Blogging Since 2006

Blogging Since 2006
Showing posts with label Coroner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coroner. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Can New Zealand's Mental Health System Be Detrimental to Your Health?

If drugging patients does not prevent suicide then why drug them in the first place?

The percentages have been worked out, the drugs have been totted up, the diagnosis', the mixture of medications prescribed have all been collated and the results are shocking...truly shocking.

New Zealand has a suicide problem, it's government hire professionals, known as suicidologists, to help solve the problem. Truth is, they haven't solved anything. Truth is they don't know how to put a stop to the alarming number of suicides in New Zealand.

One particular 'expert' hired in the past by the NZ government was Annette Beautrais, she co-authored a paper suggesting that the horse tranquilizer, Ketamine, could prevent suicide.

She, along with other authors, claimed that giving the horse tranquilizer, ketamine, to patients admitted into Emergency Departments for suicidality caused depression and suicidal thoughts to miraculously disappear within 40 minutes. The study ran for just 4 hours, featured just 14 subjects, had no comparator, no placebo, had the subjects on a range of other drugs and involved in therapy but did not assess the role these played in the results and was open label [patients and doctors knew what the drug was]. Back story here.

Beautrais was, for 20 years, the Principal Investigator with the Canterbury Suicide Project at the University of Otago, Christchurch. The project, established in 1991, ended when Beautrais took umbrage, it appears, because she had been turned down for funding from the NZ government. Hardly surprising given the lack of results she was achieving as the government's key adviser on suicide prevention but something she decided was a personal attack on her. Beautrais, an American, left New Zealand and headed back home.

The New Zealand government plow money into a mental health system, designed to filter more people through the doors of district health boards [DHB's] - They think medication is the way forward, they think these drugs will actually prevent people from killing themselves.

They haven't even bothered looking at the statistics, the actual suicides that occurred between 2007-2010 . Patients, whilst under the care of NZ's DHB's, have been medicated, in many instances on cocktails of mind altering drugs, in many cases drugs that have interacted with one another, rendering them ineffective or worse still highly dangerous.

Coroners in NZ will be alarmed at the latest research, they may ask themselves "where did we go wrong?", "How could we have been so blind?" - All they had to do was get to the information held by NZ's DHB's, they didn't and that's what alarms me most.

Spinz, New Zealand Suicide Prevention Strategy, have been struggling for years to come up with answers, again they had the power to investigate matters, they chose not to.

The figures, gained by myself under the Official Information Act, will shock. They will, hopefully, make the NZ public angry, they will, hopefully, shame the NZ government and the NZ mental health system.

Any family member left destroyed by the suicide of a loved one under the care of a DHB in NZ may also find the figures alarming, they may also start asking their own questions.

The title of this post is, "Can New Zealand's Mental Health System Be Detrimental to Your Health?" - Figures gained certainly show that there is a huge problem with regard to the way the mental health system thinks medication is the answer.


So, the figures have been collected, the suicides under the care of DHB's are jaw-dropping, the over medicating of some patients has been akin to abuse and woeful neglect.. but still patients are pushed through the system, medicated because nobody even bothered to check to see if the medication was the answer - it clearly wasn't as statistics will prove.

  • Patients given powerful psychiatric medication without having an actual diagnosis recorded went on to kill themselves.
  • Adolescents prescribed drugs off-label went on to kill themselves.
  • Patients given cocktails of psychiatric medications that went on to kill themselves... because nobody bothered to check whether or not it was safe to mix these medications.
  • 87% of patients were on psychiatric medication at the time and/or 6 months prior to their suicide.
  • No adverse reactions were reported by any member of DHB staff

But hey, the majority of these patients had mental disorders, right? So they would have gone on to kill themselves in any case. That's mere speculation. If DHB's staff base their assessments on speculation then we have a system that is in a complete mess - they certainly speculated that not one of these suicides warranted further investigation by CARM [Centre for Adverse Reaction Monitoring]. That's unprofessional and does nothing to highlight the dangers of these types of medications.

Here's a teaser from information gained:

Children 0 – 19 years

13 children between the ages of 0-19  had died from suicide while having a current or recent (within 6 months) prescription for medication:

DHB: Bay of Plenty
Patient Age: 17
Diagnosis: Eating Disorder, Depression, Suicidal Ideation
Medications: Fluoxetine, Quetiapine, Omeprazole, Minocycline, Osteo500, Cholecalciferol, Multivitamins, Thiamine

DHB: Canterbury
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Psychosis, early onset of Schizophrenia
Medications: Clozapine, Omeprazole, Moclomebide

DHB: Capital & Coast
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depressive Episode
Medications: Citalopram, Zopiclone, Doxycycline

DHB: Capital & Coast
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Paranoid schizophrenia
Medications: Risperdal

DHB: Capital & Coast
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]
Medications: Citalopram, Quetiapine, Thyroxine, Clonazepam, Zopiclone

DHB: Nelson Marlborough
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depression
Medications: Quetiapine, Citalopram, Lorazepam

DHB: Nelson Marlborough
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Major depression, Mental and behavioural disorder due to cannabis use, dependence syndrome, Social phobia
Medications: Venlafaxine, Quetiapine

DHB: Tairawhiti
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: No diagnosis
Medications: Citalopram

DHB: Tairawhiti
Patient Age: 19
Diagnosis: Schizophrenia - disorganised type
Medications: Aripiprazole

DHB: Waitemata
Patient Age: 17
Diagnosis: No diagnosis
Medications: Fluoxetine

DHB: Waitemata
Patient Age: 17
Diagnosis: Schizophrenia - paranoid type, PTSD
Medications: Terazosin, Zopiclone, Fluoxetine, Clozapine, Lorazepam

DHB: Waitemata
Patient Age: 15
Diagnosis: No diagnosis
Medications: Citalopram

DHB: Whanganui
Patient Age: 18
Diagnosis: Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD
Medications: Mirtazapine, Temazepam

The minute a patient is prescribed an antidepressant type medication they are deemed mentally ill, they have, we are told, an illness of the brain, a chemical imbalance. The chemical imbalance theory is just that, a theory. It has been debunked time and time again yet medical professionals still continue to prescribe first and ask questions later. Latest research suggests that professionals prescribe antidepressant type medication because they fear a backlash from coroners should a patient under their care kill themselves. So, in essence, the prescribing physician is looking after his/her own welfare rather than the welfare of the patient, right?

In an article published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Professor Roger Mulder, head of psychological medicine at Otago University, writes, "the situation has created a mythology with no evidence to support it, a sense of unease among clinicians and a culture of blame when things go wrong".

Mulder said he now believed traditional psychiatric models of suicide prediction and prevention were not working.

Adding, "Very few psychiatric interventions have been shown to reduce the incidence of suicide" .

Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, said Mulder's article was thought-provoking and "worthy of consideration by all working in this troublesome area".

Will the NZ government think the same, will SPINZ or the DHB's of New Zealand think Mulder's article is worthy of consideration or will they continue to blindly prescribe medications that are known to increase suicide?

If drugging patients does not prevent suicide then why drug them in the first place?

But the DHB's have never said that psychiatric medication prevents suicide, maybe so but they've never come out publicly and said that an alarming number of people on these drugs have gone on to complete suicide whilst under their care. Quite why they have never raised alarms baffles me. The information collected will also show that not one single staff member of any DHB in New Zealand saw fit to report suicide as an adverse reaction - One has to ask why?

The NZ media have, it seems, been duped too. Any story regarding suicide appearing in newspapers is always followed by helplines:

Youth Services
Depression Helpline

All of which are run by mental health services.

It's a guideline they have to follow because the NZ government said so.

Only recently have the media started adding CASPER, a suicide charity set up by Maria Bradshaw, a charity that takes no government money, a charity that never turns callers to mental health.

One look at the statistics and you can see why CASPER tend to talk rather than refer to mental health.

The findings will be released soon. They have been in my possession for a while, it is now just a matter of writing up a paper with Maria Bradshaw and then submitting that paper to a medical journal.

This is not just two people gathering information and coming up with figures plucked from the air. These are official figures never seen before. Figures that have been carefully scrutinized by both myself , Bradshaw and a scientific adviser.

If Chief Coroner, Judge Neil MacLean, thinks Mulder's article was thought-provoking then he may just think the findings from the suicides under the care of NZ DHB's may just warrant a full inquiry into the safety and efficacy of these medications, it may also change Coroners views that antidepressant type medications do not cause a person to take their own life.

In fact, the first question a Coroner should ask when dealing with suicides at inquests is, was this patient on medication at the time of his/her death? They then will have a much clearer path to the truth. They will then give a voice to the deceased... to protect the living.

In truth, the NZ government already know about the suicide link to antidepressant type medication. They've turned a blind eye to the admittance of Mylan Pharmaceuticals assessment of a patient who suicided whilst on one of their products, that product was Fluox, more commonly known as Prozac. Both Mylan Pharmaceuticals and the New Zealand drug regulator Medsafe, concluded that the probable cause of Toran Henry's death was the Fluox he was taking. The rating of ‘probable’ includes an assessment that Toran’s suicide was ‘unlikely to be attributed to disease or other drugs.’. The assessment came about because Toran's mother filed an adverse reaction report, something the New Zealand DHB's failed to do for the patients who suicided whilst under their care [More on Mylan's admission here]

Did Mylan change the labelling after their findings?

Did Medsafe issue warnings to the medical profession after their findings?

A resounding NO to both questions.

Were they legally obliged to? Were they morally obliged to? [See SSRi's - Changes to the Labeling]

Will the NZ government and Medsafe do nothing when they learn that 87% of patients were receiving medication when they suicided under the care of mental health between the years 2007-2010?

Moreover, will the DHB's be hauled over the coals for not filing adverse reaction reports?

That remains to be seen.

Given the recent news that suicide costs NZ businesses $1.6 billion it could be suggested that the NZ mental health approach is not only not working, it's making matters worse on a human and economic level.

The DHB findings will be made public sometime in the near future.

I'll leave the last words to Irish psychiatrist, Patricia Casey, whom I doubt will believe anything put in front of her that alters her blinkered views about antidepressants.

Bob Fiddaman

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Ian Smith Vs Ian Smith

Quite an unusual title for a blog eh? Ian Smith Vs Ian Smith. I'll explain.

Mr Ian Smith is a UK Coroner for South and East Cumbria in the UK.

His namesake, Ian Smith, is also a Coroner in New Zealand, this Smith works from Marlborough and Nelson in the south island.

The UK's Ian Smith was quite vocal regarding antidepressant use. In 2004 Smith undertook an inquest. 42-year-old  Dickon Abbott had hanged himself. The inquest learned that Abbott was in the middle of switching medication from Effexor (venlafaxine) to Seroxat (paroxetine). [1]

In his summation, Smith concluded that he had dealt with two other suicides which happened when the person was changing medication and pressed for more research.

Let's leave the UK's Ian Smith for now...we shall come back to him later.

In 2007 New Zealand's Ian Smith headed an inquest where a 53-year-old Nelson man had been prescribed the SSRI Aropax (paroxetine) days before his death on July 27 2006. [2]

Coroner Smith found the man's death to be self-inflicted, and said he would be releasing full findings as part of his report on SSRIs and suicide.

Back to the UK's Coroner Smith.

In March 2008, at the inquest of retired bank manager Nigel Woodburn, Mr Smith spoke of a link between antidepressants and suicide. Here's a direct quote from Smith: [3]

“I have to say this is probably the fifth, if not sixth inquest I’ve heard within a period of three years when somebody either just going on to Citalopram or Seroxat, or coming off it, have killed themselves one way or another, totally out of the blue, totally without expectation, without a history of suicidal thoughts in the past.” 

Just one month later Coroner Smith was once again making headlines in the UK. This time regarding yet another inquest whereby a 56-year-old farmer, Philip Morton, had hanged himself. [4]

Smith, once again, was vocal, telling the media that he had dealt with six to eight cases in a short period where people had taken their lives days after starting antidepressant drugs and he had reported these concerns to the health authorities despite coming under criticism for speaking out.

Let's flick back to his namesake in New Zealand.

In July 2007 Smith recommended that New Zealand's warnings be strengthened to the level of those adopted by the United States, which requires a strong black-box warning on prescription information. Smith made recommendations that GPs and mental health professionals made sure patients and their families were "appraised very fully'' of the risks of the use of SSRIs and other antidepressant medication. [5]

Nelson Marlborough District Health Board mental health clinical director Heather McPherson disagreed with Smith, "I think he has rather overstated the connection between SSRIs and suicide,'' she told The Nelson Mail.

In October of the same year Smith released his findings on the death of real estate agent Peter Michael Noonan, 53. [6]

Noonan was prescribed the SSRI Aropax (paroxetine) days before his death in July 2006.

His wife, Gaile Noonan, told the Nelson Mail that she hoped Mr Smith's findings would be taken on board by the medical profession.

"We would like to think someone else could be protected from having these things happen.''

Back to the UK's Ian Smith...

In 2011 Coroner Smith recorded a narrative verdict in the death of 62-year-old Janis Colvin. Colvin had hanged herself. [7] Here's Smith...

“Mental illness is still misunderstood by most people. I wish it could be got across to the public that having mental health problems is just the same as having a dodgy heart.
“Suicide involves two things; an action to lead to your own death and being in control of mental faculties. In this instance Mrs Colvin was taken over by this depression."

This after evidence was shown at the inquest of Colvin that she had been prescribed medication and had never spoken about harming herself.

Smith, it seems, had forgotten about his concerns in 2004 and 2008.

Back to New Zealand...

In 2008 New Zealand's Ian Smith became vocal again. He reiterated strong recommendations about the treatment of depressed patients, this after the death of Appleby man, Jeremy Reece Fortune, who walked into the path of an oncoming heavy truck while in a state of severe depression on May 14 2007 [8]

Smith did not rule Mr Fortune's death self-inflicted but in his findings he stressed the need to make sure patients on SSRIs were made aware of their risks in line with the US black-box warnings.

New Zealand's Smith hasn't been vocal since then.

Why would two coroners from opposite sides of the world flag the SSRI/Suicide link yet not investigate it thoroughly?

Why would two coroners raise concerns then, it appears, have little or no concerns?

Both Smith's felt the need to raise the alarm about SSRIs and suicide, remember none of these suicide victims were children, they were all mature adults. Both Smith's came under fire for raising the alarms.

Is this the reason that both these professional men decided not to be outspoken any more about SSRIs and suicide? Was it the criticism they faced or was it something else? Both are coroners, both have a duty to get to the truth, both have a duty to prevent further deaths, both are supposed to give voices to the dead.

It appears, to me at least, that both Smith's were genuinely concerned about the risk of taking SSRIs. They banged their drums for a while then fell silent.

One has to ask why?

Bob Fiddaman

Special mention to the highly informative blogger Brian and his excellent website AntiDepAware.

[1] Poet took own life
[2] Last case on drug, death link - The Nelson Mail - Mar 20, 2007
[3] Suicidal Drugs Fears of Coroner
[4] Coroner's Warning Over Antidepressant Drugs
[5] Warning of depression drugs risk - The Nelson Mail Jul 7, 2007
[6] Findings on drug risk welcomed
[7] Mental Illness Led to Woman's Death
[8] Fresh Call on Antidepressants

Friday, July 05, 2013

Coroner Slams One Suicide at Capital and Coast DHB

The New Zealand Herald are reporting that Coroner Garry Evans has slammed Capital & Coast District Health Board for its inadequate treatment of a man who killed himself after being discharged from Wellington Hospital.

This is quite a deal in New Zealand as Coroners rarely allow reporting on suicides... apparently reporting on suicides makes people want to go out and kill themselves. Yeh, right.

39-year-old Bryan John Eastwood was, as we've come to expect in these types of cases, given antidepressants to help his alcohol addiction and also to help him sleep. He'd recently separated from his wife and lost his job and was deemed to be 'anxious' by his prescribing healthcare professional.

The Herald writes:

"Two days later he went to his GP feeling "anxious and miserable" and was given anti-depressants and medication to help him with sleeping and alcohol withdrawal.
On March 13, Mr Eastwood went to Wellington Hospital's emergency department after overdosing on clonazepam and drinking up to 23 units of alcohol.
A risk assessment noted a number of concerning features including alcohol abuse, social isolation, the break-up of a significant relationship, the loss of his job and recent criminal proceedings.
Nonetheless, he was assessed as not wanting to die and, rather, the overdose was considered an attempt to get his wife's attention.
A nurse unsuccessfully tried to contact the on-duty registrar, but Coroner Evans said the telephonist may have been calling the wrong doctor.
The registrar was required to be contacted in such cases but Mr Eastwood was discharged anyway.
Nurses involved in the case commented that there was considerable pressure to discharge clients within six hours due to the hospital's "six-hour rule".

I find it odd that this poor man was deemed as just trying to get his wife's attention considering he was abusing alcohol, was in trouble with the law and was feeling socially isolated. I also find it bizarre that there's a six-hour rule in place for such cases.

Overdosing on a drug such as clonazepam could have been fatal, particularly combined with alcohol.

In the US clonazepam is better known by its brand name, Klonopin.

Former lead singer of Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, had a lot to say about the drug.  “[Klonopin] turned me into a zombie,” she told US Weekly in 2001. Nicks also described the drug as a “horrible, dangerous drug,” and said that her eventual 45-day hospital detox and rehab from the drug felt like “somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell.” [1]

In 2009, Roche, the manufacturer of Klonopin in the US, issued a warning to prescribers of clonazepam stating that, "Roche would like to advise you of a recent change to the Klonopin Prescribing Information (WARNINGS and PRECAUTIONS sections). Based on pooled analysis of eleven antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) performed by the FDA, a class warning for increased risk of suicidality (suicidal behavior or ideation) is now required for all AEDs (including Klonopin)." [2]

Yay the coroner for allowing media reporting on this, he did so to promote public safety. Maybe though he should have dug deeper, he may have found that it was quite wrong to give such a drug to a vulnerable patient, furthermore, the drug in question, as admitted by its own manufacturers, increases the risk of suicidality.

As for Capital & Coast, they are under the radar with a recent request I made to all the DHB's in New Zealand.

I've learned from the data they sent me that between the years 2007-2010 there were 40 suicides from patients under their care, 37 of whom were on medication at the time of their suicides. 10 of those 37 were, coincidentally, taking clonazepam within the six months prior to their deaths.

If a member of the public can access information like this then I'm sure coroners can.

I'm just baffled why they don't.

Bob Fiddaman

[1] Is This the World's Deadliest Pill?
[2] Klonopin® Tablets (clonazepam) WARNING

Monday, March 04, 2013

St Matenga of Aotearoa

Coroner Gordon Matenga

Self proclaimed saint, Gordon Matenga, has landed himself in hot water here in New Zealand... and I'm not talking about the natural hot springs of Rotarua.

Matenga is a coroner.

He's also a Mormon [latter day saint] whose church believes its followers are modern day saints.

I've never been one to follow any religion, for me all of them are ancient ramblings, Chinese whispers if you will, borne out of boredom and used to either keep the elders in control and/or amusement whilst sitting around a camp fire.

I mean, come on, one only has to look at the decline of religious footsteps to the church on Sunday's to see that people have found other things to keep them amused.

I may be totally wrong, I may burn in hell for my beliefs  I may even offend people with my non-religious stance but, hey ho, I can't do any worse than Coroner Gordon Matenga.

Matenga was recently assigned to look into the suicide of Corporal Douglas Hughes, a 26 year old New Zealand soldier. His investigation concluded that no inquest was needed.

Here's where the controversy starts.

Hughes, according to news reports, was dealing with a number of emotional issues, including struggling with his sexuality. It's been learned that before his suicide he had confided and confessed his feelings for a male colleague of his. His advances were rejected and  Hughes was later forced into a lengthy meeting with his  sergeant and the soldier who had confessed his feelings to. After the meeting, Hughes took his life. His family allege he had been subject to serious bullying and mockery by defence force personnel as a result of his sexuality.

Now, Matenga is a Mormon, a latter day [self-proclaimed] saint whose church condemns homosexuality. Clearly, however, his beliefs on homosexuality should not influence any ruling he may make.

But a growing number of critics are calling for Matenga to resign after it was learned that he had put a submission before MPs opposing gay marriage just three months prior to declining to open an inquest into the death of Corporal Douglas Hughes. Matenga had submitted 5 points that opposed same sex marriage.

One of his arguments was:

"A man and a woman are required to produce children. There is no other way. Same sex couples cannot, without intervention produce a child. Therefore, to allow a couple of the same sex to marry would serve no useful purpose as it relates to children"

Assuming one wanted children that is, Mr Matenga.

His full submission to parliament can be downloaded here.

It seems rather odd that this human being who, on a daily basis, plays the role of God when trying to determine why someone died, should feel he has the right to try and play God outside of his job as coroner.

To add insult to injury to the surviving members of the Hughes family, Matenga has suppressed all details relating to the corporal’s death which includes the Defence Force court of inquiry report.

An inquest is put in place to try and determine all the facts that led to the death of a person and to make recommendations that may prevent future deaths. Matenga, it appears, seems disinterested and many are suggesting that it's because of his religious beliefs on homosexuality.

While the Mormon Church condemns homosexuality without exception, current doctrine for the Mormon religion regarding suicide isn't as black and white as their stance on same sex marriages/relationships.

Suicide, they claim, is something that only God can judge and that there may be circumstances leading to suicide which reduce its sinfulness.

Matenga's job as a Coroner is to help God out by uncovering those circumstances. Sadly, he chose to close all doors for the remaining family members - leaving them in limbo and to pick up the pieces, jigsaws that will never lock in to place because one man has denied them that one opportunity to understand what led their son to end his life.

The church must be very proud of Gordon Matenga today.

I don't know what it is about coroners, excuse the pun but a good coroner is a dying breed.

Matenga isn't the first coroner in New Zealand to surround himself with controversy.

Whilst writing about the inquest of 17 year old Takapuna teen, Toran Henry, I learned that the presiding coroner was Murray Jaimeson.

Jamieson was a former gynaecological registrar who was embroiled in NewZealand's largest health scandal when he and his boss conducted experiments on women without their consent which led to a number of them dying or being seriously disabled. Following a Royal Commission of Inquiry, Jamieson resigned from medicine and did a law degree, then became a coroner.

During the Inquiry, a letter published by the New Zealand Medical Journal surfaced. It was authored by Dr Murray Jamieson.

Jaimeson, speaking of cervical cancer, starts off with a religious rant about Apostles, Herod Agrippa and the Roamn dictaror, Sulla.

In his letter, Jaimeson, refers to women as "promiscuous"

"Our young people are becoming more permissive and promiscuous. An epidemic of cervical cancer, especially among our younger women, follows inexorably from these premises. True, the victims are not eaten of worms, but gnawed away by cancer (or fear of it)...the wages of sex is a positive smear."

Exactly what was Jamieson implying here, that young women are sluts?

The Cartwright Inquiry 1988 can be downloaded HERE.

So much for New Zealand's independent judiciary, at least when it comes to investigating sudden and unexpected deaths. No wonder families are asking whether the findings of inquests are a product of objective investigation or their coroner's religious views.

Bob Fiddaman


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Baby Matthew's Voice Is Finally Heard

I've highlighted the story of Matthew Schultz on my blog many times in the past. Matthew was just two hours old when he died in the arms of his parents Christiane and Amery. Christiane had been taking the powerful antidepressant Effexor during her pregnancy and shortly after giving birth to Matthew it became apparent that he had breathing problems. Two hours later he was pronounced dead, leaving both Christiane and Amery in complete shock, leaving them with many questions that hospital staff could not answer.

Upon learning of the dangers of taking SSRi/SNRi medication during pregnancy, the Schultz family started to ask questions, once again nobody could give them any definitive answer.

Matthew died Feb. 21, 2009, some two and a half years later a glimmer of progress has been made toward creating an awareness about the dangers of antidepressant use during pregnancy.

Yesterday, Kamloops This Week,[KTS] a local newspaper, broke the news that the Royal Inland Hospital, where Matthew was born, had deemed, via their perinatal review committee, that there was “value” in exploring the issues raised by the Schultz family. "The review", writes KTS, "has been forwarded to RIH’s quality committee, another group that can continue to study the issue."

Christiane and Amery have never given up in their battle, in doing so they have created an awareness for pregnant mothers and those wanting to fall pregnant. In their pain they may just have allowed another couple to experience the joy of life, an unselfish act that should be commended.

I salute you both.

Full story HERE

More about Matthew HERE

The following video was made with the permission of the Schultz family.

RIP Little Man.




Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Hours With Matthew - The Story of "Effexor Baby", Matthew Schultz.

Over the years I have been writing this blog I have come across some truly heart rending stories with regard to the loss of life. I've spoken at length with parents of those who have fallen foul to the greed of pharmaceutical companies, strived to highlight the truth that the mainstream media are too afraid to publish for fear of lawsuits hanging over their heads from manufacturers of antidepressants who wish to keep the truth within the confines of their vaults. Up to now, I've never really dived into the death of newborns, those unfortunate souls who died within months, weeks, days, and in the case of Matthew Schultz, hours.

Matthew was born on February 21, 2009. His parents, Amery and Christiane, spent just two hours with him before he passed away. He weighed just 7 pounds 3 ounces. He went into cardiac arrest shortly after he was born.

Matthew died from Effexor exposure, although at the time his parents didn't know this. Why would they? Effexor carried no warning. Neither Amery or Christiane were warned about the potential dangers of taking Effexor whilst pregnant, they were told many, many times that Effexor was safe.

Matthew's mother had been taking Effexor during her pregnancy, she was prescribed it by her doctor, who had diagnosed that she was suffering with "severe chronic depression", as a matter of fact, Christiane had been taking Effexor for 8 years prior to giving birth to Matthew.

"Christiane was never really truly depressed", recalls husband Amery, "Effexor never really changed her moods at all. However, once Christiane was on Effexor she found it almost impossible to get off." Amery added, ".. they turned her into an emotional zombie. Although she still had depressive symptoms, she never truly had happy moments."

During her 8 years on Effexor, Christiane had given birth to three other children, two of them were born with heart murmers whilst the third was born extremely under-weight at full term and also had a lung disorder. At no point did doctors associate Effexor being the causation of the three children being born with defects.

During her pregnancy with Matthew, Christiane asked the OBGYN, the physician who specializes in medical and surgical care to women with expertise in pregnancy, childbirth, if it was safe to take Effexor whilst pregnant. The reply, recalls Amery, was, "Women take this stuff all the time, we don't see any problem with it."

Christiane recounts on an early blog post of hers that both her and husband, Amery, had done a lot of research since their son had died. She writes:

Since Matthew died, we have done a lot of research. Turns out that my antidepressants have serious side effects. Not only to me, but my children through me. That would explain why out of 5 pregnancies, I have had something wrong with all of them. And why each subsequent pregnancies were more and more difficult.

Furthermore, both Christiane and Amery supplied their doctor with large amounts of evidence regarding Effexor and infant death they had obtained off the internet. Their doctor was astonished.

Too little, too late for Amery and Christiane.

The Canadian drug regulator, Health Canada, have, in the past, issued warnings to doctors regarding taking SSRi/SNRi medication whilst pregnant. This, however, is just not implemented, in fact, doctor's don't even have to read any warnings they get from Health Canada.

On June 28, 2004 some 5 years before Matthew was born, the FDA and Wyeth [Effexor's then manufacturer] issued a new MedWatch drug Alert to healthcare professionals: [1]

"Neonates exposed to Effexor, other SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), late in the third trimester of pregnancy have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding."

This information was sent out to the medical profession in America. Two years later, in 2006, Health Canada issued a warning to all pregnant women considering becoming pregnant that SSRI drugs similar to Effexor may pose life-threatening risks to their babies. Nursing mothers were also warned that SSRIs could be secreted in milk and could have an effect on nursing infants. [2]

So, why, if this information was out there, did Christiane continue taking Effexor?

It's simple really, the public are rarely told by the medical profession about such warnings because the doctor's, nurses, OBGYN's, psychiatrists, rarely read the warnings. Like the UK, there is no system in place to make the medical profession read the warnings. The regulator has a clear conscience because they can profess that they did everything to warn about the dangers.

We know that's bullshit, right?

If the CEO of Health Canada saw his daughter climbing into a rubber dinghy and he knew that rubber dinghy had two holes in it, do you honestly think he would send her a letter of warning?

Of course not, it's absurd.

With millions of dollars spent on the promotion of these drugs, is it too much to ask Health Canada, or any other regulator for that matter, that when a warning as severe as death occurs, they shout it from the rooftops rather than send a letter that may never be opened by the recipient?

It's common sense really...then again, if Health Canada are anything like the British drug regulator, the MHRA, common sense won't be in their dictionary.

Amery and Christiane have been at loggerheads with their coroner regarding Matthew's death. In February, 2011, Amery received the final coroner's report. It was delivered to him on the 21st February, Matthew's 2nd birthday and 2nd anniversary of his death.

Fantastic timing huh?

What is utterly perverse about the coroner's report is that Coroner Robert Saunders, Province of British Columbia, stated that there was no anatomical or toxicological cause of death. Yet under the heading, "Other Significant Conditions Contributing to Death", Exposure to venlafaxine in utero is listed? Furthermore, the coroner adds that this is "Natural" [See pic below]

Click to enlarge

In essence, Saunders is stating that it is natural for anyone to die after being exposed to Effexor in utero.

Amery, obviously, was incensed, who wouldn't be? This prompted him to write a blog entitled, "How far could your head be up your ass?" He opens with the paragraph;

This past week I recieved what is supposed to be the final report from the Coroner on Matthew’s brief life and death. As I allude to in the title of this posting, the presiding coroners have their heads firmly implanted in their collective asses. I have taken the liberty of uploading the three pages of the report here. The irony of this report being issued on Matthew’s second birthday was not lost on us.

One has to question the insensitivity of the coroner here. He can't claim to not know the date of Matthew's death as it is plastered all over the report, so why send it out to parents on what would have been such a sombre date for them?

The Coroners Service of British Columbia is responsible for the investigation of all unnatural, sudden and unexpected, unexplained or unattended deaths. It makes recommendations to improve public safety and prevent death in similar circumstances.[3]

I've said in previous articles I have wrote that coroner's deal with death on a daily basis, seeing a dead body is like eating a bowl of cornflakes, it's such a regular occurrence but for crying out loud, show some tact when sending out reports to grieving parents!

Amery and I have corresponded over the years. I feel for him and I also greatly admire him. Yet again, life has been snatched away from loving parents, a life that was not given a chance because a greedy pharmaceutical company and an inept medicines regulator failed in their duty to give Matthew Schultz a chance of life. It's a despicable act and one that should never be forgotten.



Further reading

Matthew's Facebook page

**The following video contains images that some viewers may find deeply upsetting. It is with the wishes of both parents that these pictures be shown to highlight the dangers of taking SSRi/SNRi medication whilst pregnant.