The following is an email I received from a reader regarding my recent post about the MHRA and, it seems, their reluctance to meet with Dr. David Healy.
I have to say, I'm in agreement with the reader:
I can imagine your disillusionment with the MHRA over this matter, particularly after all your efforts, and getting the cooperation of Professor David Healy, one of the worlds preeminent psychopharmacologists, and SSRI experts, but it might yet be they will do something about SSRI physiological dependence/addiction and a safer tapering protocol, such as advocated by David Healy. But I'm not very optimistic for several reasons, some of which I'll address below.
a) To admit people taking an SSRI can cause physiological dependence related problems (be addictive) and may take many people several years to come off, would be to admit the drug had caused substantial harm. The legal ramifications of this should be self-evident.
b) Manufacturers of pharmaceuticals would not be too happy with the MHRA over that--and after all; he who pays the piper mostly calls the tune. Note: And patients would have to be informed prior to taking the drug, it follows the information would have to included in the drug's PIL. GSK, et al, would be over the moon about that.
c) Some doctors and pharmaceutical companies would claim foul, and claim that informing consumers prescribed an SSRI, that they might have to taper off the drug over weeks, months, or even years, would lead patients into non-compliance; ie. not taking them.
d) Even were I wrong about a), b) and c) other things come into play here--the sheer logistics, ie. some doctors/GPs would not get involved in taper protocols--too time consuming, or even disbelieve there is a need for such a protocol, (ie. "These drugs are safe, effective and are not addictive, no matter what the BNF, or anyone else says") in which case(s), had the MHRA issued an edict that patients should be offered medical assistance to taper safely off SSRI, other withdrawal support methods would have to be initiated. eg. Government--DoH funded special clinics.
Now we enter the arena of serious health politics, questions in the House, ("To ask the Secretary of State how many people are taking SSRIs, and how many of those are addicted to them") EDMs, etc, mass-media coverage, maybe even talking heads on morning telly, even Newsnight, perhaps.
And do you know what Bob, the reason I'm just a tad pessimistic about the MHRA instituting an effective taper programme for SSRIs, apart from the above written; is there was, and indeed still is, almost exactly the same scandalous problem with the benzodiazapine family of drugs. Yet, the DoH, various governments and their secretaries of state, have studiously and deliberately ignored the plight of those afflicted people -- currently, between one, and one half million -- iatrogenically addicted to that family of psychotropic drugs.
See Colin Downes Grainger's blog @ http://www.benzo.org.uk/blog/ for a fairly comprehensive history of that ongoing controversial scandal.
In the event anyone should doubt the reality of my temporised:"These drugs are safe, effective and are not addictive, no matter what the BNF, or anyone else says" see the reality -- Professor David Nutt was still saying at the end of the 20th Century:
“The case for benzodiazepine dependence causing real damage has not been made.” Accessed @ http://www.benzo.org.uk/amisc/nutt.pdf today.
Full permission to forward to Kent Woods, et al, post as a comment, and or, in it's entirety as an article.
I'm forwarding this to Colin, as he's unknowingly contributed much to this missive, my knowledge of these matters, and may give further input to the matter.
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