Generic Paxil Suicide Lawsuit

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

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Professor Graham Burrows - The "Cosmetic Psychiatrist?" [Updated 7.34pm]

 Professor Graham Burrows: "I don’t think there’s anyone in the world today who could emphatically say how an anti-depressant works." 

As Australian psychiatrist Professor Graham Burrows defends his corner against recent allegations of over medicating patients, misdiagnosing and bed-hopping with the pharmaceutical industry, many of his former patients are trying to get their lives back on track. Burrows, is, it appears, a firm believer in the pharmaceutical products he prescribes - one such product is GSK's Seroxat, known as Aropax in Australia and Paxil in the US and Canada.

In a 2002 short documentary Burrows claimed that shyness was a treatable condition, treatable with Aropax. In fact much of Burrows' statements from the 2002 transcript leave me wondering whether he was merely promoting GSK's product, I think it fair to make that assumption, tell me what you think:

Narration: Paxil or Aropax as it’s known in Australia is one of the Prozac-like antidepressants. And while many psychologists say they meddle with human nature, psychiatrists like Graham Burrows claim they’re merely much-need medications.

Professor Graham Burrows: I don’t consider it meddling if in fact this person is suffering so much that it’s interfering with their life that they want to be changed. They want to feel more comfortable, they want to be able to deal with the social situations. They want to enjoy life when they’re not enjoying life. That couldn’t really be called meddling.

The narrator continued by announcing that Burrows believed that up 13% of Australians had "chronic shyness" and more than half of them probably need permanent medication to turn their lives around.

Opposing this was psychologist Dr Sallee McLauren:

"One of the central things with people who suffer from anxiety is the sense of powerlessness. They think that they cannot control the anxiety. Now this is simply not true. We can certainly learn to manage that anxiety. That’s why it’s very important for people who suffer from anxiety not to just adopt that passive approach of just popping a pill. It’s very important instead to learn how to be an agent in your own life. So how to stand up to the anxiety".

Here's Burrows response to McLauren:

"That’s not true and I’d disagree with that sort of opinion and that’s often a divided opinion between psychologists and psychiatrists, it depends who you go to because there are people who have claimed that the person can be well, but in fact when you take them off the medication they get bad again and you get back into the CBT and they still have problems, that’s when they have to face the fact that this person needs medication."

"When you take them off the medication they get bad again?"

Did it, or indeed does it, ever occur to Burrows that they 'get bad again' due to the side-effects of the drug they are taking? Furthermore, to just take someone off Aropax is not recommended as the withdrawal symptoms can be horrendous.

Here, Burrows defies all the odds with one of the most eye-opening claims I have ever seen from a psychiatrist:

"There are people who have abnormal biochemistry in their brain. We can show that by blood tests. We can show that with positron emission tomography a neuro-imaging technique. We’ve done some studies to show that they actually have altered chemistry and by giving them the medication, their chemistry is converted back to normal if you like and they don’t have the anxiety and the depression they had beforehand."

First and foremost, THERE IS NO PROVEN PET SCAN to diagnose mental disorders.

Positron Emission Tomography, more commonly known as a PET scan is a pretty daunting procedure and one that doctors [GP's] certainly don't carry out before handing out psychiatric drugs, in fact, many of Burrows former patients have come forward to complain that he over-medicated them, one such patient claimed that Burrows prescribed him/her a psychiatric drug after just 30 seconds of diagnosis! If true, how did Burrows know his patient had a disorder?

The PET scanner is a ring-shaped apparatus with an attached table. You will lie on the scanning table, and the table will slide slowly through the opening in the scanner ring. One or two scans might be taken before the tracer is administered. After this initial scanning, either you will inhale the tracer or it will be injected into one of your veins, usually in your arm. Additional scans will be taken while the tracer is in your body.

During the scanning procedure, you must lie very still. The scanning table will glide you through the PET scanner, so you won't need to move. If your head is being scanned, special cushions may be placed against your head to hold it in place. The entire scan should take 30 minutes to two hours. Afterward, you can go home and resume your normal activities. [Source]

So if it takes a PET scan between 30 minutes and 2 hours plus the time taken for a medical team to assess the images caught, how can Burrows, or indeed any healthcare professional diagnose a patient with a 'mental disorder' based on a brief consultation? More importantly, if the PET scan is, once again, just based on theory it makes the whole process of dishing out psychiatric medication a complete nonsense, an unproven science with unproven disorders treated with unproven drugs.

The clincher, if a clincher was needed, of the 2002 short documentary come when Burrows made the following statement:

"I don’t think there’s anyone in the world today who could emphatically say how an anti-depressant works – whichever antidepressant group and having said that we do know a lot of chemistry about what actually occurs. Now I sometimes say does anyone know what electricity is, but we use it."

If Burrows can find the time I suggest he do a Google search, simply type in, "How does electricity work?"

In fact, Burrows should know how electricity works, in a study he co-authored [MJA 2007; 186 (3): 142-144] the use of electroconvulsive therapy is cited as being "the most effective treatment for severe depression."

Google the term, "How does electroconvulsive therapy work?" and you will find that nobody knows how it actually works, it's all based on theory, same as the chemical imbalance theory promoted by GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturers of Aropax.

The procedure for electroconvulsive therapy [ECT] is, for want of a better word, Frankensteinian. The treatment involves placing electrodes on the temples, on one or both sides of the patient's head, and delivering a small electrical current across the brain.

We know electricity can be dangerous if used incorrectly, after all, we wouldn't tell a child to go and stick his or her wet fingers into a live plug socket would we? We'd warn them of the dangers, the risks.

Children today are being prescribed psychiatric medication, the number is growing and it will grow larger if programs, such as Patrick McGorry's EPPIC program is not opposed. McGorry claims he can predict if a child will fall foul of a 'mental illness' in future years. The Australian government seem to back him, having thrown millions of dollars in is direction.

As Burrows rightly states, "I don’t think there’s anyone in the world today who could emphatically say how an anti-depressant works." Yet antidepressants are prescribed despite the medical and psychiatric profession not knowing how they work on the brain. If they don't know how antidepressants work then they won't know how to combat the side effects and, I put it to Burrows et al, that they are not in a position to defend the huge number of claims that antidepressant medication can cause those taking them to commit suicide or homicidal acts, all of which have been well documented.

Incidently, The a plus project was promoted in Burrows' Depression Awareness Journal (which was funded by GSK). The project saw starter packs being handed out to patients in 2002, around the same time the documentary was made. Counselling was offered to patients on the proviso that they continued taking Glaxo's drug, Aropax!

Burrows' (2002) editorial:

We also examine the a plus project, a partnership of patients, GPs, pharmacists and psychologists, working together to improve treatment outcomes in depression.

Singh (2002):

The a plus project is a national programme for the treatment of clinical depression which employs a multidisciplinary, cooperative approach to ensure patients achieve the maximum benefit from their treatment. The a plus project is an example of a healthcare partnership in action, as it adopts a cooperative mental health approach featuring GPs, pharmacists, psychiatrists, psychologists and patients. (p. 8)

According to Singh, the a plus project was developed to improve the treatment received by GP patients: 'It was in response to such unmet community need that the a plus project was devised' (p. 10).

Singh likened the a plus project to beyondblue:

Australia recently witnessed another first in the treatment of depression building on the major national initiative of beyondblue. (p. 8)

Burrows, Graham D. (2002, June). From the Editor in Chief. Depression Awareness Journal, 11, inside front cover.

Singh, Bruce. (2002, June). The a plus project: A partnership in action. Depression Awareness Journal, 11, pp. 8-11.

[Professor Singh is and was a prominent, influential psychiatrist.]

Memo to Burrows:

If you are going to promote the use of Aropax for shyness, here's an idea - find out how it works and what the possible implications are when taking it. Until you have all the answers and scientific data may I suggest that you promote products that have been scientifically tested and that have been proven to be safe and effective - a simple cup of tea could be right up your street, make sure you are careful when plugging in that electric kettle though.

PS - Shyness IS NOT a mental disorder...unless you can prove otherwise?

**If you, or anyone you know, is struggling withdrawal problems with GlaxoSmithKline's Aropax [Seroxat/Paxil], contact GSK directly and ask them for help. If they refer you to your doctor, please contact me by email. [Email address in left hand sidebar]

Transcript segments taken from COSMETIC PSYCHOLOGY, ABC Television.

Related Articles:

The Marketing of Aropax in Australia and the A Plus Project

Australian Psychiatrist Graham Burrows Denies Any "Wrongdoing"

Are The Wheels Coming Off Patrick McGorry's DeLorean?

News 7: More Complaints Against Prof Graham Burrows

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