Monday, May 04, 2015

An Open Request For Dr Max Pemberton (TV Doctor)

Dear Max,

I'd refer to you by your real name given that 'Max Pemberton', as I understand, is a pen name you use. However, I feel using your first pen name, 'Max', is suitable for the purpose of this request.

I'm am writing in response to your editorial in the Daily Mail (The Real scandal about happy pills) in which you quite openly disagree with the opinions of  psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, scientist and author, Dr David Healy. (Real name)

My response is simple and one that will cut out the need for a pissing match on social networks.

I would like to sit down with you and debate some of the statements you made in your editorial, specifically, where you state...

"You never hear anyone opining that chemotherapy is over-prescribed, do you?"

I would also like to discuss your stance on whether or not depression is caused by a lack of the brain chemical serotonin, if not, then what is depression caused by?

You also claim that, "As an academic, Professor Healy doesn't have to pick up the pieces. As a psychiatrist working in the NHS, I do."

Which is very interesting because as a writer I, myself, often find myself helping families harmed by antidepressants.

So, here's the request.

I would love to debate the above issues (and more with you) - I would also like to bring with me supporting evidence, although this may prove to be difficult financially as those that I wish to attend live in different parts of the world, namely,..

Neil and Rhonda Carlin (Canada) - Their daughter, Sara, was just 18 when she tied a knot in an electric wire, placed it around her neck then hanged herself. Sara, at the time was on the antidepressant Seroxat, known as Paxil in the US and Canada. A total of 16 recommendations were made at the end of her inquest. You can read about some of those recommendations here. Here's a photo of Sara.

Leonie Fennell (Ireland) - Her son, Shane, was just 22 when he was prescribed the antidepressant Cipramil, known as Celexa in the US. 17 days later Shane took his life and the life of another. Shane didn't hang himself, he plunged a knife into his chest 19 times. His mom told the inquest she believed his actions were the result of his taking Cipramil. The inquest returned an open verdict. Leonie has her own website here. Here's a photo of Shane.

Stephany Gatchell (Ireland) - Her daughter, Sharise, was just 18 years of age when she took her own life. Sharise chose death by hanging. An empty packet of Seroxat was found beneath her lifeless body. Two weeks after she killed herself the MHRA made an announcement that SSRI'S should no longer be prescribed to under 18's. Too little too late for the parents of Sharise. You can read a speech that her mom gave at the  Brighton convention regarding Seroxat here. Here's a photo of Sharise.

Stephanie Lynch (Ireland) - Her son, Jake, was just 14 when he put a rifle inside his mouth, pulled the trigger and killed himself. He'd been prescribed Prozac because his was worrying about school exams. His mother wrote a guest post. If you can stomach it, click here. Here's a photo of Jake.

Stuart Jones - (Wales) His daughter, Sheryl, was 28 when she was prescribed Cipramil because, according to her father, she was having a 'down day'. Sheryl took an overdose of the antidepressant just three days later. Her life support machine was switched off four days after she was admitted to the intensive care unit. The inquest returned an open verdict. You can read her father's eulogy here. Here's a photo of Sheryl.

Kim Witczak (USA) - On August 6, 2003 Kim's husband, Woody, died of a Zoloft-induced suicide at age 37.  In Kim's own words, "He was not depressed, nor did he have any history of mental illness or depression. He died after taking the drug a total of 5 weeks with the dosage being doubled shortely before his death. He was given the antidepressant from his general physician for “insomnia.” - You can read more about Woody here. Here's a photo of Woody.

Mathy Milling Downing (USA) - Her daughter, Candace, was just 12. When Candace entered middle school, she began having problems on tests and frustration over certain homework assignments. She would block on answers she knew on tests, or write so illegibly that some answers were marked incorrect, even if she had them correct. Because of her parents’ concern, she saw her pediatrician, who recommended that she see a child psychiatrist. The psychiatrist wrote Candace a prescription for Zoloft. Some time later Candace hanged herself. - You can read more about Candace here. Here's a photo of Candace.

Celeste Steubing (USA) - Her son, Matthew, was 18 when he plunged more than 160 feet from the Silas Pearman Bridge before slamming into the Cooper River. Matthew was prescribed the antidepressant Lexapro after a visit to a psychologist. Both Celeste and her husband, Daniel, said Matthew had never been suicidal before going on the drug, which was prescribed by a doctor to correct a perceived chemical imbalance. -You can read more about Matthew here. Here's a photo of Matthew.

With the exception of both Stepanie's from Ireland and Stuart from Wales, I have met each and everyone of the parents, and wife, mentioned. I feel, Dr Pemberton, that you should too.

I'm unsure of your stance on antidepressant use during pregnancy - If you feel it's safe then I can introduce you to a number of parents who have lost children due to their mothers taking antidepressants during pregnancy - hey, the more the merrier, eh Dr. Pemberton?

You are going to need a rather large couch to accommodate us all. Hey, I can even tell you about my personal experience at the hands of Seroxat. I was prescribed it for work related problems. It took me a total of 19 months to taper down from 40mg per day to 22mg per day - in the end I was forced to go cold turkey. I had one suicide attempt and felt compelled to cause bodily harm to complete strangers. (Don't worry Dr Pemberton - I'm off it now so don't feel suicidal or homicidal) I've met with the MHRA a few times and no violence was aimed in their direction.

Are you up for it? I feel we should debate the points you make in your editorial. I do feel that you should look at all of the above in the eye and tell them that antidepressants are perfectly safe. Or will you just pass them off, like the MHRA do, as 'anecdotal stories'?

You can contact me on Twitter or by direct email if you so desire.

I look forward to your reply.


Bob Fiddaman.

Author of The evidence, however, is clear, the Seroxat scandal.

Optimism Bias

Optimism bias. Now there's a phrase.

I actually stumbled upon it earlier today when running a google search with the question, "People who ignore risks are called?"

So, what is Optimism bias and where does it fit in with this blog?

Well, here's the definition:

Optimism bias (also known as unrealistic or comparative optimism) is a cognitive bias that causes a person to believe that they are less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others. (Wikipedia)

The UK government also use this phrase in 'The Green Book'.The Green Book is guidance for central government produced by the Treasury on how publicly funded bodies should prepare and analyse proposed policies, programmes and projects to obtain the best public value and manage risks.

I wonder if the British drug regulator, the MHRA, refer to the 'Green Book' when making decisions about granting licences to drugs, in particular, SSRI's?

On our behalf (because remember, they are supposed to be working on our behalf) the MHRA grant licences to drugs based on the evidence supplied to them by the pharmaceutical industry. A licence indicates all the proper checks have been carried out and the benefits of a medicine are believed to outweigh the risks.

Now, let's look at the definition of Optimism bias once more, this time, a more in-depth look.

This from Psychlopedia, a psychology website.

Optimism bias, originally referred to as unrealistic optimism (Weinstein, 1980), is the tendency of individuals to underestimate the likelihood they will experience adverse events, such as skin cancer or car accidents. As a consequence of this bias, some individuals might disregard precautions that might curb these risks. They might not, for example, wear seatbelts.
Optimism bias, although a distortion that could provoke risky behavior, has also been conceptualized as a hallmark of wellbeing. In particular, according to Taylor and Brown (1988), optimism bias-together with illusions of control and unrealistic positive perceptions of the self-can foster positive thoughts and ultimately enhance self esteem and wellbeing.
Nevertheless, optimism biases might instead reflect defensive mechanisms, such as denial, which are inversely related to wellbeing (e.g., Colvin & Block, 1994; Myers & Brewin, 1996). Furthermore, optimism biases coincide with failures to engage in suitable precautionary acts. 

I don't know about you but I thought this line was particularly telling, even more so if you substitute the word 'humans' with 'medicines regulators'.

"Humans, however, exhibit a pervasive and surprising bias: when it comes to predicting what will happen to us tomorrow, next week, or fifty years from now, we overestimate the likelihood of positive events, and underestimate the likelihood of negative events."

So, on our behalf, yet on their own behest, the MHRA show an unrealistic optimism that underestimate the likelihood that WE will experience adverse events on the drugs that they grant licence to.

I've got that right, haven't I?

Tali Sharot of the Department of Cognitive, Perceptual and Brain Sciences, Division of Psychology and Language Sciences, University College London, pretty much hits the nail on the head with a published paper that, to me at least, could be describing the actions of the MHRA, FDA, in fact any global medicine regulator. Sharote writes...

The ability to anticipate is a hallmark of cognition. Inferences about what will occur in the future are critical to decision making, enabling us to prepare our actions so as to avoid harm and gain reward. Given the importance of these future projections, one might expect the brain to possess accurate, unbiased foresight. Humans, however, exhibit a pervasive and surprising bias: when it comes to predicting what will happen to us tomorrow, next week, or fifty years from now, we overestimate the likelihood of positive events, and underestimate the likelihood of negative events. For example, we underrate our chances of getting divorced, being in a car accident, or suffering from cancer. We also expect to live longer than objective measures would warrant, overestimate our success in the job market, and believe that our children will be especially talented. This phenomenon is known as the optimism bias, and it is one of the most consistent, prevalent, and robust biases documented in psychology and behavioral economics.

Ergo, I accuse the MHRA, FDA and all other global medicine regulators as having Optimism Bias.

Any authors of the DSM reading this? Then again, I think those same authors have optimism bias too.

Bob Fiddaman.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Prozac Took My Child (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post. It was sent to me by Stephanie Lynch, the mother of Jake McGill Lynch who, at the age of 14, took a .22 rifle, placed it in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Jake, at the time, was on a course of medication, the controversial selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRi), Prozac.

I have much to say regarding Stephanie's guest post. My thoughts follow her heartbreaking story.

Prozac Took My Child

On May 2 we should have celebrated our beautiful child's 17th birthday, instead we got to place flowers and balloons on his grave.

Jake McGill Lynch was 14 years old when he took a .22 rifle and placed it in his mouth and pulled the trigger, all the while his dad and I sat downstairs unaware there was a problem.

You see this was not unusual when you are members of a gun club, what was unusual, and is now unfixable, is that Jake took his own life that night. This young child did not suffer from any suicide ideation, nor did he suffer from depression, psychosis, heightened anxiety or any other label that psychiatrists like to place on normal children who are facing exams and going through hormone changes at the same time.

Jake (14) Photo taken two months prior to his death.

Jake had a diagnosis of aspergers syndrome, it was so mild that it went undetected until he was 12. We all have anxiety in life, but when you have aspergers you worry about things you shouldn't worry about. So we, as loving parents, wanted to make Jake's transition from a teenager to a young man as easy as possible so we took advice from a school counsellor to have Jake assessed, wow, did we ever get that wrong!

Jake attended our GP first, who saw no problems, he then went to a psychologist were he would visit once a month, sometimes it went 3-4 months without a visit, I thought he could tell her things he did not feel he could tell us without being embarrassed. She then, in her wisdom, decided to refer him to her colleague, a Psychiatrist, we did not know the difference between counselling and psychiatry back then.

Skip to his first meeting which his dad took him to. It lasted all of 10 maybe 15 minutes, they left with a prescription for a drug called Prozac. She said it would help him get through his exams.

Six days later Jake walked out of an exam halfway through and had his first meltdown that night, He cried for 3 hours..we thought it was the stress of the exams. (This was his 6th day on Prozac)

After 7 days his dosage was doubled without seeing his psychiatrist. When he did see her, two weeks later, I told her what happened, she said, "This will wear off after 3-4 weeks and that he (Jake) should continue on the Prozac."

His 46th day on Prozac saw him take his own life.

Now, she nor the pharmacist, or anybody else for that matter, ever showed us an information leaflet or told us the side effects, she has said since that she went through a suicide check list with Jake and he said 'no' to all the questions put to him by her.

"Nobody would take Prozac if such a black box warning was put into place." - Irish Medicines Board

In Ireland, where we live, Prozac, which I believe is responsible for so many deaths, does not carry a black box warning.

When we met with the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) and asked why there was no black box warning we were told that nobody would take Prozac if such a black box warning was put into place.

At no stage did I ever sign a consent form nor has the psychiatrist got one with my husband's signature on. In the meantime we are left with the aftermath of a child, who should be on the cusp of something wonderful in his life, now being buried 6ft under ground.

Why is nobody in the medical profession shocked or saddened that Jake is dead? Why do they tell so many lies afterwards? Why do they not want to stop the deaths of children? Why in God's name do they see fit to produce and prescribe a drug with side effects of suicide and self-harm, amongst hundreds of others to children? If they think this is okay then why is ecstasy, cocaine or LSD illegal, what is the difference? The side effects are all the same.

When Jake, towards the end, looked or acted in any way stressed, I, his mother, would ask did he take his medication, thinking his exams were stressing him and the Prozac would make it better. Little did I know, at the time, that it would kill him.

How, do we fix it? Well, we can't but what we can do is speak and fight for our child.

We as Jake's parents will never stop fighting for justice for Jake, no matter what the cost or time. I know the psychiatric profession hope I get bored and/or go away, I know Eli Lilly, who market and manufacture Prozac, hope I stop mentioning their drug. That's never going to happen! They, Eli Lilly and the treating psychiatrist are, I believe, both guilty and both carry Jake's blood on their hands for not informing us that this could happen.

Let's face it, what happened to Jake could happen to any family. We thought we were helping Jake, all we done by listening to the so called professionals, and I use that term lightly, is help kill Jake. This can never be fixed but this should be stopped. Anxiety is part and parcel of life, so is sadness, grief and relationship breakdowns, unemployment too. No tablet is ever going to fix any of the above, these are life circumstances not some made up disorder or a made up chemical imbalance.

If only we had been informed of the side effects I would not be writing this now because we would never have allowed Jake to have Prozac, what parent would?

If your child, or anybody you know, is a little anxious why in the world would you give them a drug with those side effects?

Jake's death was so preventable from start to finish, he was let down by all involved and I include us, his parents, in that statement. How stupid were we to listen to a "professional" when really nobody knows their child like a parent?

Shame on Eli Lilly, shame on the psychiatrist, shame on the IMB and Medical council, shame again on the coroners for not pointing out the dangers when all these inquests come before them.

We will have a voice for Jake, that I am certain of, it will never bring him back but everybody will know that our child was not at any time a depressed suicidal teenager, he was a normal child who died from a legal drug that induced self my son to kill himself.

Stephanie Lynch - Ireland.

My thoughts.

The story of Jake isn't isolated. Many parents who lose children to suicide often don't make the connection between an antidepressant induced suicide. Many coroners, who have a duty to give the dead a voice to protect the living, also rarely make the connection. In the case of the latter I believe it boils down to one of two things.

1. Coroners have a blind ignorance when it comes to making the connection between antidepressant induced suicide.

2. Coroners are aware of the link but choose not to publish their findings because they feel they may put people off taking their medication.

What strikes me as an odd statement in Stephanie's above post is the response of the Irish Medicine's Board regarding the black box warning.

"Nobody would take it if such a warning was put into place."

Isn't that the whole point?

When a land owner erects an electronic fence around his/her property he/she has a duty to warn that the fence is electric, ergo, do not touch it. He/she is warning you because you may die if you touch it. Shouldn't the same be said for Prozac? Exactly what is it that the Irish Medicine's Board are trying to say here?

I'm left scratching my head at this bizarre response from a regulator who are supposed to protect the public from unsafe drugs.

Stephanie blames herself for Jake's death, most parents, if not all who have lost a child to suicide, often do. I couldn't disagree more but do understand the guilt, obviously not through experience of losing a child to suicide because I'm fortunate to have all of my three children alive.

Jake was prescribed Prozac, a drug that has been given a clean bill of health by the Irish Medicine's Board and the British drug regulator, the MHRA. In both countries Prozac can be prescribed to children. Strangely, in the United States, Prozac is approved for use in children and adolescents for the treatment of major depressive disorder and for the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder. Jake had neither of these. He was just worried about his exams.

Moreover, Eli Lilly, who market and manufacture Prozac, have placed the following warning on the package insert for Prozac in the United States.

"Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors in Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults: Monitor for clinical worsening and suicidal thinking and behavior."

Clever marketing and deflecting of laying the blame individually on Prozac sees the manufacturer lump all antidepressants together when they write on the package insert the following message

"Increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults taking antidepressants."

You'll note that they don't mention their product by name in this statement.

Jake and his parents should have been told about the suicide link when he was prescribed Prozac. His inquest, which will be taking place shortly, should also go into the reasons why Jake or his parents were not warned in the same way that American children are.

A quick look on the MHRA website shows that there has been 111 reported suicides on Prozac - it's my belief that these figures should also be placed onto boxes or package inserts, consumers and parents have a right to know.

The Rxisk database, which gives more up to date figures and includes worldwide reports, shows that there has been 1,560 reported suicides on Prozac. Once again, I believe, that this information should be implemented into package inserts or, at the very least, relayed to patients or the parents of patients.

The system failed Jake, the whole system. The treating psychiatrist, the Irish Medicines Board, and Eli Lilly. Jake's parents put their trust in this system and their son paid the price of the incompetence of all of the above.

I do hope the coroner will, at the very least, ask questions on Jake's behalf... and also on behalf of any children who may in future years be labelled by some apparent mind expert who will, no doubt, prescribe these mind-altering, dangerous class of drugs. I also hope that the coroner returns a verdict of a drug induced suicide. Jake and his family deserve recognition that Prozac played a major role in Jake's death.

Worrying about school exams is not a brain disease. Prescribing mild altering drugs to children because they are worried about pending exams would, in my opinion, suggest that the prescriber has the brain disease.

Bob Fiddaman.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Elizabeth Kenny, Caught in the System

Every now and again, in life, you stumble across something that is beautiful, sad and, at the same time, profound. Sometimes, you read or hear something that makes you shout out in total agreement, particularly if that something is the very same something that you have been saying for many years.

Elizabeth Kenny - Thank you

Elizabeth Kenny is an actor, writer and activist. She is also someone that could, just possibly, save many from a life time of psychiatric drugs. Her one-woman show, 'Sick', is a true story of misdiagnosis and medication.

At 32, Elizabeth went to see her doctor because she had developed ovarian cysts. 18 months later she was spending time with level 5 patients from the psych ward where she had been admitted to.

'Sick', written by Elizabeth, in collaboration with John Kazanjian, ran for three months and sold out night after night at the  New City Theater in Seattle. There's a trailer for 'Sick' after the first video I wish to show you.

In this first video, Elizabeth talks to an audience about her experience at the hands of a psychiatrist and her subsequent journey and introduction to psychiatric drugs, namely Paxil, Celexa, Zyprexa and Lexapro.

Her delivery will captivate you and many regular readers of this blog will be, like I was, shouting in total agreement at what Elizabeth has to say.

Elizabeth Kenny, I salute you.

And here's the trailer for her one-woman show, 'Sick.'

Elizabeth's website can be found here.

Bob Fiddaman.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

GSK Use Delay Tactics on Grieving Widow

Doncha just love this company?

Fined $3 billion for committing fraud in the USA, basically promoting drugs to physicians for uses in patients that should never have been prescribed those drugs in the first place.

Fined $490 million in China for bribing doctors to prescribe drugs to patients that should never have been prescribed those drugs in the first place.

Had lawyers representing them (when there really was no need to) at the inquest of 18 year-old Sara Carlin, who took her own life whilst on Paxil.

Ordered to pay compensation to the family of Lyam Kilker after a jury found that Paxil was the cause of his birth defects.

Ordered to pay compensation to the family of Donald Schell, a 60 year old man, living in Gillette, Wyoming, after a jury had found that Paxil had induced Schell's hypomania to such an extent that he killed his wife Rita, his daughter Deb and baby Alyssa and then turned the gun on himself.

Initially refused to pay Joanne Thomas, a mother from Pennsylvania, any form of compensation after she accused GSK of manufacturing a pill (Paxil) that caused birth defects in her fetus (Ryan) - they later went on to settle (Undisclosed fee) after Joanne's attorneys 'renegotiated' after two stories that broke exclusively on this blog (here and here)

Agree to pay over 800 birth defect cases where Paxil was blamed for causing a multitude of birth defects in babies and fetuses.

Agree to settle with over 3,000 claimants in the US who filed a class action lawsuit claiming that they became addicted to Paxil (source) yet refuse to settle a similar 'class action' case in the UK.

One would think that all of the above would be a major embarrassment for the British pharmaceutical giant and their American attorneys, King & Spalding. Think again.

Stewart Dolin killed himself in 2010 by jumping in front of a train in Chicago. His wife, Wendy, filed suit alleging that Paxil had caused her husband to develop akathisia, a condition that causes psychological agitation.

GSK argued that Dolin was taking the generic version of Paxil marketed and manufactured by Mylan, ergo they were not responsible for the drug inducing suicide. However, a  U.S. District Judge told Mylan that they would not have to face any trial but said Glaxo was responsible for the generic drug's design and warning label and would have to face negligence claims.

Bitter, Glaxo then went on to subpoena Wendy Dolin's cellphone and text message records, her home phone and her late husband's company phone. So far, GSK have sent more than 30 subpoenas and over 70 records requests, and shown the Dolin children their father's confidential therapy notes despite Wendy Dolin's objections. According to Wendy Dolin's motion GSK have also questioned her about romantic life since her husband's death. Quite why they have questioned her about her life after her husband's death is beyond me. It does, however, show how low GSK, and their multi-million dollar law firm that represent them, will stoop to defend yet another Paxil suicide.

If all this wasn't enough, GSK have now, it appears, twisted the knife further into the stomach of Wendy Dolin by attempting to push the trial’s start date into 2016.

Law 360 (Subscription) are reporting that GSK's attorneys, King & Spalding, have told an Illinois federal judge that they don't have time to prepare, this, despite the case being filed over four years ago. King & Spalding are claiming that they are working on two other cases and don't have time to prepare themselves for the Dolin case.

I can't quite get to grips with GSK's apparent disdain for Wendy Dolin nor the lack of respect they are clearly not showing regarding the memory of Stewart Dolin.

I've gone on record many times stating that I do not like GSK or their attorneys, King & Spalding. I do not like the way they operate nor do I like what they each try to suppress regarding items of discovery (You really do need to read the Joanne Thomas articles to see exactly what they try to suppress)

As for GSK trying to blame Mylan, well, that doesn't really surprise me. Mylan sold Paxil under a generic name and Glaxo conveniently forgot to tell them about warning potential patients that Paxil may cause suicide. It's akin to a car salesperson selling you a car and failing to mention that the brakes don't work!

A pretty decent analogy given that earlier this year it was revealed that General Motors Co.'s emails with King & Spalding LLP and other outside counsel show the automaker engaged in a "massive cover-up" to hide its deadly ignition switch defect. (Source)

Wendy Dolin is represented by Michael L. Baum, Bijan Esfandiari, Frances M. Phares and R. Brent Wisner of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman PC and Joshua Weisberg and Lindsey Epstein of Rapoport Law Offices PC.

GSK is represented by Alan S. Gilbert and Melissa A. Economy of Dentons and Andrew T. Bayman, Todd P. Davis and Christopher R. Benson of King & Spalding LLP.

Bob Fiddaman.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Antidepressant Suicide Link in the News Again

First, three short summaries with links to the original sources.

COMPLETED SUICIDE: Andrew Farrow, 48-year-old, of Festival Close, Devizes, UK.

"A report from his GP stated he had been on anti-depressants for two weeks before he died as ongoing difficulties with his paralysis had made him feel depressed and hopeless.

"On the day of this death he requested a hospital stay again but it was decided that it was not required at that time and for treatment to continue at home. He was told that his request would be discussed at case review meeting later that day.

"He agreed to a medication review and a second visit later the same day.

"It was on this second visit that Mr Farrow’s body was found on the evening of July 7. When police entered his flat vodka bottles and tablet packets were found."

Swindon Advertiser - 15 April 2015


SUICIDE ATTEMPT: Australian actress, Paula Duncan, 43

"A few days later she began taking antidepressants, and it was during this time Duncan reveals she attempted to take her own life, with daughter Jessica finding her after a suicide attempt."

Daily Mail - 20 April 2015



"Jeff wondered if antidepressants might ease the anxiety he felt over quitting his job. A local psychiatrist recklessly prescribed one after a single, 45 minute session, and, eight days after taking his first pill, Jeff told us he was having suicidal thoughts. Two months later, after two additional antidepressants had been prescribed, Jeff was gone.

"A bright and vibrant young man with a loving family, a close circle of friends, and a passion for sports and politics fell prey to job-related situational anxiety. He was then put over the edge by his body's catastrophic chemical reaction to the introduction of an antidepressant. The enormity and unnecessary nature of our loss is beyond description."

The Journal News - April 23, 2015


When I read stories like this my immediate reaction is one of two things.

1. The medication induced the suicide attempt
2. No efficacy was shown in the medication.

I'm trying desperately hard to come up with a third point because the first two would suggest that these drugs shouldn't be on the market!

Perversely, when stories like this appear we get more calls for better mental health care - when in actual fact, it could be argued that it was the 'care' that put the above in situations where they attempted or completed suicide.

There's really nothing more to add.

For balance, I'll leave the last word to Irish psychiatrist, Patricia Casey.

Bob Fiddaman

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Psychiatry Taking the Biscuit

I've been itching to blog about this since I first read it earlier today. I thought I'd dip it in some warm tea first, digest it, then indulge myself. Hey, if the pro-antidepressant brigade can take the biscuit then why can't I?

The article, penned by Daily Mail Health correspondent, Jenny Hope, tries to offer balance in as much as we see one psychiatrist, Dr. David Healy, make claims that depression is not caused by low serotonin levels and most drugs used to treat it are based on a myth, while other psychiatrists, quoted in the article, um, basically agree with him yet make outlandish statements regarding the efficacy of antidepressants.

You confused? I certainly was after reading it.

In fact the professionals offered a chance to rebut Dr. Healy's claims, namely Professor Sir Simon Weasly, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Professor David Taylor, Director of Pharmacy and Pathology and Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences Clinical Academic Group, King’s Health Partners, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, actually make the article more entertaining with their blinkered views without actually offering any scientific evidence. NHS Choices and Dr Paul Keedwell, Consultant Psychiatrist and Specialist in Mood Disorder, also add input.

So, here's the crux of the article. Healy has claimed that the belief that the most popular antidepressant drugs raise serotonin levels in the brain is nothing more than a myth, adding, that they took off because of the idea that SSRIs restored serotonin levels to normal, ‘a notion that later transmuted into the idea that they remedied a chemical imbalance’.

So, all pretty standard stuff and nothing that we (who move in these circles) haven't heard before.

Here's where it gets interesting.

Weasly: "Antidepressants are helpful in depression, together with psychological treatments, is established. How they do this is not."

So, he is saying that, yes, antidepressants work but he, or anyone else for that matter, don't know why or how.

Weasly continues with, "Most researchers have long since moved on from the old serotonin model."

Great stuff Mr. Weasly but it would have been nice if this statement was followed up with an explanation as to what the current model is...if indeed there is one?

Next we have a spokesperson for NHS Choices chip in. They claim, "It would be too simplistic to say that depression and related mental health conditions are caused by low serotonin levels, but a rise in serotonin levels can improve symptoms."

So, NHS Choices are agreeing with Healy then?

I'm not so sure. Here's what they say about bipolar disorder, "Bipolar disorder is widely believed to be the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. The chemicals responsible for controlling the brain's functions are called neurotransmitters and include noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. If there is an imbalance in the levels of one or more neurotransmitters, a person may develop some symptoms of bipolar disorder."

Here's what they say about trichotillomania (hair pulling)

"As trichotillomania involves compulsive behaviour, some experts think it's closely related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD tends to run in families. It's thought to be caused by both biological and environmental factors, which may lead to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send messages from your brain to your nervous system. If something goes wrong with the way neurotransmitters work, it can cause problems, such as compulsive and repetitive behaviours."

Just two examples, both of which are not backed up with any scientific evidence whatsoever. In fact the evidence they run with is the classic line, " widely believed to be the result of..."

So, NHS Choices are, it seems, basing their evidence on some sort of faith? Exactly who are those believers and when and where did this belief originate from?

Healy offers the answer, and I concur. "...the misconception that low levels of serotonin were responsible for depression had become established fact." He suggested that the success of so-called SSRI drugs – which include Prozac and Seroxat – was based on the ‘marketing of a myth’.

Next, and somewhat absurdly, we see  David Taylor, Director of Pharmacy and Pathology and Head of Pharmaceutical Sciences Clinical Academic Group, King’s Health Partners, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, offer his opinion. (Because that's all it is)

"Professor Healy makes a forceful but poorly supported argument against something which doesn't and has never really existed: the idea that SSRIs ‘correct’ an ‘imbalance’ of serotonin in the brain."


So, let me get this straight. For years psychiatrists have been telling patients, adults, children and children's parents, that their depression is caused by a chemical imbalance yet Taylor claims that they haven't?

**Insert canned laughter here**

It's one thing to spin a lie but another to claim that the lie never existed. In any event, who made David Taylor the spokesperson for the whole of the psychiatry profession?

Like Weasly, Taylor follows up his statement with, "Researchers and psychiatrists alike know that SSRIs are effective in a number of disorders but no one is sure exactly how they work."

Guinea pig trials anyone?

If you don't know how a drug works then you won't know if that drug is causing an adverse event or not, right? You can, and more often than not you do, blame it on the condition, which, according to Weasly and Taylor, has nothing to do with a chemical imbalance.

Honestly, it would be easier to do the Rubik's cube behind my back then make heads or tails out of what Weasly and Taylor are saying here.

Finally, we have a sinister warning from Dr Paul Keedwell, Consultant Psychiatrist and Specialist in Mood Disorder.

"In the real world of the clinic, SSRIs are undeniably effective in treating individuals with major depression.

"They have become the first line treatment of choice because they have fewer troublesome side-effects than their predecessors, and are safer in overdose.

"David Healy has previously claimed that SSRIs cause dependence or provoke suicide. In so doing he has risked deterring individuals with severe depression from getting the help they need and this latest article just adds to this problem.

"The risk of suicide from untreated depression is much greater than the risk of treating it with antidepressants, and yes, this includes SSRIs."

So, in essence, Weasly, Taylor and Keedwell, don't know what causes depression but they know it isn't a chemical imbalance. They are all for prescribing SSRi's because, well, because they apparently have fewer side effects than the older types of antidepressants and are safer in overdose (apparently).

Yet neither Weasly, Taylor or, indeed, Keedwell know how SSRi's work. So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, they are suggesting that you and I take a drug that will alter the thoughts in your brain - they can't tell you how or why these drugs do it though.

Keedwell further criticises Healy for speaking out, claiming that Healy is deterring individuals with severe depression from getting the help they need.

Naughty Irishman - Last time I looked, he wasn't outside any pharmacy pointing a gun at people who were walking out with their pills to alter the chemical imbalance that they haven't got. Remember, we have to believe that the diagnosis of their 'illness' is based on a faith... it is widely believed, but we don't know by whom.

It's all about informed consent and, judging by the reaction of Messrs. Weasly, Taylor and Keedwell, it would seem that the only information they want you to believe is the information that they give you, which basically amounts to having no scientific evidence to back up their claims.

Doncha just love the wonderful world of psychiatry.

Bob Fiddaman.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Pfizer in Denial About Zoloft Birth Defects

So, multi-billion dollar making pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, are in court. They are (as expected) denying the link between their antidepressant drug, their multi-billion selling blockbuster Zoloft (Sertraline) and birth defects.

Are we surprised at their denial or surprised that Zoloft can cause birth defects?

Well, neither really.

So here's the case.

Logyn Pesante, (11) from California, was born with multiple heart defects, the most serious being transposition of the great arteries. In a nutshell, transposition of the great arteries occurs when the two main arteries going out of the heart (the pulmonary artery and the aorta) are switched in position, or “transposed”.Since his birth Logyn has undergone 25 procedures and six operations and has a pacemaker. The brave 11 year-old has also had to undergo three open-heart surgeries to address his multiple defects.

His mother, Kristyn Pesante, took Zoloft during the first trimester of her pregnancy and her attorney, Joseph Zonies of the Colorado law firm Reilly Pozner LLP, is claiming that birth defects and fetal deaths, reported by patients to Pfizer as early as 1991 should have seen Pfizer change its label on Zoloft or, at the very least, communicate these adverse events to physicians.

Pfizer's attorneys, Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP. are arguing that that there is no evidence to prove Zoloft causes birth defects. This, despite the adverse events reported to them by patients and also a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007 which found that pregnant women taking Zoloft faced double the risk of having a child with a birth defect.

More damning, for Pfizer at least, is a document submitted as evidence by Pesante's attorneys that shows a May 2014 internal report at Pfizer sees them admit that women taking Zoloft (sertraline) had an increased risk of having babies with heart defects. The document, Pfizer claim, has been taken out of context. Pfizer claim that, “Plaintiffs have taken a single statement in one document, summarizing the results of a few studies, out of context.”

Robert Cabera, a doctor at a University of Texas institute, has been called as an expert witness for Pesante and told jurors that his review of research on babies born with medical issues convinced him that Zoloft was clearly “a risk factor for birth defects, especially heart defects.”

I'll leave the last words with Beth Wilkinson, (Pictured) one of the lawyers representing Pfizer.

"None of the mother’s doctors had identified Zoloft as the cause of her son’s birth defects and experts say its impossible to know exactly what causes such problems.

“Sometimes, bad things happen to good people,”


The case is Pesante v. Pfizer Inc., 1222-CCO-2441, Missouri Circuit Court, 22nd Judicial District (St. Louis).


Pfizer Accused of Knowing Zoloft Posed Birth-Defect Risk

St. Louis jury hears nation's first suit claiming Zoloft caused birth defects

Bob Fiddaman.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

2 year-old Arianah and GSK's Zofran

What is Zofran?

Zofran (Ondansetron) is the brand name of a drug marketed and manufactured by global pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline. It is used, primarily, for the prevention of nausea and vomiting following surgery and for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.

Off -Label Uses

It is also used “off-label” as a treatment for morning sickness in pregnant women, although it has never been approved for use in pregnant women.

Who is Arianah?

Arianah Reisen is a 2 year-old girl who was born with two “hole in the heart” defects. Her heart has enlarged to twice its normal size. She is scheduled to undergo open heart surgery next month. Her mother, Kylee Riesen, believes that Arianah’s condition was caused by the anti-nausea drug Zofran that she took during her pregnancy.

Why are GlaxoSmithKline being sued?

It is alleged that GlaxoSmithKline became aware of the Zofran birth defect risk in the 1990's but failed to warn expectant mothers and/or their doctors.

Can an anti-nausea drug really cause heart defects?

GlaxoSmithKline will argue that there is no proof that Zofran can or has caused birth defects but evidence suggests otherwise. They will also deny that they promoted its use "off-label."

Evidence - Zofran heart defects

At a 2013 meeting of the International Society of Pharmcoepidemiology, Jon T. Anderson, a researcher at the Copenhagen University Hospital, reported the results of a study of more than 900,000 births in Denmark. The report highlighted that women who took Zofran during the first trimester had a two- to four-fold increased risk of cardiac septal defects.

A 2013 study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that Zofran increased the risk of cleft palate by nearly two-and-a-half times.

A 2014 Swedish study, published in Reproductive Toxicology, found a more than 60% increase in risk of cardiovascular defects and a two-fold (double) increased risk of cardiac septal defects.

Evidence of GlaxoSmithKline promoting drugs for "off-label" use

"GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) agreed to plead guilty and to pay $3 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs." (Source)

One of those prescription drugs was Zofran. In short, GSK:

  • marketed Zofran as a safe and effective treatment for morning sickness, despite the fact that it had not been approved for use in pregnant women.
  • produced marketing materials that contained unsubstantiated or false claims of Zofran’s safety as a treatment for morning sickness.
  • paid physicians kickbacks to prescribe Zofran to pregnant women suffering from morning sickness.

Why did GlaxoSmithKline conceal this information from doctors and patients?

Anyone want to hazard a guess?

Fiddy Rant

I've been blogging about GlaxoSmithKline since 2006. I even wrote a book about them (The evidence, however, is clear, the Seroxat scandal). During my time writing about them they have threatened to sue me for defamation (or libel - I can't remember what terminology their British lawyers used) They failed in that attempt to suppress my opinion.

I have a passion for justice, especially where it involves children, infants and fetuses harmed or killed by drugs manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. I strongly believe that GlaxoSmithKline are in the business of putting profit ahead of patient care, be that with antidepressant drugs they market and manufacture, (Paxil, Wellbutrin) or be that with their diabetes drug, Avandia or, as is in this case, an anti-nausea drug, Zofran, they market and manufacture.

I don't like GlaxoSmithKline, particularly their CEO, Andrew Witty. I don't like their American lawyers that defend them in cases, nor do I like their British lawyers who defend them in litigation in the UK. It has occurred to me during the past 9 years or so of writing this blog that it takes a person with a blackened heart to defend a company that is corrupt to the core (That's my opinion and it's not aimed at any particular law firm who defend GSK)

Ideally, I would love to see executives of GlaxoSmithKline behind bars for the crimes that they have committed. It's the executives who make the decisions that are fed down to the managers, who in turn feed that information to the GSK reps. This is normally the crux of any litigation brought against GSK. Their executives deny promoting the use of unsafe, untested drugs, the managers deny, the reps deny. Evidence used in these types of cases will show that they are lying...this is the evidence that the Judge, 9 times out of 10, seals away from the public. It's a real beef of mine.

I am aware that litigation is all about reaching settlements between both parties, I just wish Judges involved in these types of cases would allow the evidence to go public once these cases have been settled. It's almost like they (Judges) offer GSK some sort of consolation prize when they are forced to settle cases.

This one is for Glaxo and lawyers representing them. I hope the images of Arianah Reisen play havoc with your sleep patterns... although I doubt very much that any human suffering conjures up any form of emotion in you. Zofran has made GSK an obscene amount of money. Meantime, children, such as two year-old Arianah Reisen, have to go through life by laying down on operating tables having their hearts worked on by heart specialists - all because GSK wanted to make a profit. It's utterly shameful and it warrants a form of justice, not just compensatory payment, it warrants jail time for all of those involved in the suppression of Zofran causing harm to babies. That, however, is down to the man, or woman, who holds the gavel.

Rant over. Here's two year-old Arianah Reisen.

For more information on the birth defects caused by Zofran and to see if you, or someone you know, has a potential claim, visit the Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC Zofran page, HERE.

Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC are the good guys. They've won many cases against GSK in the past and genuinely have their client's interest at heart (Pardon the pun)

Bob Fiddaman.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Is This The World That We Created?

       An article in the Wall Street Journal from Feb this year was recently brought to my attention. The article in question reports on how psychiatric drugs are now being given to infants and toddlers in unprecedented numbers.

       The article refers to an analysis of 2013 IMS Data. (the world’s leading health information and analytics company) The WSJ writes...

"An analysis of 2013 IMS Data, found that over 274,000 infants (0-1 year olds) and some 370,000 toddlers (1-3 years age) in the U.S. were on anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs. This report also found over 1,400 infants were on ADHD drugs."
       I find this report quite alarming given that the majority of these class of drugs have never been proven to work in these age groups. More alarming, for me at least, is the fact that parents are allowing their children to take these mind altering drugs. Okay, look, I understand how difficult it can be if your child is acting up or crying all the time, I'm a father of three myself so I kinda know the score. But I cannot for the life of me think why any parent would allow these dangerous and addictive mind altering drugs to be taken by these little vulnerable people.

       Let just look at the paragraph again.

       "274,000 infants (0-1 year-olds) were on anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs."

       Now imagine London's iconic Wembley Stadium being filled three times by 0-1 year-olds. The photo below really shows you the scope of this problem. Put a 0-1 year-old on each of the red seats, give them each a diagnosis (a guess at what's wrong with them) them - treat them with powerful drugs purely based on that guess. Remove the 0-1 year-olds from each of the seats then fill the stadium again with other 0-1 year-olds - same process - have a man in a white coat diagnose them (guessing what is wrong with them) allow the same man in white coat to prescribe them mind-altering drugs. Repeat the process a third time.

The modern world

       Now, here's the hypocrisy of it all. If we substituted the 0-1 year-olds for psychiatrists and we put a giant screen in the middle of the pitch with a slide show of a bunch of symptoms, the psychiatrists would diagnose and offer not only different illnesses but they would treat with different drugs too.

       It's not science, it's purely profit driven and pimped by these idiotic bufoons in white coats who think they know how the brain works, when in actual fact they just don't have a clue.

       "No conferring please, just write down what you believe the patient has then write down, once again with no conferring, how you would treat that illness."

       Oh, by the way, here's what they mean when they say 0-1 year old's

Estimated age - between 0 - 1 years old

       Who in their right mind would prescribe drugs to such a bundle of joy as the one above? Moreover, what parent, of sound mind, would agree to such lunacy?

       What are medicine regulators doing about this? Well, in a nutshell, nothing. They claim that there are warnings on the drugs that state that they are not recommended for children - maybe so, but the word 'recommended' means jack-shit, even if you stick the word 'not' in front of it.

       Will we see top executives of pharmaceutical companies speaking out about this lunacy? Of course not - these same executives have, in the past, devised clever marketing schemes to target this very same age-group.

       So, what can be done? Do we just shrug our shoulders and do nothing and continue to post photographs of fluffy bunnies on Facebook or do we actually reach out to help these kids?

       It's pretty shameful that so many kids are being diagnosed and treated with this vast cocktail of mind-bending addictive medications. It's pretty shameful that parents could neglect their own flesh and blood in such a manner and that the adults who look after the health and safety of consumers who take these drugs (FDA, MHRA, TGA etc) sit back and do nothing.

       As for the pharmaceutical executives who have, in the past, told their reps to promote these drugs to this vulnerable age group, fucking shame on you.

       Shame on us all for standing back and getting on with our own lives when these kids are targeted by the maniacs in white coats.

       Here's the full WSJ article

Bob Fiddaman.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Almost a Quarter of 'Suicide' Pilots on Psych Drugs

Well, wouldn't you know it.

CNBC are running with the headline, 'Germanwings crash prompts overhaul, calls for more mental health checks.' - only thing is, the article does not state who is actually 'calling.' Is it the airlines, is it worried passengers or is it those that work in the field of mental health?

On Thursday The Boston Globe ran a very thought-provoking article regarding the 24 US Aircraft-assisted suicides between 1993-2012.

The data collected showed toxicology reports for 21 of the 24 pilots. They were unable to obtain toxicology reports for 3 of the 24 pilots.

So, we have 21 pilots to work from.

Out of those 21 pilots, 5 were on psychiatric medication, or at least had psychiatric medication in their bloodstream at the time of the Aircraft-assisted suicide.

Case #8 - Pilot (41) - Diazepam, Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety)

Case  #9 - Pilot (40) - Alcohol, Cocaine, Diazepam & Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety), Temazepam (insomnia), Oxazepam (anti-anxiety/depression)

Case #14 - Pilot (54) - Venlafaxine, Desmethylvenalfaxine (depression)

Case #18 - Pilot (44) - Fluoxetine & Citalopram (depression), Diphenhydramine (allergic reactions/motion sickness), Alcohol

Case #22 - Pilot (25) - Alcohol, Citalopram (depression), Clonazepam (anti-anxiety)

It would be churlish of me to suggest that the drugs made them do it so, just like the Boston Globe data, I will show you the other mitigating circumstances.

Case  #8 - Marriage proposal declined

Case  #9 - Criminal history; suspect of arson

Case #14 - Under therapy for severe depression

Case #18 - History of depression w/ hospitalizations; shortly before the event, he was in hospital for attempted suicide

Case #22 - Distraught over breakup with girlfriend; alcohol and medication consumption prior to accident

Cases 14 and 18, it appears, show that the two pilots were diagnosed with depression and treated with medication. The other three cases don't seem so cut and dry.

Case 8 had a marriage proposal decline yet was found to have Diazepam and Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety) in his system. Was he being treated or did he just manage to get his hands on these tablets? If he was being treated then I cannot see anything in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) that states that dealing with a marriage proposal decline is a mental illness.

Case 9 had a criminal history and was suspected of arson, yet in his blood system we find Diazepam & Nordiazepam (anti-anxiety), Temazepam (insomnia), Oxazepam (anti-anxiety/depression). Again, nothing in the DSM about using medication on someone with a criminal history.

Case 22 was distraught over breakup with girlfriend. In his system they found Citalopram (depression), Clonazepam (anti-anxiety). Since when does splitting up with a partner deem someone as being mentally ill?

So, a staggering 23.8% of pilots who took part in Aircraft-assisted suicides between 1993-2012 were on psychiatric medication/or had taken psychiatric medication prior to the suicide.

Now, we have more "calls" for mental health checks which will no doubt mean more pilots on psychiatric medication.

Now, let's take a look at the three pilots that they wasn't able to pull toxicology results from.

Case #11 - Restraining order; escorted away from home

Case #16 - Ongoing treatment for depression

Case #24 - Difficulties in personal life; joked about suicide

I think we can be, at the least, 90% certain that case 16 was on some form of antidepressant medication. If this was the case then it pushes the total figure of Aircraft-assisted suicides that were medicated up to 27.2% (6 out of 22 pilots)

If case 24 had difficulties in his personal life and was being treated, just as case numbers 8, 9 and 22 were, then the figure rises again to 30.4%

However, we cannot speculate.

The fact still remains. 23.8% of pilots who took part in Aircraft-assisted suicides between 1993-2012 were on psychiatric medication/or had taken psychiatric medication prior to the suicide.

Now let's breakdown the list of drugs.

Diazepam (2)
Nordiazepam (2)
Citalopram (2)


Side Effect Reports – By Outcome

Completed suicide (1,885 reported)



Nordiazepam is the primary metabolite of diazepam

Completed suicide (1,885 reported) (diazepam)



Completed suicide (543 reported)



Completed suicide (87 reported)



Completed suicide (1,818 reported)



Completed suicide (147 reported)



Completed suicide (1,560 reported)



Completed suicide (2,191 reported)



Completed suicide (1,924 reported)

I don't know about you but I'd much rather know if a pilot was on antidepressant-type medication given the above results, wouldn't you?

Now, here's the rub folks.

On April 5, 2010, the FAA announced that pilots who take one of four SSRi antidepressant medications – Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), Citalopram (Celexa), or Escitalopram (Lexapro) – will be allowed to fly if they have been satisfactorily treated on the medication for at least 12 months.

Two from that list, namely Fluoxetine and Citalopram, were found in the toxicology reports of pilots #18 and #22.

It begs the question, why did the FAA, in 2010, announce that pilots would be allowed to fly on 4 SSRi type medications, two of which have since been found in pilots who have used an aircraft as a choice of suicide?

Will be interesting if German authorities release details of the prescription medications they found in the apartment of Andreas Lubitz, although I suspect the media will focus on his state of mind rather that what prescription medication may have contributed to his state of mind.

It ain't rocket science folks but the mainstream media are still missing the bigger picture, as are the FAA and other aviation authorities.

Bob Fiddaman.

**Completed suicide figures obtained from RxISK drug database.


Co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz Germanwings

Andreas Lubitz - The Drugs Don't Work.

SSRIs Render Unfriendly Skies.

Documents obtained from the FAA under the Freedom of Information Act.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Andreas Lubitz - The Drugs Don't Work.

Following on from my previous post, Co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz Germanwings, where I suggested that the media should have been asking questions about the role psychiatric drugs may have played, its now being reported that medications (to treat mental illness) were found in the apartment where Lubitz lived by German authorities. The Australian writes...

"Large quantities of prescription medicines used for treating mental illness were found in his flat."

What's striking here is the plural, 'medicines.' If the press are correct in reporting that there were a number of psychiatric medicines then this story can go one of two ways.

First off, the press can focus on his medical condition, something they have already been reporting on. Most media outlets are suggesting that Lubitz was suffering from “severe overload syndrome.” Other newspapers are running with the term, "psychosomatic illness."

It's also being reported that Lubitz may have had vision problems but tried to hide this, and his psychosomatic illness from his employer.

So, a psychosomatic illness is defined as concerning or involving both mind and body. According to HealhGrades, a website aimed at professionals, psychosomatic illnesses can be classified in three general types.

They write...

"The first type includes people who have both a mental (psychiatric) illness and a medical illness, and these illnesses complicate the symptoms and management of each other. The second type includes people who have a psychiatric problem that is a direct result of a medical illness or its treatment, such as having depression due to cancer and its treatment.
"The third type of psychosomatic illness is somatoform disorders. Somatoform disorders are psychiatric disorders that are displayed through physical problems. In other words, the physical symptoms people experience are related to psychological factors rather than a medical cause."

Crystal clear, huh?

Now, if the media are reporting that this man had a psychosamtic illness and it appears he was being treated with prescription medications then one has to ask why?

Medscape, another website aimed at healthcare professionals, write...

"Based on studies of somatization disorder, medication approaches rarely are successful for this condition. Physicians should search for evidence of psychiatric comorbidity, such as depression or an anxiety disorder. If present, medication interventions specific to the diagnosis can be attempted. Successful treatment of a major depression or an anxiety disorder, such as panic disorder, also may produce significant reduction in somatization disorder."

I find the above quite laughable. On one hand medication for a diagnosed psychosamtic illness rarely works and, it appears, that healthcare professionals should search for evidence that points to another disorder. Once they find this other 'disorder' they can then, if they wish, medicate. Isn't this a bit like searching for something and just not accepting that what you are searching for isn't there?

A paper, published last year in PubMed, suggests that "there exists no systematic review or meta-analysis on the efficacy and tolerability of these medications." (1)

Furthermore, the authors found that "Adverse effects produced by medication can have amplifying effects on symptom perceptions, particularly in people focusing on somatic symptoms without medical causes."

Am I painting the picture for you here?

So, the media can focus on the psychosomatic illness that Lubitz allegedly had or, like me, they can start asking questions. Namely, why was Lubitz prescribed medications for his 'illness' when;

a, medication approaches rarely are successful for this condition.
b, there exists no systematic review or meta-analysis on the efficacy and tolerability of these medications
c, Adverse effects produced by medication can have amplifying effects on symptom perceptions, particularly in people focusing on somatic symptoms.

The German authorities have a duty to name the drugs this man was taking. The world press have a duty to ask the questions regarding the treatment of this illness.

Why was Lubitz on medication when published papers in high profile medical journals suggest that drug treatment doesn't really help?

I am kind of skeptical about the whole diagnosis. It's basically a psychiatric disorder diagnosed when no other psychiatric disorder can be found. It's a bit like your psychiatrist on a fishing trip. He throws his net into the water and catches just three fish. He then makes the net bigger and, voila, he lands more fish!

Judging by the media reports Lubitz was a troubled man. It would appear that his dream of flying and one day making Captain had been dashed. This could be because he had visionary problems or maybe because he had this ongoing psychosomatic illness.

I'm betting that the media will focus on his background and the illness and will not entertain the fact that the drugs he was prescribed may have contributed to his heinous act.

The jury's out folks.

Bob Fiddaman.

(1) Pharmacological interventions for somatoform disorders in adults.
Kleinstäuber M1, Witthöft M, Steffanowski A, van Marwijk H, Hiller W, Lambert MJ.