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Medicine tragedies repeated

5th December 2004

Anti-depressants repeat tranquillisers’ tragedy

Paul Flynn (Newport, West) said tomorrow’s ( 6th December)statements by NICE and the MHRA will confirm that the Seroxat scandal is one of gigantic proportions, which affects millions of people. Over-prescribing and mis-prescribing of this antidepressant is on a scale equalled only by the over-prescription of tranquillisers 40 years ago.

The pharmaceutical industry uses spin, marketing zeal and the propaganda to maximize profits. They have subverted charities and patients’ group to create a demand for happy bills that doctors cannot resist. GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Seroxat, has been exposed as valuing profits above the health of its customers. Where there should have been scientific objectivity there has been voodoo medicine; patients who have sought care have had their trust abused. Seroxat has turned mild stress in to suicidal despair. In many cases a passing anxiety has become a lifelong addiction, leading to self-harm, suicide and even murder Those who have long questioned the safety and efficacy of Seroxat were ridiculed and undermined by the pharmaceutical industry.

They have propagated the myth that life is a state of perpetual euphoria. All moments of discomfort, pain, boredom, grief or anxiety should be treated as illnesses requiring drugs. GSK has said antidepressants should be taken by half the female population of the United Kingdom and a third of the male population; it wants to see 25 million people on antidepressant drugs.

The charity MIND has courageously exposed the tragedies of over-prescribing. They take no money from pharmas. The Depression Alliance has called for a further 9 million people to be treated for depression. More than 80% of DA's funding comes from pharmas. Not only did they not support MIND's campaign, they tried to undermine it by attacking Panorama's programmes that exposed the perils of Seroxat.

Earlier this year, this practice was exposed when an internal document from GlaxoSmithKline, revealed that data demonstrating the ineffectiveness of Seroxat in treating depression in children was not passed to regulators because it would undermine the profile of the drug. The study, an analysis of published and unpublished data of trials of SSRIs in treating children with depression, reveals a staggering manipulation of data. Unpublished trials were found to contain data which show the drugs to be either ineffective or even dangerous. Urgent reform to force the publication of all trials is needed. The full report ‘Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in childhood depression: systematic review of published versus unpublished data’ by Craig J Whittington, Tim Kendall, Peter Fonagy, David Cottrell, Andrew Cotgrove, Ellen Boddington can be found at www.thelancet.com.

Early day Motions in the name of PF:-

MEDICINES OUT OF CONTROL 17.03.04 Flynn/Paul That this House hails the publication of the book 'Medicines Out of Control' as a remarkable account of history repeating itself over the last 150 years in the promotion of anti-depression drugs; congratulates Mr Charles Medawar and Anita Hardon for revealing mountainous evidence of incompetence and inaction by regulatory authorities and profit-driven pharmaceutical giants in advocating the use of cocaine, bromides, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and anti-depressants as safe drugs until use by millions of patients have proved them to be addictive, dangerous and of little or no utility; and regrets that more than six million people in Britain and 10 million children in the USA are currently using anti-depressants in spite of mounting evidence that they have been vastly over-prescribed for the mild depression that is an inevitable part of the human experience. That this House expresses concern at the tragic deaths associated with the anti-depressant drug Seroxat and the news that GlaxoSmithKline suppressed news of two 1998 studies that demonstrated that the drug was no more effective than placebos; notes with alarm the Department of Health's view that Seroxat can make the symptoms of depression more severe and the decision of a court that Seroxat was responsible for a change in the behaviour of a man who took his own life and that of his family; and calls for a full investigation of the conduct of GlaxoSmithKline who appear to have put their private greed before public safety.

That this House congratulates New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on his decision to sue the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline for alleged repeated and persistent fraud by suppressing the results of studies that showed the anti-depressant Seroxat is no more effective, or less effective, than a placebo in treating depression in young people and that the incidence of suicidal tendencies doubled among users in three of the trials; notes in one trial 6.5 per cent. of the sample taking Seroxat developed suicidal tendencies compared to 1.1 per cent. in the placebo group; is shocked to learn that the results were suppressed because GlaxoSmithKline decided that admitting that the drug did not work in children would be commercially unacceptable... as this would undermine the profile of Seroxat; and calls for early action here to conclude the delayed Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency investigation into Seroxat. Line 4, after 'future', insert 'Further notes that Depression Alliance is funded by Pharmaceutical Companies many of which manufacture the controversial Selective Seratonin Uptake Inhibitors; regrets the silence of the Depression Alliance in the recent exposure of the addictivity, fatal adverse effects and lack of utility of SSRIs; commends MIND for refusing all support from drug companies and congratulates them for leading the campaign against the dangers of Seroxat and their clear policy of differentiating between severe depression and other forms of depression that are an inevitable part of human experience.