Sunday, June 15, 2008

SocialAudit - Charles Medawar

You all must know about Charles Medawar's work. It was on his site where I found support to taper Effexor. As I already said I used to write online and now I don't have access to the messages I wrote because the discussion board is unavailable.
I've just found one comment.
It was written on August 5, 2005 and it's a response for a journalist who asked why people were put on SSRIs. The journalist was from BBC and he was collecting data for the second Panorama on Paxil/Seroxat.
This is the only answer I've saved:

"The report "The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry" is something that should be recognized by all citizens in
UK as something of great value in promoting health and stopping the abuse of drugs for any problem. Drugs that are sometimes very harmful like the SSRIs and this report has important views on this problem.
At page 6 it's reported:
Inappropriate prescription of medicines by GPs is of particular concern. Some have prescribed SSRIs, for instance, on a grand scale.

But I defy you to go to a psychiatrist reporting anxiety or some problem and not to be put on any drug whether a benzodiazepine or a SSRI. It’s a problem that although, “About 650 million prescriptions are written each year by GPs alone.” is beyond specialization."
We, patients, should put it aside and focus on the side effects, withdrawal symptoms, permanent neurological problems.

Been a specialist does not mean that he or she is able to understand the problem. Psychiatrists, that were supposed to know everything that is at stake when they prescribe SSRIs, still do not know either how to cope with side effects or help patients to withdraw the drug. They say we have to stand side effects.
They do not rely on our reports, don't know how to recognize withdrawal symptoms, do not know that you can have withdrawal symptom after months out off the SSRI and prescribe these drugs that causes serious harm as if it was a painkiller.
Here is an issue very important (p. 7):
"The Government should, as a matter of urgency, fund research into the costs of drug-induced illness."
Sometimes I get a little afraid that the industry starts creating highly amount of drugs to treat the problems they created the iatrogenic diseases. Will we have to pay more expensive drugs?

This is terrifying:
“The drugs are produced by a very large and successful industry. It employs 83,000 people directly and many more indirectly, and makes a huge contribution to the balance of trade each year. Overall, the industry represents the country ’s third most profitable economic activity, after tourism and finance. It is of great importance to the UK economy.” p.9
And: p. 10
“7.The timing of this Inquiry coincided with an investigation by the medicines regulator into the safety of the newer ‘SSRI ’ antidepressant drugs, and we refer to these drugs to illustrate some concerns. Depression can be a severely disabling and life-threatening condition, when urgent treatment is needed, but only about 5% of all prescriptions are written for ‘severe ’ depression, and about two-thirds are for forms of depression classified as ‘mild depression"– i.e. mainly for people who are unhappy and distressed by difficult situations and circumstances. Although it is often suggested that antidepressant drugs will help these people, there is no good evidence that they will. Most people prescribed SSRIs in such circumstances can expect modest benefits, but are exposed to substantial risks of harm.”
I will keep on reading and believe that any person who is really concerned about this problem, especially physicians and patients, should read this report.
That’s why I say that everything is out in the open. The important is to have the courage to explain the truth.
If a report like this cannot make a difference, and surely will not, for as mentioned above “Overall, the industry represents the country’s third most profitable economic activity”.

Nobody, nothing can stop it.
But let’s wait that everything that is proposed in this important document such as in the part of what are the actions Government can take p.95:

325.Government has a number of areas of responsibility for medicines. It must act as sponsor for UK-based drug companies to encourage a thriving and competitive industry, it must maintain oversight of the regulatory system and ensure that mechanisms and incentives are in place so that the industry acts in a way that is consonant with the Government ’s public health aims.
“327.Government has been slow to see the importance of these areas, perhaps because the pharmaceutical industry funds such a great proportion of other medical research. The industry cannot be expected to fully fund areas of research that are not directly in its interest, however, and so it falls to Government to address areas of need such as non-drug treatments, combination studies and iatrogenic illness.” p. (95)
347. Although the case of Seroxat has been described in greater detail elsewhere in this report,it is worth noting here that,in additional information provided to the Committee on the basis of the EWG ’s report on SSRIs,it has been shown that suicidal thoughts and hostility are twice as common in patients receiving Seroxat in the month following drug withdrawal as in those receiving placebo. Data contained in the licence application itself cited studies in which withdrawal symptoms were common. Yet for years the MHRA maintained that withdrawal symptoms were rare, affecting of the order of 0.1 –0.2% of patients. The Agency now acknowledges that 20 –30%of patients might experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping SSRIs.
351. "The belief that every problem may be solved with medication seems particularly relevant in the context of antidepressants. While we readily accept that antidepressants can be effective medicines and have been successfully used by many patients, it is also clear that SSRIs, in particular, have been over-prescribed to individuals, often with mild forms of depression, who may be distressed by difficult life circumstances. Unhappiness is part of the spectrum of human experience, not a medical condition."
You all in UK have this powerful weapon on your hands.
Everyone who is concerned with the SSRIs problems should make an effort to remember your politicians and regulators to make it all work as soon as possible.
I would like to stress that Mr. Charles Medawar has a great deal of influence on this for as you can see at page 12:
14 .We are also very grateful for the expert guidance we received from our specialist advisers. They were: Professor John Abraham, Department of Sociology, University of Sussex; Professor Joe Collier of St George’s Medical School; Professor Gerard Hastings, University of Stirling; Charles Medawar, Executive Director of Social Audit Ltd; and Dr Harriet Scorer, an independent consultant to the pharmaceutical industry.
I do not know him, I live In Rio de Janeiro, knew all about him here in this site and became aware about this report here.
I admire all the effort he is doing in creating Socialaudit, and above all, he was the one who gave us a place to share all these hideous problems we are facing and to exchange our experiences giving advices to each other in order to heal ourselves an effort physicians has failed and did not even pay any attention to our words. In doing that it is impossible to say that nothing is happening.
All the testimonies here are off inestimable value to assure that SSRIs are not what the Pharmaceutical Industry claim they are.
Because of all this testimonies it became impossible to keep on denying that these drugs are not harmful.
Now it is about time to help him making pressure in order the solutions that are proposed can get out of the paper.

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