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Author of The evidence, however, is clear, the Seroxat scandal
Citizens Commission on Human Rights Award Recipient (Twice)
Humanist, humorist

Monday, October 29, 2012

Health Canada Under Fire





Health Canada, the "independent" body of regulators who monitor the safety of drugs, have recently come under fire for failing to monitor the safety of drugs dished out to millions of Canadians every year.

I've highlighted Health Canada many times on this blog. They, just like other global medicine regulators, are about as useful as a waterproof teabag when it comes to safeguarding the public.

Yesterday The Star ran with the headline, 'Health Canada brushes off reports of serious side effects'. The article, written by David Bruser and Jesse McLean, heavily featured the story of Brennan McCartney, the 18 year old who killed himself just 4 days after being prescribed the powerful SSRi Lexapro [known as Cipralex in Canada] - Back story here.

Like many before her, Brennan's mother, Nancy, was shocked to find that the medication given to her son could actually induce suicide. This was learned after the event because the warnings about this adverse reaction are seen as a minor risk by Health Canada.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

GSK - Flying the Flag of Hypocrisy

GSK - Flying the Flag of Hypocrisy


Hypocrisy is the state of promoting or administering virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that one does not actually have or is also guilty of violating. Hypocrisy often involves the deception of others and thus can be considered a kind of lie [1]

Irish blogger, Leonie Fennell, recently highlighted the Irish media [RTE] accepting awards from GlaxoSmithKline for, of all things, a TV program about the history of clinical trials with children!

Perversely, Glaxo Ireland proudly announce on their webpage that, "The purpose of the GSK Irish Medical Media Awards is to recognise the important contribution of Irish medical and consumer healthcare journalists. Here in Ireland, we’re extremely fortunate to have a strong, independent media that can, and does, challenge pre-conceptions, ask the hard questions and push for answers."

Aidan Lynch, Vice President and General Manager of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ireland, presented winners with their awards.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

MHRA: Breckenridge to Step Aside

Alasdair Breckenridge to Step Aside as Chairman of MHRA


Better late than never but I guess it had to happen given the length of time Breckenridge has held the position of Chairman of the MHRA and, of course, his age.

Alasdair Breckenridge is to step aside as Chairman of the MHRA. His end of his term in office will cease on 31 December 2012. [Link]

[Insert Applause]

[Insert firework display]

[Insert ticker-tape]

Breckenridge will be best remembered by victims of GlaxoSmithKline's Seroxat for his stuttering performance on BBC TV's Panorama. [See video below post]

Breckenridge, who, before taking his role of Chairman at the MHRA, used to be employed by SmithKline Beecham, who later went on to be the entity we now all know as GlaxoSmithKline.

Much has been said about Breckenridge on this and many other blogs. To be honest I actually don't know what role he played at the MHRA - Yup, we all know the title [Chairman] but it's hard to see what he actually contributed to the business. Maybe he was just dead-wood and the MHRA's CEO, Kent Woods, kindly found him a position within the agency, "Sit down, close the door and talk to nobody about Glaxo or Seroxat"


Monday, October 22, 2012

In Defence of Glaxo: Stephen Whitehead Speaks Out

ABPI CEO, Stephen Whitehead


Friend and fellow advocate RC over at Seroxat Secrets alerted my attention to a recent post in the New Statesman where the wheels of PR have kicked in and underplayed Glaxo's history of abhorrent behaviour.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's CEO, Stephen Whitehead, felt the need to contact the New Statesman after a review by Helen Lewis of Ben Goldacre's new book, Bad Pharma: How drug companies mislead doctors and harm patients. 

I've not read Goldacre's book yet, ordering from Amazon when one lives in New Zealand is like waiting for a bus that never arrives. I will, however, obtain a copy at some point.

What's striking about Whitehead's letter to the New Statesman is his defence of British company GlaxoSmithKline, let's not forget that Glaxo are not American or a Japanese corporation, they are British so any actions, be they good or bad, blemish the the Union Jack flag.

Whitehead, just like Glaxo CEO, Andrew Witty, blames nobody but a bygone era, further adding that pharmaceutical companies being fined "...are all examples from the US and simply not relevant to the UK market."

Oh gee, and there was me thinking that Glaxo's cancerous corruption was worldwide, what was I ever thinking? Thanks for putting me straight on that one Mr Whitehead.


Mimicking Depression: The Wrong Diagnosis



A lot has been said on the use of antidepressants and whether they are safe and effective in those that use them.

The majority of healthcare professionals who prescribe these medications on a daily basis seem to think that antidepressants have a place in today's society. The majority prescribe them because they have been told, and are still told, that they are safe and effective.

Of course, your average GP doesn't just think that the evidence that these drugs work is based around the clinical trials, spokespersons of pharmaceutical companies and thought leaders. They, apparently, see the results first hand. Depressed Joe feels a whole lot better because of the Prozac that Dr Jones prescribed him 2 months ago. The change in Joe is enough for his Dr to believe that the Prozac is working. The placebo effect rarely enters the mind of Joe or Dr Jones.

I find the history of marketing antidepressant medication fascinating in as much that it is rarely questioned by the masses, even if it was questioned by your average layperson it's, more often than not, met with a shrug of the shoulders and an 'Ah well' attitude.

It couldn't happen to me, right? I'd never allow myself to become depressed, to take an antidepressant people must be weak, why don't they just get a grip of themselves?

Attitudes like this may have there place but the genius of pharma marketing is that they are very convincing but always driven by profit.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

15 Good Reasons Not to Trust Andrew Witty and GSK

Glaxo CEO, Andrew Witty



GSK Head, Andrew Witty and his recent announcement about transparency could possibly be believed if one were inclined to be gullable. See here, Glaxo's Murky Transparency Claim

He blamed the recent $3 billion guilty plea for off-label promotion of GSK drugs that not only harmed but killed people on an era. See here, GlaxoSmithKline: The Andrew Witty "Era"

Do we, as consumers, really think Andrew Witty is being sincere with his latest offering? He, as recent as last year, refused to meet with Janice Simmons, founder of the Seroxat User Group, to discuss the 15,000 emails she has amassed from patients who are struggling to withdraw from his company's antidepressant, Seroxat. See here, **Exclusive - GSK's Andrew Witty in Patient Aftercare Snub

Witty's backroom staff and predecessor's have also made promises and outrageous statements in the past.

Glaxo, and indeed other pharmaceutical companies, are always telling doctor's and patients about the benefit vs risk of taking their antidepressant medications.

Like Witty, I'm coming up with my own benefit vs risk ratio. Can he, or indeed his company, GSK, be trusted to deliver the goods this time around?


Friday, October 12, 2012

Glaxo's Murky Transparency Claim



Glaxo head, Andrew Witty, is in the news - this time he's bigging-up his company for being transparent.

Many of the mainstream press are carrying the story, "All Hail Sir Andrew". Critics are viewing this by asking their own questions, one such critic being Mickey Nardo, who, by his own admission, is one boring old man with time on his hands.

Mickey, a retired psychiatrist, raises some good points in a post here, he writes:

I don’t want to join the voices that find something wrong not matter what changes are made. So long as pharmaceutical manufacturers remain private business enterprises, we can expect the to act like other businesses in a capitalistic society. But at a time like this when GSK is making a change in policy towards something that needs fixing as badly as this does, I think it behooves us to go over it with a fine tooth comb to make sure it conforms to the needed change rather than represents another attempt at deceit. With GSK, we’ve earned the right to use that word [deceit] freely. I’ve already mentioned the issue of "panel of experts" as a potential conduit for deceit. But there’s something else.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Health Canada Bury Heads in Sand over Champix Suicides



Unsurprisingly, the Canadian medicines regulator, Health Canada, are burying their heads in the sand regarding the reported suicides that surround the smoking cessation drug, Champix, also known as Chantix [Varenicline]

Canadian newspaper, The Star, is reporting that their own "investigation has found 24 Canadians taking Champix to quit smoking have killed themselves since it hit the market here in 2007, putting it among the leading suspected causes of reported suicides linked to prescription drugs."

The investigation also found that there was no indication Health Canada has investigated individual cases of psychiatric side effects since it looked into 14 cases of aggression, depression and suicidal thoughts from 2007, adding, Health Canada did a “systematic review” to see if Champix caused psychiatric reactions in 14 cases from 2007, the year the drug came out here.



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