Generic Paxil Suicide Lawsuit

Citizens Commission on Human Rights Award Recipient (Twice)
Humanist, humorist

Sunday, November 01, 2009


An article that has appeared in the Independent newspaper has been sent to me. Thanks to Truthman, Ruth, Cyndi.

It is a report on Britain's epidemic of pill addiction. The Independent writes:

"The Department of Health has launched a review of the million-plus patients addicted to prescribed drugs in the UK in a tacit admission that attempts to control the problem over the last two decades have failed."

The article adds;

On Tuesday, Lord Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, is to seek details of the Government review in the House of Lords and will say how the problem of addiction has impacted his own family.

He said: “Since January a member of my family has been suffering from acute withdrawal from this prescribed drug [a benzodiazepine]: his dreadful symptoms mean he is confined to his room, unable to work and attend to his family. He receives no government or medical support because there is none.”

A familiar story to those of us that are or ever have been hooked on antidepressants. Remember, SSRi's are not addictive, at least according to the manufacturers and medicines regulator. Benzo's are addictive, for some time now many advocates have been saying the same about SSRi's. Will it take a a member of the Knighthood to highlight the dangers of SSRi's because one of his family members has been affected by them?

The BNF is a guidebook for doctors, it is updated every six months. The current information for benzo's is pretty thorough whilst the information for guidance on SSRi withdrawal is poor, in fact it is very poor.

I cannot go into too much detail but there are movements behind the scenes, the wheels have already been set in motion to edit the poor guidance in the BNF.

Are SSRi's addictive?

The difficulty here lies in those individuals who make claims that 'they had no trouble withdrawing' - I don't dispute that they did but it appears that the MHRA treat these sort of anecdotal reports with a gold star whilst reports of patients suffering withdrawal are currently logged and... well, that's pretty much it.

Last week, Janice Simmons of the Seroxat User Group and I met with the Communications Director of the MHRA, Simon Gregor. I have previously wrote about that meeting here.

We covered the 'addiction' problem quite extensively. Where the MHRA are failing [and they know it] is the system set up to report adverse drug reactions [Yellow Card]

The system, I believe, is not robust enough to collect and correlate data. There is NO mandatory law that states a doctor MUST report an adverse event of a drug. Patients remain largely unaware that such a reporting system exists and many doctors surgeries only carry the odd few yellow cards [normally in the back cover of the BNF]

Credit has to be given to the MHRA for realising that their system is flawed, it has taken them long enough but things are about to change. Simon told both Janice and I that a pilot scheme is soon to be set up in the UK that will try to encourage more reporting of adverse drug reactions from patients. I liked the idea and, I believe, it will improve the current system.

The MHRA are aware that the need to do more to encourage people to report adverse drug reactions is paramount [by both patients and doctors] and this 'pilot scheme' is a step in the right direction. We also spoke about the importance of a wide range of healthcare professionals being "in the loop" both on Yellow Card reporting and on new information/warnings about drugs eg pharmacists, coroners.

The pilot scheme will be launched soon and will involve a promotional push for reporting ADR's.

The failure of the Yellow Card system has been highlighted by many. Charles Medawar was banging the drum about the 'flawed system' many years ago when transparency at the MHRA didn't exist. Myself and Janice and other advocates have also heavily criticised the system over the years.

If enough people bang the drum, the MHRA will not be able to cover their ears from the noise.

I will criticise the MHRA on here and in person if they appear to be failing in certain areas and I will also applaud them if I feel they are doing right. With the pilot scheme they should take a bow. I just hope that it is not a PR exercise to stifle its critics. I genuinely believe it is not.



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