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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Former GSK Head Launches "The Year of the Brain"


Former GSK Head of Psychiatry Alastair Benbow


Alastair Benbow. Now there's a name.

Benbow and I go back a long way, well my criticisms of him do. He knows who I am, which, I guess, is quite flattering considering I'm just a former Seroxat patient with a gripe against his former employers, GlaxoSmithKline.





I learned earlier this year that Benbow had left GlaxoSmithKline. For so long he was their spokesperson when it came to defending their once popular selling antidepressant Seroxat [known as Paxil in the US and Aropax in Australia and NZ]

Benbow once took umbrage to a video I made where I had included slides of his photo and statements he had made in the press regarding the apparent safety and efficacy of Seroxat. Lawyers representing Benbow sent me a letter calling for the video to be removed from YouTube. Bad move on Glaxo's part as bloggers and online journalists picked up on the story - Pharmalot's Ed Silverman ran the story HERE. I, after consulting with my own lawyers, removed the video but another copy of it was uploaded to YouTube within a few hours. Glaxo's lawyers had also told me that I had used their logo without their express permission - Meh.

Anyway, that was then... this is now.

Benbow is now focusing his efforts on his European Brain Council [EBC], of which he is Executive Director.

recent article that appeared on the Science Omega website shows that Dr Benbow is, it seems, pushing for more of an emphasis for us to focus on brain disorders.

I find it kind of ironic that a former spokesperson for GSK's Seroxat, a drug that causes all sorts of brain abnormalities would be calling for more focus on brain disorders, such as [the article cites] headaches, migraines, depression, psychotic disorders, etc.

To promote this focus the EBC have launched "The Year of the Brain", a project, cites the article, that has "won the backing of more than 200 organisations and sponsors..."

Benbow is then quoted in the article with his beliefs about Alzheimer's and dementia, quite a contrast from the former head of psychiatry at GSK who used to believe that Seroxat, may one day be useful for children... "We [GSK] haven't got a licence in children yet".


In a 2002 interview with BBC TV's Shelley Jofre, GlaxoSmithKline spokesperson, Alastair Benbow, claimed that, "... the majority of patients who experience withdrawal symptoms - and the majority of patients actually do not experience any withdrawal symptoms - of those that do the majority of those symptoms are mild to moderate in nature and will go away without any treatment within two weeks." He was, of course, referring to the antidepressant Seroxat.

Furthermore, in the same interview, Dr Benbow claimed, "maybe that a small proportion of patients do get more severe symptoms...". 

Back in 2011 I wrote to the UK Medicines Regulator, the MHRA, and asked them if they could point me to the studies in which Benbow was basing these claims. The MHRA informed me, "We cannot give you a definitive answer, we would advise you to contact GSK directly to ascertain what studies Mr Benbow considered supported his statement."

I wrote to GSK and asked them the same, eventually they replied with:

"You have requested information on study/studies that substantiate some selected quotes from Dr Alastair Benbow with regard to Seroxat during that interview back in 2002. Dr Benbow is no longer with GlaxoSmithKline and therefore it would be inappropriate to attribute substantiation data to him without any consultation."

Back to the 'Year of the Brain' campaign. What I find worrisome is the way this campaign is being rolled out, more importantly who it is being rolled out to. "We're sure the project, which will also include a schools and universities programme backed up by digital and social media, will act as an important catalyst," states Benbow.

Is it really necessary to target children about apparent brain disorders or is this just a unique way of selling pharmaceutical illnesses and products by proxy? It's a fair enough question given that Benbow's former employees have just pleaded guilty to off-label promotions of various drugs, including the promotion of Seroxat to children - something that Benbow was apparently unaware of during his tenure at GSK.

Seroxat was never meant for children, Glaxo knew this yet the following document shows how Benbow's previous employees used schools as a means to promote their product [by proxy] on children.



It would appear that it isn't safe for kids to go to school anymore. We have drug companies pushing their wares and now The European Brain Council entering the arena.

The school shootings across America [the majority of which saw the perpetrators on some form of psychiatric drug] pale into insignificance by comparison.

I'm all for educating children but educating them on apparent brain disorders is just taking things a step too far. Leaves me wondering what subject this would fall under. Science or Drama?

The interview with Alastair Benbow can be viewed HERE.







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