Saturday, January 12, 2013
Tenacity Pays Off For Swedish Journalist Larsson
I've corresponded with many great writers since starting this blog almost 7 years ago, I've met a few in person too.
What makes a great health activist/advocate?
Well, in the main, a great advocate is someone who has experienced the darker side of the pharmaceutical industry. A person who, through no fault of their own, has endured horrific withdrawal at the hands of a pharmaceutical product or, worse, had to lay a loved one to rest because a pill that was meant to make them better actually induced suicide.
Then we have ex-pharma employees and current and retired psychiatrists, these people also add a tremendous weight to the debate regarding antidepressants.
Journalists banging the drum are few and far between but they do exist in this murky pharma world. One such journalist is Janne Larsson, a Swedish man whose investigative skills and tenacity have to be admired by the street man and revered by the top executives within pharma, medicine regulators and apparent experts in the field of psychiatry.
Larsson goes about his daily job without fuss. He rarely gets a mention on the regular activist blogs featured in my sidebar [right hand side of blog]
Mickey Nardo, of Boring Old Man fame, is a retired psychiatrist who blogs regularly. He recently highlighted the work of Larsson, in particular the way Larsson, like a dog, found a stick and just wouldn't let go of it.
Larsson has, for some time now, been gunning for Janssen, makers of Concerta, also known as Ritalin.
Like any good journalist Larsson has meticulously studied the adverse events of Concerta in Janssen’s clinical trials. What he found were huge flaws.
In the Company’s three best studies of Concerta on adults, the ones chosen for Janssen’s application, the following harmful events emerged in the short-term studies (up to 13 weeks), where Concerta was compared to placebo:
· The persons who received Concerta had a 270% increased risk for heart disorders in form of Arrhythmias;
· The persons who received Concerta had a 116% increased risk for Aggression;
· The persons who received Concerta had a 62% increased risk for Depression;
· The persons who received Concerta had a 225% increased risk for neurological disorders in form of Tics/Dystonias;
· The persons who received Concerta had a 190% increased risk for Psychosis/Mania;
· The persons who received Concerta had a 295% increased risk for Anorexia;
Larsson's dogged determination has prompted a letter to Tomas Salmonson, Chairman of The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use [CHMP] - The letter can be viewed in full HERE.
Larsson's thirst for the truth doesn't just stop at the door of Janssen. His investigative journalism skills extend much further than that.
For some time Larsson has been investigating psychiatrist Goran Isacsson, he of "antidepressants do not cause suicide" fame. There's still a handful of psychiatrists that hold on to this belief despite the overwhelming evidence that exists.
Isacsson had, in 2010, authored a paper that was subsequently published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.
The 7 page article, entitled, "Antidepressant medication prevents suicide in depression", made claims that only 15.2% of a group of 1,077 persons who had been admitted for psychiatric care for depression had measurable amounts of antidepressants in their blood at the time of suicide.
Larsson, being the good old journo that he is, looked into the claims of Isacsson and, surprise-surprise, learned that Isacsson's figures just did not add up.
In June 2012 Larsson sent a Freedom of Information request to Karolinska Institutet (where Isacsson works) - Larsson takes up the story:
"I specifically wanted to get the document containing the correct percentage of antidepressants for those who committed suicide and who had previously been treated at a psychiatric clinic for depression (the earlier mentioned group of 1077 persons).
"The answer from Karolinska Institutet: This is confidential information, no data can be released.
"It took a five month legal process to get access to the correct data. During this whole process Karolinska Institutet claimed that all the data in this research project were confidential."
After many legal wrangles the Karolinska Institutet were forced to admit in court that the actual figure quoted by Isacsson [15.2%] was way off the mark. The true percentage of those who had antidepressants in their blood when they committed suicide was a staggering 56%.
Meantime, the good news that antidepressants do not cause suicide was published in many of the mainstream newspapers in Sweden.
On the media reporting of Isacsson's findings, Larsson writes:
"We had a seven pages long scientific article, with great impact in media, where doctors and the public got the message that antidepressants protect against suicide – an article built on Isacsson’s faulty finding that only 15.2% in the group had antidepressants in their blood when they committed suicide. And so the correct data, which completely defeated Isacsson’s speculations and conclusions in the original article, “published” in a short statement to the court in Stockholm, where no doctor, no patient and no other researcher could find it."
This case strongly shows the God Factor that many psychiatrists and 'experts' carry around with them. It's ironic that delusional traits such as those seen in Isacsson are normally treated with antidepressant/antipsychotic type medications... prescribed by people just like Isacsson.
Last week I highlighted a suicide expert out here in New Zealand. Annette Beautrais has received copious amounts of funding from the New Zealand government, she has made claims that drugs such as Clozapine and Olanzapine protect against suicide. The study to back up her claims actually showed the complete opposite!
Janne Larsson is one of the good guys. He researches and finds answers because he can smell a rat a mile off. The rat in this instance being Goran Isacsson.
Larsson's investigative research on Isacsson's study [now retracted from the journal] can be seen HERE.