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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sara Carlin Inquest - Coroner's Witness In U-Turn... And That Man Shaffer!

As things go, we are a day behind on the events at the Sara Carlin inquest in Ontario, Canada. Those interested can only rely on the reporting of staff at Ontario's popular newspaper, The Oakville Beaver. Today sees them reporting about proceedings that occurred yesterday [Wednesday 16th June]

Reading today's article I am baffled as to the authenticity of some of the expert witnesses used by those who think Paxil didn't cause Sara Carlin to kill herself.

Yesterday saw Corner's Counsel call yet another witness to the stand, another witness to offer an opinion as to whether or not Paxil had a part to play in Sara's demise.

It has to be said at this point, that I have been following this case very closely and thus far have not seen one witness who can be deemed as an 'expert' in these matters.

So, yesterday, Dr. Nathan Scharf took to the stand. Scharf was qualified by the Coroner's Counsel, Michael Blain, as an expert in the area of SSRi use in children and adolescents.

Reading the Oakville Beaver article it would appear that Scharf was either ill-prepared or just not really that bothered by the events that took place on May 6th, 2007.

Scharf was called by the Coroner's Counsel to offer opinion on the strength of his experience working at the Youthdale Treatment Centre in Toronto, a crisis centre where Scharf is director.

Interestingly, Scharf has received mixed reviews for his treatment of children with medication.

Rate MD's - is a website whereby patients can offer their opinions of doctor's they or family members have received treatment from. A quick search of Scharf is revealing.

This comment from 2009:

Dr. Scharf is dangerous! He brushes you off when you ask questions and prescribes medications to children that arent even safe in anyone under 18 years of age! Youthdale is also a terrible organization in itself; they have committed several violations of the Child and Family Services Act. I came across a site called which shows these issues, and I encourage you to visit the site. seems to be a website that is against the use of drugging children and, it appears, has nothing to do with Scharf's directorship at the Youthdale Treatment Centre in Toronto.

Could this just be a disgruntled patient unhappy with Scharf?

There are more comments regarding Scharf on the Rate MD's website where he has received an average score of 6/10.

Quite the expert.

Back to the inquest and Scharf's initial opinion regarding Paxil causing Sara Carlin to kill herself.

This from the Oakville Beaver:

When asked by Blain [Corner's Counsel] to comment on Sara's case, Scharf initially said Paxil was probably not a major contributor to her death because she had been taking the Paxil since February of 2006 and most suicidal thoughts and adverse effects take place in the first few weeks if they are going to take place at all.

As Sara had been quite far along in her Paxil treatment, Scharf said it was more likely her suicide was a result of other things going on in her life.

You may recall that another of the Coroner's Counsel witnesses, Dr. David Juurlink, said pretty much the same thing. I have previously wrote about Juurlink here.

So, it would appear that both Coroner Counsel witnesses, Juurlink and Scharf were singing from the same hymn sheet - almost word for word!

On cross examination from the Carlin's lawyer, Gary Will, it became apparent that Scharf knew pretty much next to nothing about Sara Carlin's demise.

Oakville Beaver:

Carlin's lawyer Gary Will pointed out that Scharf had very little information on Sara's case. He had received only a page and a half summary from the Coroner's Office.

This summary included no medical records from Sara's doctors or statements from her parents about how they feel she changed when she began taking Paxil. Her parents have testified she changed from an academically and athletically focused young woman to an apathetic person who abused drugs and alcohol.

Will listed a number of incidents in which Sara's Paxil dose increase was followed shortly by some adverse behaviour on her part.

This included the Palm Springs incident, which occurred a few weeks after Sara began taking Paxil.

The Carlins have testified that Sara spent most of the time in bed with the blinds pulled down during a family trip to Palm Springs. They considered is very out of character for her.

When the Paxil dosage was moved from 10 mgs to 20 mgs, Will said Sara suddenly quite her part-time job at an optometrist's office.

It would appear that the Coroner's Counsel had not prepared their witness correctly.

For an 'expert' to take the stand, who has only been briefed with a one and a half page summary of the death of a teenage girl, is absurd.

I cannot think how the Coroner's counsel could be so lax, particularly as they have defended GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil since the very first day of this inquest, not only inside the Coroner's Court but on national TV too.

Coroner's Counsel, Michael Blain, appeared on TV during a short recess on day one of the inquest where he claimed that expert evidence to be given later in this case will show that Paxil was not related to Sara Carlin's suicide.

Yesterday, Scharf was told by the Carlin's lawyer that Sara's Paxil prescription was refilled and she may have taken as much as 120 mgs in a 36-hour period to make up the doses she missed. Scharf's one and a half page summary made no mention of this.

He was then asked if such a scenario could have played a role in her suicide, to which he replied, "Certainly, it may have played a role. I cannot say it did not play a role," said Scharf. "It was perhaps one factor among others."

Quite the U-Turn from his initial statement where he had said Paxil was probably not a major contributor to her death because she had been taking the Paxil since February of 2006 and most suicidal thoughts and adverse effects take place in the first few weeks if they are going to take place at all.

The jury at this inquest must be utterly bamboozled by it all.

Interesting bit of information regarding Dr. Nathan Scharf that you won't read in the Oakville Beaver.

In 2008 he gave a presentation at the Hospital for Sick Children. The “CRISIS INTERVENTION AND MANAGEMENT OF SUICIDAL BEHAVIOUR”

Also in attendance that day was one David Shaffer, MD.

Remember him?

This from investigative journalist, Evelyn Pringle:

A report filed in litigation showing that GlaxoSmithKline manipulated the numbers on adverse events related to suicidality in clinical trials back in 1989, to make it appear that Paxil did not increase the risk of patients experiencing suicidal behavior when, in fact, trial subjects on Paxil were eight times more likely to attempt or commit suicide than patients taking placebos.

Quite a few of the top pushers are also under investigation by the Committee due to revelations that millions of dollars has changed hands between the SSRI makers and the academics who signed off on some of the most fraudulently reported research in the history of modern medicine. A full list of names is easy to compile by scanning the literature on SSRI studies conducted on children. The same names appear repeatedly.

In alphabetical order, the Fortune 500 team of pushers, at a minimum, includes Drs Joseph Biederman, David Brent, Jeffrey Bridge, Daniel Casey, David Dunner, Graham Emslie, Daniel Geller, Robert Gibbons, Frederick Goodwin, Martin Keller, Andrew Leon, John Mann, John March, Charles Nemeroff, John Rush, Neal Ryan, David Shaffer, and Karen Wagner.

Shaffer was the head and driving force behind the development of the computerized screening tool that TeenScreen employs, the "Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children" (also known as DISC). Following this he helped to devise a shorter computerized version that is easier to use in schools, the "Diagnostic Predictive Scales" (DPS), and a paper and pencil version of the screening tool, the "Columbia Health Screen" (CHS). [LINK]

Shaffer's industry connections:

•Consultant: Hoffman la Roche, Wyeth (expert trial witness)
Consultant: GlaxoSmithKline (on the matter of paroxetine (Paxil) and adolescent suicide)
•Participated in a consensus panel for child and adolescent bipolar disorder funded by: Abbott, Brystol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, INC Research, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, and Solvay.

Strange company that the Coroner's Counsel in the Sara Carlin inquest keep isn't it?

And here was me thinking that this inquest was to give Sara Carlin a voice!

The Oakville Beaver's take on yesterday's events can be read HERE

More soon.

On May 6, 2007, Sara Carlin, a beautiful 18-year-old girl with everything to live for, grabbed a piece of electrical wiring, fashioned a crude noose and hanged herself in the basement of her parents house while under the influence of the antidepressant drug Paxil (Seroxat in the UK). Paxil/Seroxat is an antidepressant documented by international drug regulatory agencies as causing worsening depression and suicide particularly in children and young adults.

Please help inform others of the risks of these drugs. Forward this video to everyone you know.

RIP Sara Alison Carlin

Nessun Dorma


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