Safety of Medicines failed either to identify or communicate these key facts. As far as I am aware, the MHRA has not seen fit to acknowledge or address what in my view appears to be extreme negligence.
However, I believe my continuation on the Expert Working Group without a frank and open admission of these important facts has become impossible. Consumers are entitled to full information both about medicines and how the regulator operates. I thus tender my resignation.
Chief Executive, Mind
Now why was Kent Woods concerned that Richard Brook may have discussed the matter publicly? More importantly was was that 'matter'?
You may want to read the exchange of letters between Woods and Charles Medawar of Social Audit HERE. Medawar had wrote a letter of complaint to Woods regarding the Regulation of SSRI antidepressants. That was 2005 - and here we are in 2008!
As far as I am concerned we will never get any change out of the MHRA nor the DoH who for all intents and purposes are merely an extension of the MHRA!
Reaction to the recording on Furious Seasons
Incidently, I did not send the audio to Phil Dawdy at Furious Seasons nor a link to it but seeing as it is now out in the public domain I feel it only reasonable that I write about it.
MHRA MEETING ATTENDEES
Prof. Kent Woods: CEO MHRA
John Watkins: Communications MHRA
Sarah Wark: Pharmacovigilance Risk Management MHRA
James Cook: Solicitor Criminal Law
Derek Scott: Seroxat Patient
Janice Simmons: Coordinator of the Seroxat User Group
Patricia Martin: Legal Adviser to Seroxat User Group
Now... back to my break if you don't mind.
Read the new book, The Evidence, However, Is Clear...The Seroxat Scandal
By Bob Fiddaman
AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD HERE
PAPERBACK COMING SOON