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Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Paxil. More Big Pharma fraud?

This blog is based on a Health Sciences Institute newsletter, dated 30th October 2012.
Sign up for the HSI Newsletter here. It is well worth it.

Paxil (also known by the trade names Aropax, Pexeva, Seroxat and Sereupin) is a powerful antipsychotic drug that is approved to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) in adults.

Some of the known side effects of Paxil are flatulence, vomiting, gingivitis, dizziness, insomnia, nervousness, confusion, sleep abnormalities, anxiety, depersonalization, depression, lack of emotion, hallucinations, hostility, hysteria, manic-depressive reaction, psychotic depression, and psychosis. Mania has been reported in up to 2 per cent of bipolar patients.

How do these people live with themselves?

If you look at that long list of disturbing side effects, and DIEs, then the mind boggles as to why anyone would even consider giving this drug to children. Then again, I suppose when we're talking about Big Pharma, anything goes, especially when money is involved. As you and I both know, as soon as a drug has the potential to rake in millions, patient safety is the last thing on Big Pharma's mind.

Big profits were no doubt the motivation behind GlaxoSmithKline's (GSK) blatant bribery of doctors to prescribe Paxil to children. In fact, the drug giant went so far as to fly psychiatrists and their partners to five-star hotels on all-expenses-paid trips, where speakers (who were paid up to $2,500 to attend) gave presentations on the drug.

Doctors who attended these 'scientific meetings' were given $750, free board and lodging and access to activities including snorkelling, golf, deep-sea fishing, rafting, glass-bottomed boat rides, hot-air balloon rides and, on one trip, a tour of the Bacardi rum distillery... and those who agreed to write extra prescriptions enjoyed further kickbacks including trips to resorts in Bermuda, Jamaica and California.

That's despicable! But wait, there's more...

GSK even went so far as to publish an article in a medical journal that alluded to Paxil's safety for children, despite the journal asking several times for the misleading wording to be changed. Even though GSK knew that three trials had failed to prove the drugs' effectiveness in children, they still went ahead and published a report entitled "Positioning Paxil in the adolescent depression market – getting a head start"... Copies of the misleading article were given to sales representatives to pass on to doctors, in the hope that it would secure more business.

The more the merrier

An investigation found that GSK also paid $275,000 to Dr. Drew Pinsky, who hosted a popular radio show in the US, to promote another of their 'adults only' antidepressants, Wellbutrin, on his programme. GSK also claimed it could treat weight gain, sexual dysfunction, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bulimia... and those are exactly the unapproved uses Dr. Pinsky promoted on his radio show.

As if that wasn't enough, GSK launched their bestselling asthma drug, Advair, to sales representatives in Las Vegas using images of slot machines, emphasising the bonuses they could make through sales. At the event, the then chief executive, Jean-Pierre Garnier, said: "What is the number one reason why you should love to be a GSK sales rep? Advair's bonus plan. Yeah!"

GSK pushed the drug as the ultimate answer for tackling asthma, saying it should be the drug of choice for treating all cases. However, it had been approved only for treating severe cases, as other drugs were more suitable for mild asthma. GSK published material calling mild asthma a "myth" in an attempt to boost sales.

What's even more shameful is the fact that after GSK admitted corporate misconduct over all three drugs, they walked away with nothing but a slap on the wrist in the form of a $3bn fine... which is nothing compared to the profits GSK made from Paxil ($11.6bn), and Wellbutrin ($5.9bn) in 2000-2001 — the years covered by the settlement.

I am truly at a loss for words... 

Some additional comments on Paxil and the behaviour of drug companies

The Big Pharma drug companies are very big corporations, whose main priority are their shareholders, and the making of profit. It would appear that the making of profit (and not only from this blog, but many others) is very much more important than patient safety, and that our health is very much a secondary consideration for these companies.

Okay. I can understand that (and understanding it means that I want nothing to do with their drugs and vaccines). But always more puzzling is the fact that the Government, the Department of Health, our National Health Service (NHS), and our doctors and GP's are quite willing to continue with their role - as distributors of Big Pharma drugs. Moreover, as distributors of Big Pharma drugs, they are quite willing that we are not made aware of the dangers of these drugs.

Even more alarming, in some ways, is that our Media is also not willing to tell us what is happening, and how our health is placed in danger by all Big Pharma drugs, not just Paxil / Seroxat. Okay, most of the mass media is owned and managed by the same vested financial interests as Big Pharma. Remember, James Murdoch not only ran News International, he was also on the board of GSK!

But even this does not explain the position of BBC News! They are funded by the licence fee we all pay - and still they do not see fit to warn us about the disease-inducing effects (DIEs) of Big Pharma drugs.

Clearly, the Government, the NHS, our doctors, the Media (even the BBC) are quite willing to hide this information from people.

I wonder? How many young children will be put on Paxil today? And how many of them, or indeed their parents, will recognise or understand the dangers that are involved in doing so?

There is serious legal culpability here. Consuming something when we know it is dangerous is one thing. But when people, who should be telling us about the dangers, are clearly refusing to do so. Surely that is a crime!