Zantac Lawsuit

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Guest Post: I’m Depressed about Antidepressants

The following is a guest post from James Moore, creator of the popular Facebook forum, "Let's Talk Withdrawal" and host of Mad In America's successful podcast series.

James, like many, has been perplexed by recent news. James, like many, has many questions and thoughts.

Here are some of those thoughts.

I’m Depressed about Antidepressants

In the early hours of the morning of Thursday 22nd February, I did what we should never do and idly checked my phone. My heart sank as I read the headlines. The media were falling over themselves to report the results of a study published in the Lancet comparing the efficacy and tolerability of 21 antidepressant drugs. On that day, the word ‘antidepressants’ had its highest ever number of Google web searches in the UK.

The hashtag #MedsWorkedForMe started trending, followed a little while later by #MedsDidntWorkForMe as claims of stigma were hurled back and forth. It descended from a discussion of the results of a scientific paper that, at best, had very modest conclusions, to a polemic rant. Unfortunately, much of what was reported was #FakeScience.

There has been a lack of critical analysis of the headlines and of the study itself. I implore you to read the study, it is not a long piece, if nothing else, read the discussion where you will see for yourself that the authors write: "It should also be noted that some of the adverse effects of antidepressants occur over a prolonged period, meaning that positive results need to be taken with great caution, because the trials in this network meta-analysis were of short duration."

The headlines have increased stigma for all, whether you take and benefit from a drug or whether, as in my case, you have been harmed by them. Divisions have been deepened and we have encouraged so many people to accept the drugs without really considering if they are right for them.

I am not anti-psychotropic drugs, what I am against is the lack of informed consent and the perpetuation of the chemical imbalance as a justification for medicating so many. I don’t want to try and convince you, I just beg you to read the science. If there are any practicing psychiatrists, doctors, therapists or counselors out there who are still promoting this mistruth, for the good of your patients please contact the Royal College of Psychiatrists, who will themselves confirm they do not support the idea of a chemical imbalance. (Fig 1) Better still, if the Royal College could issue a position statement and publicise it as widely as the Lancet study, that would help us all.

Fig 1

The truth is, we just don't know if there is a purely biological explanation for depression and why some cope and some don’t, but we seem afraid to admit that to each other.

Admitting that the chemical imbalance is a myth does not denigrate the beneficial effects of chemical substances, alcohol temporarily lifts many moods on a Saturday night, but not because people are suffering from alcohol deficiency syndrome.

I do not and would not criticise anyone who needed some distance from traumatic or stressful experiences, and if tablets work for that, bravo. However, we are treating anxiety and depression as chronic illnesses, to be viewed as diabetes is. If broke my leg, I would want a cast while my fractured bones healed, but once healed, if I continued to rely on my cast and crutch for the rest of my life, I would be unable to function without them.

On Thursday, February 22nd, I felt depressed but it was not because my chemicals were imbalanced, it is because we so readily accepted spin as truth. For those advising that I should be taking an antidepressant to deal with this period of low mood, I am and it hasn’t helped one bit. If you feel yours is helping, I am genuinely happy for you.

James Moore

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

RCP Remove Damning Antidepressant Document From Website

"Figures Don't Lie, but Liars Figure" ~ Mark Twain

As soon as Wendy Burn and David Baldwin pass their remedial maths exam, they have some serious explaining to do.

In a recent letters to the editor publication in the British media (pic below), Burns, president of the Royal College of Psychiatry (RCP) and Baldwin, RCP psychopharmacology chair, claimed: "We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment." Yet, their own survey shows at least 63% of respondents reported difficulties withdrawing from the SSRI drugs Wendy and David frequently defend.

Click on image to enlarge

I'm unsure what type of maths training one needs to become a doctor, but it appears Burns and Baldwin skipped the maths requirement as both believe 63% is not a "majority."

Their claim prompted many questions from people on Twitter who 1) know how to count and 2) have struggled to withdraw from drugs marketed as "antidepressants."

Burn went wild on Twitter with her frequent tweets claiming antidepressants work and people using them shouldn't be 'shamed'. (Fig 1) Though it makes for a well-orchestrated PR tactic to try and muster the troops by claiming unknown others are trying to attack and "shame" them for drug consumption, I've yet to see anyone publicly shaming others for following doctors' orders.

Fig 1

Burn went on to claim "most people can stop them without problems." She backed up her claim by adding a link to a 2003 paper entitled, "Relapse prevention with antidepressant drug treatment in depressive disorders: a systematic review."

Enter James Moore, creator of the popular Facebook forum, "Let's Talk Withdrawal" and host of Mad In America's successful podcast series. Moore pointed out that Burn's claim did not jive with RCP's own "Coming Off Antidepressants" leaflet featured on RCP's website. Despite being president of RCP, Burn is apparently clueless regarding her organization's public information. (Fig 2)

Fig 2

After regurgitating a 2003 study in desperate attempt to back her claims, Burn later backtracked stating...

Burn then quickly vanished from the conversation.

Less than 24 hour hours later, RCP had removed its "Coming Off Antidepressants" leaflet from its own website despite RCP's claim "We hope that you find the information given in this leaflet useful"

Thanks to Moore's quick thinking, he had already downloaded RCPs damning leaflet that contradicts the claims made by RCP's president and psychopharmacology committee chair.

Last week we frequently heard Burns and other RCP spokespersons, such as Carmine Pariante, shouting from the rooftops "Extra, extra, read all about it: 'groundbreaking' study shows antidepressants work better than placebo." Pariante further claimed that the findings 'put to bed' the controversy surrounding antidepressants. For most, the controversy has never been whether or not they figured better than placebo in clinical trials. The controversy is whether or not they can cause severe withdrawal problems, psychosis, and both suicidal thinking and completed suicide.

Back to RCP's own antidepressant withdrawal survey and today's abrupt removal of their website leaflet.

The survey, carried out by RCP in 2014 and last reviewed in 2017, showed a staggering 63% of respondents experienced withdrawal when stopping drugs marketed as "antidepressants."

Of their findings, RCP wrote:
"People in our survey reported that the symptoms generally lasted for up to 6 weeks. A small percentage of symptoms lasted longer than this. A quarter of our group reported anxiety lasting more than 12 weeks."
In all, 866 people participated in the survey, a quarter of which equates to 216. Contrast this figure to the article penned by RCP's president and psychopharmacology committee chair who state, "We know that in the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment."

Some questions we need to ask RCP include:

 1. Why does a study published by the RCP in 2014 and reviewed in 2017 bear no significance when RCPs President and psychopharmacology chair address the media?

 2. Do Wendy Burn and David Baldwin suffer from amnesia or do they merely fail to understand basic mathematics? i.e.; 63% is more than half.

 3. Why did RCP recently remove this survey and accompanying leaflet from its website days after announcing the "controversy surrounding antidepressants has now been put to bed" and 24 hours after James Moore showed Burn that her claims did not tally with her own organization's findings?

4. Most importantly, RCP's leaflet regarding SSRI withdrawal stated: "We hope that you find the information given in this leaflet useful." Given that only yesterday RCP believed its info for those suffering from SSRI withdrawal was important, why did RCP remove its useful info today? Is there a new study published in the last 24 hours that shows zero percent of the population suffers from SSRI withdrawal? I don't think so.

Doctors take a Hippocratic Oath to First Do No Harm. Although 63% of people who suffer from SSRI withdrawal is clearly a majority, the point is that even if this figure were only 1%, does RCP not feel an ethical obligation to help all its members help all their patients? The Hippocratic Oath is not based on majority percentages; rather, it is based on individual doctor/patient relationships.

Here's the 4-page leaflet...

For a bit of fun, I've put together five songs I feel Messrs Baldwin and Burn may like to listen to.

Don't Try To Hide It - J. Geils Band

Thick As A Brick - Jethro Tull

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow - The Ramones

Add It Up - The Kinks

Clearly Quite Absurd - Deep Purple

Bob Fiddaman
Special thanks to James Moore


Back stories

Friday, February 23, 2018

Media Frenzy - Antidepressants Are Safe!

Lead author, Andrea Cipriani

Like hungry sharks, today the "mainstream" media feasted on lies and half-truths as it dutifully regurgitated a new study analysis by Andrea Cipriani et al. The so-called "study," heavily promoted by "mental health" organizations, claims to determine drugs marketed as "antidepressants" are safe and effective.

Twitter pill-pushers, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other "mental health" campaigners backslapped each other throughout the day. I even received a few emails from family and friends inquiring if this is the definitive study.

No, it is not. And I don't state this because of the large boxes of substantial evidence I've compiled as a drug safety blogger for 12 years. Instead, the timing of this self-proclaimed "study" and the critical info it intentionally omits is basically the smoking gun that points to fraud.

The study, which was merely a "research" team reviewing 522 trials of "antidepressants," claims to show "antidepressants" work better than placebo. What the Twitter pill-pushers failed to declare is that out of the 522 trials examined by "researchers," 78% of the studies were funded by drug companies. The 522 trials lasted only eight weeks. This pooled "study" doesn't determine that long-term use of "antidepressants" is safe or effective. But this question was intentionally left out as drug company studies--and researchers who profit from drug companies--typically never ask questions to which they already know the answers. Also, nowhere in the study does it discuss the dangers of SSRIs nor note that these drugs were never intended for long-term use.

Taking to Twitter, the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) gleefully seemed to wet its pants as it tweeted false claims. One taunting RCP tweet to BBC investigative journalist, Shelley Jofre, read...

The RCP looks foolish for such immature tweets, and I'd state this even if this "study" were accurate.

Nevertheless, Jofre previously investigated "antidepressants" and showed that many consumers suffered severe withdrawal and suicidality caused by ADRs. She has also highlighted that these drugs can and do cause violence and deadly harm to self and others.

RCP's Professor Pariante further claimed, "This meta-analysis finally puts to bed the controversy on antidepressants." I doubt Pariante's pie-in-the-sky wishes will come true, but his apparent delusions include the belief that if he makes loud and frequent proclamations, the public will eventually accept them as truth.

I'm unsure if Pariante's proclamation refers to his delusion that "antidepressants" work better than sugar pills taken for 8 weeks. Or is Pariante claiming "antidepressants" don't cause suicidal thoughts, actions and suicide itself? Is Pariante stating akathisia, a condition that can and does lead to suicide, is of no concern?  Does he believe horrendous withdrawal effects people suffer when trying to come off them are merely consumers' delusions? Or perhaps Pariante may have been talking about the birth defects and infant deaths SSRIs cause?

Pariante pranced around on various TV and radio shows throughout the day making his outlandish claims based on a study that used data funded by drug companies. To diminish this fact, Pariante, like many other pill pushers, claimed drug-funded studies are unbias. Today on Science Media Centre's website, he proclaimed "...the paper analyses unpublished data held by pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the funding of studies by these companies does not influence the result, thus confirming that the clinical usefulness of these drugs is not affected by pharma-sponsored spin."

Really? Such a claim is outlandish whether one is talking about dangerous drugs or a study funded by CocaCola claiming Coke tastes better than Pepsi.

Dr. David Healy, a professor of psychiatry at Bangor University, had this to say:
Bizarrely, Helen Stokes-Lampard, who is Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, tweeted about the new analysis:
Begs the question why Cipriani et al decided to pull data from studies that lasted just 8 weeks if these types of drugs are supposed to be taken for 'at least six months.'

For Americans reading this, a general practitioner is your average doctor. It's general practitioners who prescribe more SSRIs than psychiatrists. Now, it seems, they have something to hang their hats on to.

Pattern of Deceit

So, anyway, back to my theory about the timing of today's "news."

I've been blogging about drug safety for more than a decade and have seen patterns emerge when public opinion begins to sway regarding "antidepressants" safety and effectiveness. In the past year, several authors have released books regarding the dangers of antidepressants. While this isn't new news as many authors have exposed dangerous drugs and pharma/psychiatric industry fraud, today social media more quickly disseminates info directly to the public when promoting new books. One example is that Johann Hari, who recently gained media attention when extracts from his new book, 'Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions', were published in The Observer. Hari was also given a platform on various radio and TV shows. Hari, was shut down by the RCP and the various lickspittles hired by the Science Media Centre. (More on them later)

It seems large bureaucratic "mental health" organizations & their spin doctors aren't agile enough to keep up their lame rebuttals; hence, today they joined the media circus to make a loud splash with their new carefully planned spin.

The public has also recently seen increased attention regarding the link between prescription drugs and violence as more info unfolds regarding two high-profile cases of mass shootings. A recent autopsy report on Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock noted he had "anti-anxiety" drugs in his system at the time of death. (1) Meanwhile, Henderson Behavioral Health, an independent organization, has released information noting that Florida shooter, Nicolas Cruz, was "receiving mental health treatment services and that he was taking medication." (2)

After both of these mass shootings, the public began asking whether or not the shooters were taking prescription drugs. They asked because it is increasingly becoming more difficult for prescribers to deny the link between prescription drugs and violence given that the majority of these massacres have been carried out by someone under the influence of prescription drugs.

This threatens the financial livelihood of members of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other "mental health" organizations. When more people question the safety of "antidepressants" psychiatrists whose jobs increasingly rely on lucrative prescribing, will lose their livelihood or be forced to provide meaningful therapy.

The timing of this new "study" was carefully crafted by those who financially benefit from promoting "antidepressant" consumption. This includes the pharmaceutical companies who paid for a large portion of the studies pooled by Cipriani. The lead author was, today, busily answering prepared tweets today from industry admirers who are thrilled to see Cipriani prancing around. Pay no mind to the fact that Cipriani is really an emperor with no clothes.

Science Media Centre: Heavy on the Media, Soft on Science

So, how does a canned "study"on such an old subject attract heavy media attention? The Science Media Centre (SMC) to the rescue. SMC is a self-proclaimed think tank of spin doctors disguised as scientists. You can read more about them here. When I first started blogging, it was primarily the job of pharmaceutical reps and opinion leaders to promote drug use. Now, it seems, SMC and social media PR staff are doing the job for them. Despite large PR budgets and staff, I anticipate more people will question the safety of these drugs as more school children are violently killed by former classmates. RCP knows this, too.

But back to today's sharks and their bloody feeding frenzy: Do you know that Bull sharks eat other sharks including juvenile members of their own species? Present-day psychiatry knows it's a dying field and with the promotion of today's new analysis by all those at the RCP, it would suggest that they will always be the silent bystanders as many people struggle at the hands of these drugs.

Finally, I want to leave the last word to the study authors. One has to bear in mind here, that suicide figures are rising as prescriptions for "antidepressants" increase. Here's the death warrant they promoted today in the British media:

"More people should be offered medication when suffering from mental health problems."

Bob Fiddaman

(1) Las Vegas shooter had anti-anxiety medicine in system, autopsy says
(2) Parkland Shooting Suspect Was Receiving Treatment, Medication When Probe Closed

Friday, February 09, 2018

Masterfully Harming Kids for Profit

eu·phe·mism (noun)
1. the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.

"Part of my job is to create ‘masterful’ euphemisms to protect Medical and Marketing." -- Guess Who?

If you think the above quote is from a sleazy character in the hit TV series Mad Men, you'd be partly right. It is indeed uttered by a sleazy character, but in this case, it's a real person, a mad woman named Amy Rubin. When you learn what Rubin did, you'll understand why this woman can't accurately be called a lady.

As a Regulatory Affairs Manager for Forest Pharmaceuticals, Rubin proudly used her marketing skills to help pull the wool over the FDA's eyes regarding Forest's dangerous, ineffective drug, Celexa, which carries the generic name of citalopram. Rubin made her self-aggrandizing declaration in a memo sent to Dr. Charles Flicker, Senior Medical Director of Forest Laboratories as the two concocted ways to stretch the truth so that more doctors would prescribe Celexa for children and adolescents.

Spin Doctors At Work

Forest Pharmaceuticals conducted the MD-18 study involving Celexa, an SSRI now owned by Allergen. MD-18 was supposed to be a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of pediatrics. According to unsealed documents and testimony, MD-18 was only able to achieve a positive result by including nine patients in the study that were, as Forest’s medical director stated, “automatically unblinded” due to a supposed dispensing error. (Blinded means that a study's investigators are not supposed to know who consumed the product and who consumed the placebo.) The MD-18 investigators did know who was consuming Celexa and who was consuming placebo. And Forest Pharmaceutical execs knew this, too. The MD-18 study was flawed and biased.

The company then whitewashed the data in a draft letter to the FDA stating that incorrectly dispensed pills could have “potentially unblinded the study,” - After the draft was passed around Forest Labs they decided to rephrase the term and acknowledged that the wrongly dispensed pills could have the  “potential to cause bias.” By omitting the word 'unblinded' Forest was deliberately trying to hoodwink the FDA and create the false impression of positive results.

Forest then actively promoted the MD-18 study to encourage doctors to prescribe Celexa for children. The company later used the flawed MD-18 study to gain FDA approval for its other SSRI, Lexapro (escitalopram) and promoted it for adolescents. The result: Forest made money peddling snake oil to doctors knowing that unsuspecting parents would likely later make funeral plans for their children.

Last month Los Angles law firm, Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, wrote a letter to Greg Shapiro, Chief of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit, regarding a series of agreements that Forest made in 2010 with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. (USAO). Baum Hedlund points out that the 2010 settlement agreement missed some crucial evidence.

Baum Hedlund states:

"Over the past several years, our litigation has revealed that the scope and extent of Forest’s fraud was not honestly disclosed to the USAO (or, to the Food and Drug Administration) and that Forest misrepresented material facts underlying the USAO’s prosecution.  Documents and testimony obtained in our litigation have been unsealed, over Forest’s objection, and we have prepared a detailed memorandum outlining Forest’s misconduct and fraud with the hope the USAO will consider reopening its investigation."

The unsealed correspondence between Rubin and Flicker shows how pharmaceutical companies intentionally and routinely put the public--including children and teens--at great risk of harm and death from their products.

Wreckless Endangerment of Children

I tried to find a photo of Amy Rubin to show you what an evil spin doctor looks like, but it seems Rubin is camera shy. For her role in creating a medical holocaust that harms and/or kills thousands of innocent children, I've chosen a makhsheyfe or Baba Yaga photo to represent Rubin. If today Rubin is a mother, I imagine the reckless endangerment she helped unleash in neighborhoods across the globe isn't something she'd want to do to her children or grandchildren. But harming children is merely business as usual for Amy Rubin and her pharma colleagues.

So, as Forest's Rubin once wrote that it was part of her job to "create ‘masterful’ euphemisms to protect Medical and Marketing", it's part of my job to protect children and adolescents.

I hope Amy Joyce Rubin, age 64, has no contact with the innocent children in her Paterson, New Jersey neighborhood.

There are many appropriate adjectives we could use to describe Rubin, most of which are four-letter words. I'll leave it to you to fill in the blanks.

Bob Fiddaman

Baum Hedlund's letter to the Chief of the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit can be read here.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

BBC Newsround: Antidepressants

BBC flagship programme, 'Newsround', a children's news show, are looking to hear from families in the UK whose children (17 or under) have had good or bad experiences on antidepressants.

I'm promoting this as I feel education regarding these drugs really should start at a grassroots level, namely, our children.

Here's what lead researcher Oliver Newlan wrote me.

BBC Newsround are interested in speaking to any families of children currently aged 17 or under who have had good or bad experiences of being prescribed antidepressants.
If there are any experiences you feel you would like to share please could you email by Thursday 8th February 5pm.
We will deal with your experiences sensitively and will not make anything public without your explicit consent.

Bob Fiddaman 

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