Internationally respected psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist, and author Dr David Healy has been busy of late. The launch of two new websites [one in blog form] and a book has got people talking in the blogsphere and on Twitter.
For those who don't know, Healy became a household name in the advocacy circles when he first spoke out about antidepressant use, particularly those of the SSRi family, of which Seroxat is one. He has been used as an expert witness in many cases against the pharmaceutical industry and, to my knowledge, is the only UK based health professional who has got to grips with the whole SSRi withdrawal issue, even offering tapering regimes for those who are struggling with their, apparent, non-addictive medication.
He's met with the MHRA, the UK regulatory agency who claim there are other SSRi withdrawal specialists based in the UK [but they cannot name who they are or where they are located] and provided them with a withdrawal protocol for SSRi's. Sadly, and predictably the withdrawal protocol fell on deaf ears and still remains on the table at the MHRA collecting dust and cobwebs.
It's safe to assume that the MHRA, who remember are fully funded by the pharmaceutical industry, are not one of Healy's biggest fans, to actually agree to meet with him back in 2010 must have stuck in the throats of those present. You see, the MHRA do not like being told how to steer their ship, they don't like being told that they are wrong. It's clearly evident, to me at least, that they are failing miserably in safeguarding human health. PIP implants and hip replacements are just two of the medical devices that have recently hit the news and highlighted the MHRA's failings. Prescription drugs such as Avandia, Vioxx, the class of SSRi antidepressants and benzos have also shown how the MHRA are failing to regulate properly.
Anyway, this post is about Healy's new ventures, namely his two new websites, Data Based Medicine Limited, which operates through its website RxISK.org and his personal website davidhealy.org.
Data Based Medicine Limited, of which Healy is the founder and Chief Executive Officer, aims to make medicines safer through online direct patient reporting of drug effects. Some may say it was created in direct opposition to the MHRA's current patient reporting system, the Yellow Card Scheme [YCS], a scheme that, over the years, has proven to be about as useful as a sailboat without a sail. The MHRA, of course, will argue that they have the best worldwide reporting system in place, in essence it's probably the best of a bad bunch and not something I'd shout from the rooftops if I were in charge of the MHRA.
Where Data Based Medicine Limited differ from the MHRA is that they intend to take anecdotal evidence and to present it as real based evidence. The YCS is, after all, an official anecdotal reporting service lacking in any follow-up or action.
The blurb for RxISK.org reads:
RxISK.org is your site to help make medicines safer for all of us. No-one knows drug side effects like the person who is taking a pill. Yet this voice is not heard. RxISK will provide a megaphone to you and your doctor to change the way we see drug safety.
Drug safety is an issue for us all. Prescription drugs are now a leading cause of death.
However, there is no evidence base for managing this new plague, nor are there any guidelines to help your doctor save you.
This means it takes time for the harmful effects of Vioxx, Avandia, and Prozac to be recognized.
You may have been told there is no evidence linking the treatment you are on to problems you are now having.
One reason there may be no evidence is because you and your doctor have been silenced. We need you to help us get across the message “We are not Anecdotes”. With your help, we're here to make medications safer for all of us.
Healy's other website, davidhealy.org, features articles, books, discussions and a regularly updated blog from Healy himself. His latest post is an eye-opener and relates to the way pharmaceutical companies admit and deny, almost in the same breath. That particular post can be read HERE.
If that weren't enough, Healy also has a new book [available March 2012] subtly entitled Pharmageddon, "a searing indictment and forceful argument against the pharmaceuticalization of medicine..."
Once I land a copy of the book I'll review it and post on here.
All in all, the start of 2012 has been productive for David Healy. He's no martyr, he's just someone who has seen a problem and has set out to do something about it...without being answerable to those that created the problem in the first place.