One would have thought upon learning that there was a withdrawal issue with one of their drugs, GSK would have pulled out all the stops to help those taking their drug, Seroxat.
Not according to an internal memo.
Glaxo, it seemed, were more concerned how news of a withdrawal issue with Seroxat would affect their sales for their once blockbuster drug.
Take a good look at the image above. The dollar sign with a near bulging bag shows how withdrawal [they call it discontinuation] was a major issue that could have affected sales. The "money-bag" memo can be seen here
You will note that GSK started to defend the withdrawal issue when Eli Lilly, their competitors, raised the issue that Seroxat had a withdrawal problem.
Discontinuation events are not a major clinical issue, but are being used as a commercial smokescreen by Lilly in an attempt to retain market share.
The memo to the GSK salesforce team also stresses:
'Discontinuation symptoms' is the preferred term for describing symptoms which may occur when an SSRi is discontinued.
Terminology such as 'withdrawal symptoms' should be avoided as it implies dependence.
Evidence that has been sealed in American courts show that Glaxo knew about the withdrawal issues of Seroxat many years ago but did not alert the medicines regulators or the public. In the meantime, many people suffered because they did not disclose this.
Glaxo have made many out of court settlements in the US because of this evidence. As part of the settlement agreement, the evidence remains sealed and away from public eye.
If I were an employee of the MHRA or FDA I'd be asking for this evidence because I would feel that I had a duty to safeguard public health. I'd ask when they knew about this problem and why it took so long to inform the authorities about it.
This is fraud, plain and simple.
Here's Karen Barth Menzies, Attorney from the US, speaking about GlaxoSmithKline's suppression of Seroxat withdrawal issues.
The scientific data, she says, showed anywhere between 50 and 80% of the patients will have trouble actually stopping the drug.
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'THE EVIDENCE, HOWEVER, IS CLEAR...THE SEROXAT SCANDAL' By Bob Fiddaman
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