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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sara Carlin - 'Death by Paxil' Inquest - The 'Expert'

Coroner's Counsel expert witness, Dr. David Juurlink

The Oakville Beaver has another update on the Sara Carlin inquest - the column inches this time dedicated to an expert witness called by the Coroner's Counsel.

Yesterday, Dr. David Juurlink took the witness stand to offer his opinion on why Sara took her own life.

In a nutshell, he does not believe that Paxil caused Sara to kill herself, although he does believe SSRI's, Paxil included, can provoke suicidal thoughts and suicide.

From the Oakville Beaver:

One of the reasons he gave for this belief was Sara's Paxil history, which said Sara was prescribed Paxil in February of 2006, but did not kill herself until May of 2007.

Juurlink said this is not consistent with other SSRi suicides he has researched where the suicides and suicidal thoughts came within weeks of the patients being introduced to the drug, not more than a year later.

The Paxil patient information leaflet [PIL] also makes the same claim as Juurlink.

Juurlink went on to claim that he thought there were a number of other things going on in Sara's life that could have triggered her suicide, including school related stress, difficulties in relationships with boyfriends and her brother Brendan's tragic death on New Year's Eve 1999.

It appears to me that these witnesses for the defence are seriously missing the point. [I call them the 'defence' because all they seem to have done from day one of this inquest is defend Paxil]

Sara was prescribed Paxil. She wasn't told that it could cause her to kill herself. Her parents wasn't informed by Sara's doctor that he had prescribed her Paxil because of some ancient Canadian law that prohibits doctors divulging information about their patients.

When cross-examined by the Carlin's lawyer, Gary Will, Juurlink was asked about the effect increasing Sara's Paxil prescription may have had on her. It was pointed out to Juurlink that nearly every time Sara's medication was increased she would exhibit disturbing behavioural changes.

Juurlink said these incidents were probably brought on by depression, which was not adequately treated by the Paxil.

I find this very strange, particularly as Juurlink is the co-author of a study that found Paxil can block the life-saving benefits of the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen.

Okay, nothing to do with Sara's case but strangely Juurlink was interviewed sometime ago on CTV News Channel with regard to his particular study.

On being asked by the interviewer, "For those watching right now that might be taking Tamoxfen with this antidepressant [Paxil] - what should they do?"

Juurlink replied, "The first thing to do is not panic and certainly don't stop taking your paroxetine, your Paxil suddenly. There's a well described withdrawal's actually potentially dangerous consequences of stopping the drug..."

You can view Juurlink's performance HERE

"Dangerous consequences of stopping the drug"

This from the Oakville Beaver:

Gary Will also asked about the effects Sara might have experienced when, in the final days of her life, she lost her pills for a couple of days and may have taken several to make up for what she'd missed.

Juurlink said patients who suddenly stop taking Paxil might experience SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome, which, in extreme cases, can cause a person to feel as though they are receiving electric shocks all over their body.

However, he said there is no evidence Sara went through this.

At no point did Juurlink utter the words, "Dangerous consequences of stopping the drug", as he did when he was interviewed on CTV News Channel sometime ago.

Full article can be read on the Oakville Beaver website.

What you won't read in the article is Dr. Juurlink is or was an internist and Head of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto. [LINK]

The Sunnybrook Foundation rely on donations - in 2008 GlaxoSmithKline donated $140,000. [LINK]

Juurlink is or was also a Medical Toxicologist at the Ontario Regional Poison Information Centre at the Hospital for Sick Children.

In 2008 GlaxoSmithKline donated $625,000 GlaxoSmithKline to Hospital for Sick Children. [LINK]

Juurlink maintains an active research program in the field of drug safety, supported by a New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research. [CIHR]

CIHR in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline Inc.


GlaxoSmithKline Inc. (GSK), with an investment totalling over $30M, intends to establish endowed Research Chairs at many of Canada's medical schools (or affiliated research institutes) in disciplines where specific universities are particularly strong, and where GSK and CIHR both have clear scientific interest. [LINK]

Another video of interest for the 'expert witnesses'. It's on for half an hour and well worth the watch - if anything, the experts should grant Sara a voice.

Please note that 'Seroxat' is the UK brand name for paroxetine - otherwise known as Paxil in Canada and the United States.

Watch Seroxat in News  |  View More Free Videos Online at


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