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Monday, July 18, 2011

Laura Kemp: Guardian of Seroxat

We live in a world where opinion is a right and debate of that opinion is equally a given right.

Lat week an article appeared in the Guardian, a popular newspaper from the UK. The article, by Laura Kemp, was about GSK's controversial antidepressant, Seroxat, known as Paxil in the US and Canada and Aropax in Australia.

Kemp can clearly put her point across eloquently, one wouldn't expect anything less from a qualified journalist.

Her opinion regarding the efficacy of Seroxat is, in the main, down to her own personal experience, however I must conclude that it is poorly researched, choosing instead to come from a 'power to the women' angle.

Kemp covers Seroxat in garlands, dismissing any of the negative anecdotal and officially reported side effects, of which there are thousands.

I am happy that Kemp has found her rock in life, her shoulder to lean on at time of woe.

Reading her article one is left with the impression that Seroxat is the best thing since sliced bread. Many may finger point and say the article has a more sinister point, that being that Kemp is a shill for GSK. For the record, I don't think she is, I just believe she hasn't researched Seroxat well enough. Kemp's only motive, it appears, is that Seroxat has kept the blues at bay for her and help her through 15 years of depression. Quite why her depression hasn't yet lifted after 15 years on Seroxat, is not mentioned by Kemp.

I find it odd when I read the rare article that actually promotes Seroxat, odd because Seroxat has been the subject of four Panorama investigations, a suicide/homicide case in the US [Settled out-of-court], a class action lawsuit regarding the withdrawal effects in the US [Settled out-of-court], a lawsuit where it was found that a child was born with heart defects because its mother took Seroxat whilst pregnant [The jury found Glaxo guilty by a majority of 10/2, Glaxo appealed then later settled out-of-court with the family] - a further estimated 800 other child defect cases were, or are in the process of being, settled. I also find it odd that it would be promoted in such a fashion despite the controversy that surrounds its manufacturer, GSK and the way they hired key opinion leaders to say it was safe for use in children and adolescents...when GSK knew that it was actually the opposite.

Kemp has been taking Seroxat for 15 years, it's not known if she has ever tried to stop taking it. Why would she want to? Her article suggests that she is happy to take it for the rest of her life, despite not knowing the possible implications of taking Seroxat long term. Maybe Kemp should write to GSK and ask them what the impact is of taking their drug for 15 years. She won't get an answer from them.

If Kemp should change her mind and one day decides to stop taking Seroxat I'd love her to keep a diary and make a note of the zaps she may get jolting through her head, the visionary disturbances, feelings of dark thoughts such as violence and suicide.

15 years on Seroxat has kept Kemp ticking over nicely, a pill to suppress emotion may be seen as a godsend for her but not for the many thousands that have struggled at the hands of Seroxat's stranglehold when trying to taper from it. Nor for the families left devastated by its trail of destruction as loved ones chose the option of suicide whilst taking it.

Maybe the 800 or so families whose children were born with defects and whom were paid in out-of-court settlements by GSK, will echo Kemp's sentiments that Seroxat is a "beautiful blue pill"... then again, maybe not.

Kemp's article falls short of warning the women, it seems to be aimed at, that Seroxat is a teratogen. It also comes across as women need a chemical fix because they aren't strong enough to cope with what life has to throw at them, that's my take on it anyhow.

Kemp has merely sampled half a steak and gave it the thumbs up. If she were ever to finish her meal [withdraw] then, I feel, she will be in a much better position to write an article, particularly one aimed at women, many of whom could be of child bearing age.

15 years on an antidepressant suggests that Kemp is either addicted to Seroxat or just does not want to face what life has to throw at her. One thing is apparent, Kemp now has a chemical imbalance, the Seroxat taken over 15 years would have caused that. 15 years ago she would have been told that she was prescribed Seroxat because her depression caused a chemical imbalance, that has never been proven.

The article is a fine example of the lines spun by GSK every time Seroxat comes under fire. "Seroxat has benefited millions of people worldwide."

What I found more worrisome than Kemp's naivety was the fact that she has been taking 30mg of Seroxat for 15 years, she claims that she is happy to do this for the rest of he life. What she probably doesn't know is that her prescribing GP obviously isn't reading his or her British National Formulary [BNF]. The recommended daily dose of Seroxat for mild depression is 20mg, anything over that does not work, in fact the more she has been feeding her brain, the harder it will be for her to stop taking it. She may also wish to ask her doctor for some blood tests...just to see how her liver is coping after 15 years of taking Seroxat.

I'm grateful that the occasional article pops up in the mainstream press that 'bigs up' Seroxat. It gives me, and people like me, a chance to set the record straight.

Patients [former patients] shouldn't be angry at Kemp, they should be writing her and warning her that her sugar-coated article is deeply flawed.

With all that said, I wish Laura Kemp a healthy future. I wish her a safe withdrawal. Only research into the heartache and devastation Seroxat has caused over the years may sway her opinion. If she ever does decide to withdraw maybe she won't be so quick to claim that a teratogen like Seroxat is "beautiful" anymore.

Her article, "Antidepressants are a lifeline for women like me", can be read in full HERE