Zantac Lawsuit

Researching drug company and regulatory malfeasance for over 16 years
Humanist, humorist

Friday, June 29, 2012

CafePharma Boards

Was browsing through the boards over at CafePharma earlier, I enjoy reading some of the threads on the GlaxoSmithKline page where disgruntled employees, many of them reps, attack the likes of Andrew... [**coughs]...sorry, Sir Andrew Witty.

I'm sure many of the anonymous posters on these boards are legit and are genuinely miffed about the company they work for. Long hours, promises of bonuses, changes in company mantra, promoting drugs off-label to doctors whilst wining and dining them or bringing their staff in coffee from Starbucks or donuts from the company that tell you to 'dunk them'

With what seems like a bitchin' pot of messages to Glaxo it surprises me that none of the disgruntled army of ex and current employees have ever thought about blowing the whistle on those they target.

Sure, it's great to beeatch and off-load your angst against the company but does it really change anything?

Glaxo aren't the only pharmaceutical company that comes under fire, there's different boards for each of the leading pharmaceutical companies, each of which are ladened with current and ex-employees attacking the various policies and management [ahem mismanagement] of the companies they once worked/work for.

I'm writing this in the hope that someone from these boards will pick up on it. By all means carry on bitchin', it makes great reading, but do something about it. Let's face it, the companies you work/ed for don't exactly look after you as they do their key opinion leaders [thought leaders] do they?

When was the last time a rep was given a big, fat meaty cheque for promoting a drug? Okay, they get a wage and, sometimes a bonus [when it's paid on time] but nowhere near to the sums paid to thought leaders such as Karen Wagner, Josef Biederman and/or Marty "bling bling" Keller.

I'd be miffed if I were an employee or ex-employee of major pharmaceutical companies. I'd be pissed at the fact that my employee had used me to promote drugs to children when, in actual fact, my company knew all along that these drugs were not safe for children. I'd be pissed that my company had paid out millions of dollars to thought leaders yet made me work extra-long hours for a mere pittance and a performance based bonus... based on how I could promote drugs for populations that weren't meant for those populations.

I'd be so pissed off with allowing myself to be manipulated by company spin just so I couldn't see the wood through the trees, the dense forest hiding the facts that I had been used as a drug peddler, my objective being to push doctors to prescribe to the vulnerable populations out there... Children.

Hey ho, thankfully I've never been down that road. My conscience is clear.

The bitchin' on CafePharma continues, the main objective, it seems, being just a place to let off steam.

Only way these disgruntled masses can get back at those who treated them with contempt is to start blowing whistles. I'm sure there are many whom have witnessed fraudulent acts against the US government. Whether or not they have been part of these acts is irrelevant - they can and should try to bring about change.

I'm a big fan of US attorneys, Baum Hedlund. They've kicked GlaxoSmithKline's ass to infinity... and beyond on many occasions. They, I'm sure, would welcome employees or ex-employees of big pharma to bitch at them down the phone.

Whistleblower suits are becoming more popular these days, particularly against pharmaceutical companies.

Allen Jones blew the whistle on Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit for promoting the off-label use of Risperdal in children. J&J settled with a payment of $158 million, some of which went Jones' way for blowing the whistle. The settlement came less than a month after J&J officials agreed to pay more than $1 billion to the U.S. and a number of states to end a civil investigation into Risperdal marketing practices.

Cheryl Eckard, who humiliated GlaxoSmithKline with regard to the appalling lapses at their manufacturing plant in Cidra, Puerto Rico, was also paid handsomely for whistleblowing. A cool $96 million went her way.

Helen Ge was a former contractor at Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. She learned that Takeda have been playing down risks of three of their drugs, particularly when combined with other drugs. She was fired from her position when she brought this to the attention of her seniors. She has now filed a whistleblower suit.

The more the merrier, I say.

So, I do hope that this post makes it across cyberspace to CafePharma. I also hope that I can somehow tap into the conscience of those who throw the flames anonymously on the boards over there.

Do what's right. Blow the whistle.

Just click on the image to start the ball rolling.

Alternatively, drop me an email... cos I just love blowing the whistle.

Email me




Monday, June 25, 2012

PAXIL: Unleashed in the East

GlaxoSmithKline have unleashed Paxil CR on Japanese citizens according to the Asahi Shimbun.

It's unknown whether GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical reps will be promoting its use 'off-label' to doctors. Glaxo did, however, carry out a Japanese Paxil study in 7 - 17 year olds a few years back, the results of which proved very little by way of safety and efficacy for this age group.

Despite previous failed clinical trials in children GlaxoSmithKline advertised for children to be part of a new clinical trial in Japan. The promotional poster [Fig 1] showed cartoon images of children feeling sad and tired whilst asking for recruits.

Fig 1

I previously covered Glaxo targeting Japanese children [Links at foot of post] and even telephoned their Japanese HQ to ask for the clinical trial results. Glaxo officials told me that, although the trials had finished, they did not have the results to hand.

With Paxil CR being unleashed I envisage lots of marketing spin from GSK Japan, the poster [above] is just another example of how they target children.

Here's the previous posts regarding Glaxo, Paxil and Japanese children.

Monday, January 12, 2009 - GSK Just won't stop trying to push paroxetine on children!.

Thursday, January 15, 2009 - Email to Japanese Embassy regarding New GSK paroxetine study in Children. Identifier: NCT00812812.

Friday, April 03, 2009 - Email to Ministry of Health - Japan.

Friday, April 03, 2009 - Japan/GSK - 329 All Over Again!.

Saturday, July 25, 2009 - Paxil Study 329 All Over Again?.

Friday, May 21, 2010 - Email To GlaxoSmithKline Re; Paxil Study In Children.

Friday, September 24, 2010 - HEY, GLAXO!... LEAVE THOSE KIDS ALONE.

Friday, May 13, 2011 - Glaxo remain tight-lipped on new Japanese Paxil study in children..

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - GSK JAPAN - PAXIL STUDY IN KIDS UPDATE.

Monday, May 23, 2011 - Are GlaxoSmithKline Japan Putting Children At Danger With Paxil Trial?.

Sunday, October 23, Japanese Paxil Study in Children Proves Very Little




Saturday, June 16, 2012

Ontario Coroner Gives Up Body Parts

Kind of a macabre title for a post doncha think?

Can you imagine, years after saying goodbye to a loved one, you are going about your daily routine, trying desperately hard to remain strong, to fight back the tears... because even after years of apparent healing one still grieves... despite what the DSM tells us all about grief.

In modern day society death is treated with disdain, grief is somebody else's problem as positions of power continue to make mockery of those poor souls that have passed, be they someone's elderly partner or someone's child who, through no fault of their own, fell victim to pharmaceutical madness and greed in life...and a total lack of respect from the Ontario coroner in death.

On Wednesday June 13, the Global Toronto ran with the story that the Ontario coroner had asked families what best to do with 4,000 stored autopsy organs.

Those bereaved didn't even know that the Ontario coroner had stolen/borrowed their loved ones body parts. In my language one first seeks permission when they wish to borrow something of mine... they don't just take.

It appears that the excuse coming out of Ontario is that this was done to spare relatives added grief. What utter codswallop!

Two Ontario deaths spring to mind here, that of Sara Carlin and Brennan McCartney, two teens who both suicided, two teens, both in their prime of life, who were prescribed antidepressants, Sara, Paxil, Brennan, Lexapro.

It's bad enough having to endure burying your own child but to hear news that all of your child's body parts may not have been intact because some horse's ass down at the coroners office decided to play God is tantamount to an index finger being paraded in front of the bereaved.

I'm totally shocked by this abhorrent behaviour, this total lack of respect. What an appalling way to treat human life...even in death.

Dr. Michael Pollanen, the province's chief forensic pathologist,  has openly apologised and, quite unbelievably, added,  "Based on today's standards, we could have communicated more openly with families in the past."

Today's standards?

Does this mean that retaining body parts without the permission of families has been going on for some time in Ontario?

I thought the whole Coroner's Office in Ontario was beyond a joke after the way they dealt with Sara Carlin's inquest. This news leaves me shaking my head in disbelief and wondering who on earth the head honcho in Ontario thinks he is!

Heads should roll for this... metaphorically speaking of course.

Grieving relatives have now been urged to contact the coroner's office to find out whether an organ belonging to a deceased loved one may have been retained. The coroners office have offered to pay for costs and funeral/cremation expenses.


Parents should not have to bury their children, alas it is part of life that some have to.

No parent should ever have to ask a coroner for remains of their child... years after their death.





Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Guest Post: Sertraline Sufferers Stand Up and Be Counted!

Today's guest post comes from Sheila Herd who authors the Prozac Withdrawal blog. Sheila, like many others, feels the need to share her experiences because doctor's, drug companies and medicine regulators seem far too busy burying their heads in the sand.

Here's Sheila's story:

Sertraline Sufferers Stand Up and Be Counted!

It can often seem like it’s all about seroxat (paxil) to us folk struggling with the other SSRI’s; Seroxat Mad, Seroxat Sufferers, Paxil Progress, Seroxat User Group, Seroxat Secrets and so on, which is how this post came about, someone piped up  “hey what about us Sertraline sufferers?”, and then I commented about also being a Sertraline sufferer, we were both invited to do a guest post about Sertraline [Zoloft]

I was prescribed Sertraline in 1998 when I had postnatal depression. I went from deep depression/anxiety to euphoria in the space of about two weeks, I felt pretty damned fantastic and became super mum, there was nothing I couldn’t handle. As time went on I continued to feel well but my emotions were dampened down, so I was functioning well, no depression, but no “joy” either, my libido was totally gone but hell who has time for that anyway with a new baby?

After about five months I decided I was feeling so well I didn’t want to be on Sertraline anymore, didn’t read the patient information leaflet or talk to a doctor, not that that would have helped anyway (hollow laugh). I just stopped taking them. My head felt terrible, it began to feel water logged, if I turned my head there was a time lag between my eye balls catching up with the fact that my head had turned, so dizzy, gradually intense sadness would kick in, really really intense sadness and anxiety, oh the anxiety, pumping adrenaline and nerves shot to bits. I went back on the Sertraline.

The doctor told me to do the alternate day thing, alternate days for a fortnight, then every third day for a fortnight, then one tablet a week, I did this various times over the next few years to no avail. I tried a pill cutter and halving the tablet, it wouldn’t break down easily without crumbling so that was unsuccessful. Every time I tried something, I ended up in worse shape than the time before, it was all getting steadily worse. I tried meditation, healing, exercise, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, fish oil capsules, NOTHING touched it. I pressured my doctor to refer me to a psychiatrist for advice, but she had no clue and could only recommend switching to another drug. I did switch to Citalopram for a while, and Mirtzapine, I felt constant fatigue on Mirtzapine, and then back to Sertraline.

This is my description of how withdrawal felt from my blog, I only recently found out that what was happening had a name, akathisia:

“5am and for about the 3rd night in a row I’ve barely slept, I can’t stop the adrenaline pumping round my body, my stomach is tightly knotted, I’ve barely been able to eat properly it makes me feel sick. I’m clammy, sweating and crying and P is trying to reassure me, but he has to go to work. I get up and drag myself through all the motions of the day and making sure boys get to school, I feel like the living dead, I make sure they get fed and make sure they and no one else is aware of what’s going on, I don’t hang around at the school gates. Oh I do kind of tell a few people I’m not really feeling right but I play it down. The constant adrenaline is tormenting me on the inside and I can’t stop it. It’s been building up over a period of months and I’ve been fighting and fighting the feelings but it seems to have reached a peak of exquisite torture. It’s like being at the top of a roller coaster that never stops. Someone else mentioned birdsong, and it was a funny thing, the torture was worse in the mornings and over the summer months while it was slowly building, birdsong in the morning outside the window had become a kind of torture as well. I had to go to work only 2 days a week and God only knows how I managed it. I had taken my last Sertraline tablet months ago, and come off it as per the doctors instructions, and now my depression/anxiety was back tenfold to punish me for daring to presume I could stop taking it. I must be wired up wrong, no one else feels like this do they? What is wrong with me? Maybe I really am insane, maybe I just can’t cope with life without my tablets, how come everyone else can cope with life, and I can’t? There must be something fundamentally wrong with me. By now the Orwell Bridge was beginning to look a bit attractive and I just wanted to escape the adrenaline surges torturing me, my nerves were in shreds”.

This was 2003, at the end of 2003 I gave in and went back on the sertraline.

I can honestly understand how suicide happens on these drugs.

In 2006 I attempted another withdrawal, at the same time my father in law became terminally ill, I helped a lot with the hospital appointments and helping my mother and father in law to cope while Peter was working in London, I tried toughing out the withdrawals again, and gave in again. I spent my father in laws final days and his funeral in an unnatural state of euphoria from going back on the sertraline.

So here I was, several years later and no further forward, and not for wont of trying! Everytime I went in a book shop or library I would try and find anything I could about antidepressants and depression, but nothing really enlightened me. I rummaged around on the internet but couldn’t find the answers. Until one day, I was browsing around Waterstones, and “Coming off Antidepressants” by Joseph Glenmullen jumped out at me, I read it avidly, and discovered TAPERING!!!  But, all the examples in the book referred to liquid Seroxat or Prozac, I was really upset to find Sertraline was not available in liquid form. Armed with my new information about the simple concept of tapering, further digging led me to Dr Healy’s protocol of switching to the equivalent dose of liquid Prozac. These two pieces of information became my secret hope, I latched onto them. I decided to take a leap of faith and switch to liquid Prozac. At the beginning of 2007 I marked up my calendar with a schedule, I was going to go down from 5ml to 4.90ml the first week, 4.80ml the next week and so on, as my sons would say “epic fail”.  By about mid February the nightmare was unfolding again and I had to give in and go back to the top of my Prozac dose, I was devastated.

Still I hadn’t given up hope, Peter was sympathetic but he couldn’t understand why I didn’t just give it up and accept I “needed” the drugs like a diabetic needs insulin.

After lots more research, and Peter having interesting and enlightening conversations with a client who was a pharmacist about my problem, I started my taper again in May 2008, this time much much slower and here I am four years later down to 1ml liquid Prozac and still tapering. It has needed a lot of self-discipline. I kept a blog of my progress; I’ve been amazed to meet a few others who have been tapering longer than me.

My blog gradually opened up a whole world of people to me, and many heartbreaking stories of careers ruined, relationships broken and lives destroyed through these drugs. Seems I got away relatively lightly. Every time I hear a story on the news about a high school shooting, the shootings in Cumbria, violent suicides I wonder what the “hidden” story is. There is a huge assumption that these drugs are benign and harmless, they are not; they can cause extreme agitation and internal torture. They are dished out like smarties and people left to deal with the results. Starting them is like playing a game of Russian Roulette, you might be a lucky one who can take them and come off them with ease, or you might not. My understanding was that they were meant to be taken for only a year or so after you feel “well” but many many people are stuck on them for years or forever, I know many people who’ve given up hope of coming off SSRI’s and I hear many people say “oh I’ll be on these the rest of my life”. There is NO support or advice in place through doctors or psychiatrists on how to taper safely off the drugs.  I know Bob has been looking for it as well and has yet to find it....if anyone does find any help in the UK, please let me know, although it’s a bit too late for me now as I’ve almost done it myself bar the last 0.90ml but I know a lot of other people who might like to know!

Thanks Bob for inviting me to write a guest post here, huge admiration for the work you do, keep on keeping on!


Sheila's blog can be read HERE




Please contact me if you would like a guest post considered for publication on my blog.