Psychiatric Drugs

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Half million die early in EU and US from psychiatric drugs

1.     Prof Peter Gotzsche  Gotzsche, author of the 2013 book Deadly Medicines and Organized Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare  Radcliff publishing, Ltd.  Perhaps even more extraordinary than the careful case made by this blunt soothsayer is the fact that Richard Smith, the former editor of the British Medical Journal, agreed to write the book's foreword.  Another is by Drummond Rennie, Deputy Editor of JAMA. Both are major figures in the medical field; they praise the quality of the critical articles and books written by PC Gotzsche, and given their backgrounds accept his conclusions as accurate.

2.     A number of insiders at the highest levels have gone public.  You can watch two of them. Marcia Angell and Ben Goldacre by going to my video page and clicking on the YouTube links.  One major theme is that the evidence base is broken.  A glimpse of that distort appeared in a NEJM article.  Researchers obtain the raw data submitted to the FDA for the approval of several major psychiatric drugs by using the Freedom of Information Act.  Their comparison of this raw data to pharma’s wrote up of the results as published in 74 journal articles exposed a 32% positive bias.  Yes, the positive results relied on by physicians and thus the public favors the manufacturers of the drugs who funded the clinical trials and wrote up the results.   

I have just acquired (June 2015) PC Gotzsche’s latest book Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare,

3.      Aug 31, 2013  by Peter C. Gotzsche   Press releases: Monday 11 May to Friday 15 May 2015

Debate: Is the long term use of psychiatric drugs harmful?


The controversial topic will be discussed by leading experts at the Maudsey Debate, King’s College London


The benefits of psychiatric drugs have been exaggerated and the harms underplayed due to poor trial designs, argues one expert in The BMJ. But another expert and a patient contend that the evidence supports the use of these drugs.  More than half a million people aged above 65 years die from the use of psychiatric drugs every year in the Western world and the benefits would need to be colossal to justify these immensely harmful treatments, argues Peter Gotzsche, professor and director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, Denmark.  But benefits are "minimal", he explains, adding that these treatments should almost exclusively be used in acute situations". New guidelines should support this change as well as widespread withdrawal clinics to help many patients gradually come off these medications.  Benefits have been over emphasised and harms understated, he says, because randomised controlled trials have been biased, not blinded appropriately, have not fully evaluated the effects of these drugs and deaths have gone under reported.  For example, the majority of studies have included patients already using a psychiatric drug and such patients may undergo abstinence and suffer from withdrawal symptoms. As a result, this study design exaggerates benefits and increases harms, and has even driven some patients to suicide, he explains.


Industry funded trials have under reported deaths, he adds, estimating that there have probably been 15 times more suicides among people taking antidepressants than reported by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  He calculates that deaths from three classes of drugs:  antipsychotics, benzodiazepines and similar drugs, and antidepressants.  They were responsible for 3693 deaths every year in Denmark. This number corresponds to 539,000 deaths in the United States and European Union combined.  [Since the average age of suicide is about 40 years, this entails as measured by years lost a greater figure than cigarettes which kill mostly those over the age of 60 through heart attacks and secondly by cancer.]


The effects of psychiatric drugs are so small, he says, and that it would be possible to lower current use by 98%. He recommends stopping the use of all antidepressant, ADHD and dementia drugs, and prescribing only 6% of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines.  But Allan H Young, a professor of mood disorders at King’s College London, and John Crace, a psychiatric patient, argue that research supports the use of psychiatric drugs which are just as beneficial and efficacious as treatments for other common, complex conditions.  These drugs are needed, they insist, to reduce the long term harms of psychiatric conditions, which are the fifth leading cause of disability worldwide. Most patients suffer from co-existing health conditions, they add, a primary cause of death among this group.

They explain that psychiatric drugs are rigorously examined for efficacy and safety and while the evidence base is imperfect, research shows that psychiatric drugs are more beneficial than harmful.  Careful evaluation of these drugs is undertaken before and after regulatory approval, they explain, and that post surveillance after a drug is licensed can include safety of a medication in the general population, which unlike study populations, includes people with varied medical conditions.


Yet concerns persist and many are overinflated, they add, and list recent studies supporting the use of lithium, once labelled a "toxic placebo", and antipsychotics, and treatments for mood disorders. But as with any drug treatment, the harms and benefits need to be evaluated from group data in trials, and be applied to individual patients whose subjective experiences are important to consider, they argue. 


For more information please contact:

Emma Dickinson
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Press Office telephone: 020 7383 6254 (Weekdays: 0900hrs to 1800hrs) 
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In this cohort of children and youth who had recently initiated use of an antipsychotic or a control psychotropic drug, antipsychotic users had a risk of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes three-times greater than that for propensity score-matched controls. The excess risk occurred within the first year of antipsychotic use, increased with cumulative antipsychotic dose, and was present for children 6 to 17 years of age. The increased risk persisted for up to 1 year following cessation of antipsychotic use, and in one series, the majority of cases occurred within 6 months of drug initiation," the study authors say."  During that time, a staggering 28,858 young recipients were put on antipsychotic drugs. Another 14,429 control patients were prescribed alternative medication.

During the first year follow-up period, 106 incident cases of type-2 
diabetes cropped up among all studied participants. The rate of those placed on anti-psychotic drugs was three times higher within the first year. Also, the average age for drug-induced diabetes occurrence was 16.7 years.

Suicide prevention is one of the main goals of treating mental disorders; however, today's new age antipsychotic drug treatments are making this issue worse. One of the most comprehensive, historic psychiatry evaluations reveals that patients treated with antipsychotics today are 20 times more likely to commit suicide. The rates are shocking.  Antipsychotics seem to create much more violent patients.  The study comes from the historic review, "Lifetime Suicide Rates in Treated Schizophrenia: and 1994-1998 Cohorts Compared. The clinical director of a university hospital in London, Dr. Trevor Turner, writes, "If their figures are carefully boiled down, they show that in the course of 5 years the historical cohort had 1 suicide in 594 individuals, whereas the present-day cohort had 7 suicides in 133 individuals. Thus, patients treated with new age antipsychotic drugs have a 20-fold increased risk of suicide compared to those treated without drugs in Victorian times. In the review, the 1875-1924 time frame showed suicide rates much smaller in schizophrenia treated patients. The records from the asylum in North Wales show suicide rates of 20 for every 100,000 hospital years, equating to less than 0.5% lifetime rate.

In a more modern era patient group, between 1994-1998, the rate of suicide was 135 per 100,000 patient years, or a 4% lifetime rate. This translates to a 20-fold increase in suicide rates for patients with schizophrenia in the modern period.