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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Anxiety UK Charity - Astroturfing?

Anxiety UK - Astroturfing?


An astute Seroxat Sufferers regular, Ruth, emailed me earlier with a charity she had stumbled across whilst researching. That charity is Anxiety UK.

Anxiety UK's 'About Us' page proclaims that it is a national registered charity formed 40 years ago by a sufferer of agoraphobia for those affected by anxiety disorders. It continues with:

Today we are still a user-led organisation, run by sufferers and ex-sufferers of anxiety disorders, supported by a high-profile medical advisory panel.
 All fine and dandy then. I have much respect for patient support groups...but a high-profile medical advisory panel?


The panel, which consists of medical advisers and patrons, throws up some names with interesting backgrounds in the field of psychiatry.

Top of the list is Professor David Clark. The Anxiety UK page describes him as thus:

Born in Darlington, England. He studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University. His clinical training was at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London in Clinical Psychology. He was a lecturer in Clinical Psychology and Professor in Psychiatry research fellow at Oxford University.

A quick Google search shows that Clark is a firm believer in Cognitive therapy versus the use of medication. His co-authored paper, 'Cognitive Therapy Versus Fluoxetine in Generalized Social Phobia: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial.' [1] found that Cognitive therapy is more effective than fluoxetine in people with generalised social phobia.

A decent approach but it leaves me somewhat baffled why Professor David Clark sits on a panel of a charity that directs readers of its website to Pfizer and Lundbeck?

"Generalised Anxiety Disorder" [GAD], writes Anxiety UK, "can be defined as a disorder in which the sufferer feels in a constant state of high anxiety and is often known as ‘chronic worrying’ or a ‘free floating’ anxiety condition."


Anxiety UK's GAD information page goes one step further, it would appear that they are cutting out the middle man [Doctor] as they offer you a self-assessment on their page.

If you can answer YES to most of the questions it is likely that you are affected by GAD.
During the past 6 months:- 

Do you feel that you have been nervous/on edge most days over the past 6 months?
Did you have problems falling asleep
Did you feel tension in your muscles because of feeling on edge?
Did you frequently feel tense and irritable? 

Anxiety UK strongly advises that people seek further information and guidance from their GP who will be able to make a formal diagnosis.

I cannot imagine for one minute that your average doctor would recommend Cognitive Therapy to any patient who had answered 'Yes' to most of the above questions. A prescription would more than likely be written for a medication that apparently can help with this 'disorder'.

The conveyor belt 


Fear not, even if you, like me, feel that medication can cause more harm than good, Anxiety UK are on hand to offer you more information. They do this by stating:


Want to know more?


The Anxiety UK site has information on a range of resources to provide more detailed information and help.

And that help directs you into the bowels of the pharmaceutical industry, whose main objective is to sell you drugs.

Here's a snapshot of Anxiety UK's GAD page:



Whilst I applaud the efforts of Professor David Clark to show that Cognitive Therapy works better than Prozac, I'm left scratching my head why he would wish to remain on a panel of a charity that directs its members to two pharmaceutical companies who manufacture drugs that, miraculously, can cure the very same symptom [GAD] that you have self-assessed yourself with.


Anxiety UK's medical advisers and patrons include:

Professor Cary Cooper CBE - Who is the author of over 100 books on occupational stress, stress medicine and industrial and organizational psychology.

Professor Robert Edelmann - Whose main research interests relate to chronic blushing.

Dr David Baldwin - Whose research interests include the clinical psychopharmacology of anxiety and depressive disorders and the prevention of suicidal behaviour.

I find myself wondering why Baldwin would be part of such a charity that directs members to Pfizer and Lundbeck, both have drugs known to cause suicide.

Pfizer's Sertraline, whose brand names are Zoloft and Lustral, has been reported to cause severe withdrawal problems, suicide and, some quarters now believe, birth defects.

Lundbeck's citalopram and escitalopram, whose brand names include Cipramil, Celexa, Lexapro and Cipralex, have all been associated with suicide, homicide, withdrawal problems and many believe, birth defects. More on Lunbeck and citalopram HERE.

Do you, like me, find it odd that a charity, with esteemed professionals as its medical advisers, would endorse the above pharmaceutical companies, or at least direct it's members to gain more information from these pharmaceutical companies?

With this in mind I contacted Anxiety UK early this morning with the following:


Dear Anxiety UK,


I am the author of the paperback, The evidence, however, is clear...the Seroxat scandal and also the blog, Seroxat Sufferers Stand Up And Be Counted.


An astute reader of mine recently alerted me to your page where I learned that you are directing readers/members to two pharmaceutical companies, namely Pfizer and Lundbeck, for 'recommended reading'


Question:


Why are you directing readers/members to two pharmaceutical companies whose antidepressant drugs are the subject of withdrawal problems, suicide ideation and birth defects?

By 5pm UK time, Anxiety UK had not responded.


Footnote:

In 2006 Pfizer announced that the European Commission has approved Lyrica [pregabalin] for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder [GAD] in adults.

In early 2010 Pfizer announced that the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] issued a Complete Response letter regarding the company's New Drug Application [NDA] for Lyrica [pregabalin] capsules CV as a monotherapy treatment for generalized anxiety disorder [GAD]. The FDA determined that the data contained in the NDA were insufficient to support approval.

The registrant of Anxiety UK is listed as The National Phobic Society. Their website, aptly entitled, "No More Panic" also offers help of the medication kind.

So, are Anxiety UK an astroturfing group? If not, why are they directing its readership to two pharmaceutical companies, with a history of manufacturing drugs known to cause suicide?

It's medical advisers may wish to reconsider their position on Anxiety UK's panel, I know I would.







[1] Cognitive therapy is more effective than fluoxetine in people with generalised social phobia


Fid 


ORDER THE PAPERBACK 'THE EVIDENCE, HOWEVER, IS CLEAR...THE SEROXAT SCANDAL' By Bob Fiddaman US and CANADA HERE OR UK FROM CHIPMUNKA PUBLISHING 


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