All posts by Aled Jones

Britain loses medicines contracts as EU body anticipates Brexit

Britain’s leading role in evaluating new medicines for sale to patients across the EU has collapsed with no more work coming from Europe because of Brexit, it has emerged.

The decision by the European Medicines Agency to cut Britain out of its contracts seven months ahead of Brexit is a devastating blow to British pharmaceutical companies already reeling from the loss of the EMA’s HQ in London and with it 900 jobs.

All drugs sold in Europe have to go through a lengthy EMA authorisation process before use by health services, and the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in Britain has built up a leading role in this work, with 20-30% of all assessments in the EU.

The MHRA won just two contracts this year and the EMA said that that work was now off limits. “We couldn’t even allocate the work now for new drugs because the expert has to be available throughout the evaluation period and sometimes that can take a year,” said a spokeswoman.

In a devastating second blow, existing contracts with the MHRA are also being reallocated to bloc members.

Martin McKee, the professor of European health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has given evidence to select committees about Brexit, said it was a disaster for the MHRA, which had about £14m a year from the EMA.

The head of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry said it was akin to watching a “British success story” being broken up.

Mike Thompson, the chief executive of the association, said: “Clearly we’ve all been incredibly proud of the MHRA’s role over the last few years. They’d established themselves as one of the most respected regulators across all of Europe and industry. It’s been a British success story.”

The EMA said that because of the long lead-time involved in assessing medicines it could no longer award the lead contracts to British people since there was no guarantee they would be part of the EU after March 2019.

It is understood the MHRA bid for 36 EMA contracts this year but were only awarded two, and these were for drugs for which evaluation had already begun.

The situation is a stark contrast to 2016 when the UK was the lead assessor, known as the rapporteur, on 22 applications, and was joint lead or co-rapporteur on 19 multinational applications.

This made it the number one in Europe, with Germany’s regulator behind with 22 lead contracts but only 12 co-contracts.

…..

An MHRA statement said:

“We want to retain a close working partnership with the EU to ensure patients continue to have timely access to safe medicines and medical devices. This involves us making sure our regulators continue to work together, as they do with regulators internationally, and we would like to explore with the EU the terms on which the UK could continue to participate in the EMA.”

 

more on this story here

 

 

Trusting the “medical” system?

This five minutes could be the most important for your health & honest statement spoken about the medical “industry”.

 

 

The full two hours debate here

Super session in the 2-hour European Parliament meeting on Thursday – so many issues raised by Dr. Aseem Malhotra, MEP Nathan Gill, Sir Richard Thomson, Professor Hanno Pijl and Sarah Macklin. Now edited with HD footage and clear sound. Let’s get the message out – MEP Nathan Gill and Aseem reckon a million views would be a great goal – only if it gets shared like hell !

To allow doctors to be honest and give best advice for our health, the medical and pharmaceutical industry needs transparency and movement away from profit orientated business and poor medicine.

Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

Antidepressant Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

My Doctor/Psychiatrist told me that I have to take an antidepressant to correct a
chemical imbalance in my brain, is this true?

No, it is a myth, we cannot test or measure the state of neurotransmitters in your brain, the
American Psychiatric Association disavowed this myth in 2011(1). It is a pharmaceutical
company invention (2).

How many people experience withdrawal effects?

It varies according to which drug is used, at what dosage, and for how long. Recent
studies (3) are showing the number affected to be greater than 50% of those taking the
drugs. The UK Royal College of Psychiatrists did their own survey (4) (now removed) which
showed that 63% reported withdrawal effects.

Why does my doctor/psychiatrist keep saying ‘discontinuation syndrome’ when I
mention withdrawal?

Discontinuation syndrome is an invented term (5) which minimises the role of the drug in the
harm caused and steers users away from addiction terminology. While dependence and
withdrawal have some features in common with addiction, they are not accurately
described using just this approach. What you are experiencing is an effect of withdrawing
from a drug, not of discontinuing treatment.

Why does my doctor insist that ‘once the drug is out of my system’ I will be fine?

Because not all doctors understand the effects of antidepressant drugs on the brain (6). A
heavy drinker or smoker may suddenly stop drinking/smoking, but the effects on their brain
and nervous system continue to be felt long after they have quit. Antidepressant drugs
change the brain in ways we don’t currently understand. These adaptations (7) to the drug
are responsible for withdrawal effects.

What does withdrawal feel like?

It’s a highly variable experience ranging from mild symptoms which pass quickly, to
profound symptoms that sometimes persist for many years. In a 2017 survey (8), 46% of
those reporting withdrawal symptoms described them as ‘severe’. Most common reported
symptoms (9) are insomnia, dizziness, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, panic,
depression, agitation. Withdrawal symptoms can sometimes mimic depressive or anxious states but should not be confused with relapse (10).

I am worried about dependence, what should I do?

The most important thing is never stop your drugs suddenly, this can be dangerous. Talk to
your doctor but be prepared as many doctors do not have the information to be able to
help. Withdrawal is a unique experience, with no fixed rules.

There are some excellent and
reliable online sources for help including:
• theinnercompass.org
• madinamerica.com/drug-withdrawal-resources
• survivingantidepressants.org
www.jfmoore.co.uk August, 2018
Antidepressant Withdrawal – What we Know and Don’t Know

References (to read these online visit www.jfmoore.co.uk/ltw.html)
1. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/couch-crisis/psychiatry-new-brain-mind-andlegend-chemical-imbalance
2. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-depression-just-bad-chemistry/
3. http://roar.uel.ac.uk/7402/
4. RCPsych survey (now deleted)
5. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/side-effects/201107/antidepressantwithdrawal-syndrome
6. http://time.com/3399344/antidepressant-changes-the-brain-study-finds/
7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4118946/
8. http://roar.uel.ac.uk/7402/
9. https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/370338
10.http://www.stacommunications.com/journals/diagnosis/2006/Diagnosis_sep_06/DS.pdf
www.jfmoore.co.uk August, 2018

What we know about antidepressant withdrawal V1

James Moore

Three mental health centres in the Vale of Glamorgan are set to close down

 

 

 

Three centres which support adults with mental health difficulties are set to close down, it has been revealed.

The Amy Evans Centre in Barry , Hafan Dawel in Penarth and Cowbridge Health Centre will all shut in September, with their respective teams joining forces and moving to Barry Hospital.

While mental health charities say the decision will lead to a more comprehensive service being provided under one roof, there are fears moving them further away from some people’s homes could cause harm to patients.

Full Story

Opioid Epidemic UK

It is not easy to get a comprehensive picture of the overall situation regarding the prescribing of OP and the purchase of codeine-containing OTC formulations, but piecing together the evidence from various datasets reveals that the UK population is consuming considerable and increasing amounts of OP:

 In 2012, some ten million people in the UK were prescribed an OP, more than double the next nearest EU country France at four million

 In 2013, the UK had the highest sales of morphine by volume than any other country in the EU

 In 2013, the UK had the highest sales of opiates like codeine by volume than any other country in the EU and between 2010-2013 the UK had a 6% growth in sales, against the next largest margin increase in the EU.

 In 2011, Northern Ireland has highest annual prevalence of prescription opioid use in the world (8.4%)

 In the period 1994-2009, Tramadol prescribing increased tenfold and all OP showed significant increases in level of prescribing during this period with the exception of dihydrocodeine. Just in England, the number of prescriptions rose from around three million in 1991 to 23 million by 2014.

 Defined Daily Doses for Tramadol in England have increased from 5.9 million in 2005 to 11.1 million in 2012.

 Between 2001-2011, prescription for co-codamol almost doubled from 8.8 million to 15 million

Since the early 1980s, the extensive professional, political and media discourse about drug misuse and addiction has centred on the use of a wide range of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine, and ecstasy. There is also a public and professional awareness about the dependency potential of tranquillisers and antidepressants highlighted, for example, by class actions brought against pharmaceutical companies, media reports and articles, popular and medical books, TV documentaries, and guidelines produced by the medical profession to advise against over-prescribing. That said, the very existence of this APPG indicates continuing and very real concerns not only about the startling level of prescribing of tranquillisers and antidepressants3, but also the lack of specialist help underlined by the recent closure of some of the few charitable helping agencies that do exist.

In recent years too, there has been a growing awareness of the dangers of OP, most notably dependency and overdose. The evidential base is most developed in the USA where celebrity revelations including Michael Jackson, Burt Reynolds, Melanie Griffiths and Jamie Lee Curtis have served to foreground the risks demonstrated by the epidemiological evidence and clinical case reporting.4 It has been suggested that much of the problem has derived from the progression from only prescribing OP for acute pain and cancer treatment to more generalised chronic pain conditions which has led to more widespread misuse and rising mortality in many Western countries.

In the UK, public and professional awareness in the UK of the potential dependency and overdose risks of OP has been patchy. Despite some sporadic press coverage going back into the 1990s, the subject really didn’t hit the headlines until 2009 with the publication of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drugs report, An inquiry into physical dependence and addiction to prescription and over-the-counter medication. The remit covered tranquillisers, anti-depressants and OP and MPs took evidence from campaigners, doctors, clinical researchers, government agencies and the pharmaceutical industry.

Exerpts from

Opioid painkiller dependency (OPD): an overview.
A report written for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Prescribed Medicine Dependency by Harry Shapiro

Podcasts & Audio Files

Episode 1 Professor John Read on the epidemic of psychiatric overprescribing, the lack of research on withdrawal and pharmaceutical marketing and lobbying

Episode 2 Claire talks about antidepressant withdrawal, tapering and SSRI discontinuation syndrome

Episode 3 Giovanna talks about her SSRI antidepressant treatment over 23 years and her attempts to withdraw

Episode 4 Professor Peter Gøtzsche on why prescription drugs are now the third leading cause of death and the pharmaceutical manufacturers dominance of mental healthcare

Episode 5 Daryl on being prescribed antidepressant drugs at 9 years old and his experiences with OCD, Tourettes syndrome and PSSD

Episode 6 Doctor Terry Lynch on the myth of the brain chemical imbalance and why Psychiatry has pursued a purely medical approach to distress with terrible consequences

Episode 7 Doctor David Healy on prescribing practice, medicine safety and pharmaceutical regulation

Episode 8 Dede Moore on how the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) help her with antidepressant withdrawal

Episode 9 Christopher Jump talks about his transformational journey from psychiatric hospital to woking in peer support and wellness

Episode 10 Kevin P Miller talks about his documentary films Generation Rx (2009) and Letters From Generation Rx (2015) which tell the powerful stories of families harmed by their psychiatric medications

Episode 11 Nora talks about her extreme adverse reaction to an antidepressant which started almost immediately and left her with physical, emotional and psychological problems

Episode 12 Doctor Lucy Johnstone on how the underlying causes of emotional distress are often unexplored, and why that might be

Episode 13 Susie talks about stopping her antidepressant cold turkey after 2 years and how her doctors failed to recognise antidepressant withdrawal

Episode 14 Tina talks about her experience with depression, her use of antidepressant drugs and how a change in her medication led to her withdrawal problems

Episode 15 Robert Whitaker talks about the astonishing rise in mental ill health despite the availability of psychiatric drugs

Episode 16 Megan talks about how she came into contact with psychiatric medications and how she approached her antidepressant withdrawal after two failed attempts

Episode 17 Doctor Joanna Moncrieff on psychiatric drug mechanisms of action, antidepressant/antipsychotic withdrawal and the RADAR study

Episode 18 Simone talks about her experiences of postnatal depression, fibromyalgia and her treatment with antidepressants

Episode 19 Marion Brown talks about psychiatric drugs, Human Givens therapy and medically unexplained symptoms (MUS)

Episode 20 Gemma talks about her experiences with antidepressants and benzodiazepines and the difficulties that parents of children with special needs encounter when they seek treatment for emotional or psychological distress

Episode 21 Doctor Gary Sidley talks about his years of experience within NHS mental health services and alternatives to bio-medical psychiatry as ways of responding to human suffering

Episode 22 Meghann describes her experiences of being prescribed antidepressant drugs for OCD at the age of 9 and how she approached stopping them some 17 years later

Episode 23 David talks about his sanguine view of antidepressant drugs and his own experiences of the mental healthcare system

Episode 24 Doctor Peter Groot from Maastricht University talks about his own experiences of antidepressant drugs and his novel, practical solution for those who want to withdraw safely: Tapering Strips

Episode 25 Sinead describes her 16 years of treatment with antidepressants, her attempts to withdraw and how she feels about starting medications for her emotional distress

Episode 26 Judy Meyer talks about her experiences of the psychiatric system and how she became a holistic mental health practitioner and mental health advocate

Episode 27 Elaine talks about her experiences with antidepressant and stimulant drugs, her withdrawal and how she felt judged rather than helped by psychiatry

Episode 28 Chaya Grossberg talks about her experiences of the psychiatric system and her naturopathic approach to mental health and wellbeing

Episode 29 Stevie talks about her experiences taking the SSRI antidepressant Seroxat and her severe and protracted withdrawal from the drug

Episode 30 Holly Higgins talks about her own experiences with psychiatric drugs and withdrawal and how she became a nutritional therapy practitioner and healed her depression and anxiety with real food

Relevant Mad in America episodes

Mo Hannah: Changing the Teaching of the Biological Model

World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day: Raising Global Understanding

Will Hall: A Harm Reduction Approach to Mental Health and Wellbeing

Irving Kirsch: The Placebo Effect and What It Tells Us About Antidepressant Efficacy

Olga Runciman: Moving Beyond Psychiatry

Dr. David Healy: Seeking a Cure for Protracted, Medication-Related Sexual Dysfunction

Dr. Jennifer Bahr: Treating the Whole Person

Johann Hari: Lost Connections

Dr. Joanna Moncrieff: Challenging the New Hype About Antidepressants

Laura Delano: Connecting People Through the Inner Compass Initiative and Withdrawal Project

Peter Breggin, MD: The Conscience of Psychiatry (part 1)

Peter Breggin, MD: The Conscience of Psychiatry (part 2)

L’s Story

I would like to share my story, in order to highlight the harm that I believe is caused by SSRI and SNRI antidepressants.

In 2008 I suffered the horrendous experience of a depressive psychosis. It was diagnosed by psychiatry as “postnatal psychosis”. I now have a strong suspicion that my psychosis was caused by an SSRI and an SNRI.

My first daughter was born in April 2008. I took citalopram at a steady dose for about 2 years prior to the birth and throughout my pregnancy. In the days after she was born, I read that sertraline was the safest SSRI to take while breastfeeding. I asked the GP about it and she changed me from citalopram to sertraline. In the following weeks I became very depressed. I was changed back to citalopram and the dose was increased. In the weeks following this I became suicidally depressed and developed a florid depressive psychosis. I made several suicide attempts and was sectioned. I continued on citalopram and olanzapine was added. I did not respond quickly to the meds so was given ECT. I had a fairly rapid improvement following ECT and was allowed home. However, after a few months my depressive psychosis returned. I was changed to venlafaxine and quetiapine and after 3 months the depressive psychosis lifted and I remained well until two years after the birth of my second daughter in 2012. I was advised to take quetiapine for some months after this birth. I remained well for 2 years, however, when no longer on quetiapine, I had another episode of depressive psychosis. I remained on venlafaxine but this time quetiapine was not effective. My antipsychotic was changed to amisulpride and after 3 months I recovered. I have remained on a low dose of amisulpride and have not experienced psychosis since then. I now wonder about the possibility that I have a sensitivity to SSRIs/SNRIs and that my episodes of psychosis were actually caused by citalopram/venlafaxine and that the psychosis was only subdued by the addition of an antipsychotic.

I was told on a number of occasions by the psychiatry team that my illness was “atypical”. I do not remember any of the psychiatry team ever mentioning the possibility that my depressive psychosis may have been caused by the SSRI or SNRI – it was always attributed to an underlying illness – “postnatal psychosis” or “psychotic depression”. This has led me to wonder how many other cases of worsened depression and psychosis may be influenced by these drugs, which is why I want to highlight the issue. If psychiatry is not considering this possibility, this potential cause will not be being reported and it could be going unnoticed, meaning it is possible that, like me, some people are advised to continue on the drugs that precipitated their illness in the first place, with further drugs being added to counteract the negative effects of the SSRI/SNRI.

I would also like to highlight the problems I have had attempting to withdraw from venlafaxine. In discussion with my psychiatrist, I decided to come off venlafaxine in 2015, having been well for over 2 years. My psychiatrist recommended a taper which I now believe was way too fast – over several weeks. The withdrawal during those weeks was a truly awful experience. For the whole period of withdrawal and several weeks afterwards, I felt like I had a severe bout of the flu and a terrible hangover. I had electric shock sensations in my head. It felt as if my brain was being constantly irritated by a chemical. I felt agitated and intensely irritable. I felt an intense burning sensation in my head, spine and oesophagus. My body ached all over. I had abdominal pain. I lost my senses of taste and smell. Then approximately 3 months after stopping venlafaxine, I became depressed. I completely lost my appetite and felt a physical sensation of my body and mind being an empty shell, unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was admitted to a psychiatric unit. My bowel stopped working. I was put back on venlafaxine and after approximately 4 months I fairly suddenly started to feel better again. The physical symptoms disappeared. The psychiatry team were convinced the whole episode was caused by my underlying illness – “psychotic depression”, because my depression could not be controlled without venlafaxine. However, I strongly suspect that what I experienced was a very bad case of withdrawal from venlafaxine.

Recently I decided I would like to try to withdraw from venlafaxine again, but this time much, much more slowly. I found a Facebook group dedicated to venlafaxine withdrawal. It has approximately 3800 members. Time and time again people report that they were not warned about the difficulties that many people have withdrawing from venlafaxine – indeed most medical professionals seem completely unaware of the problem that so many of us experience. The recommended taper advised in the group is a maximum of 10% of the dose at a time, with a hold of at least 30 days or until all withdrawal symptoms have resolved, before tapering again. For many of us, particularly those of us who have been taking it for a number of years, it would seem that to have the best chance of getting off venlafaxine and staying well we must reduce the dose very gradually over years. There are members of the group who, like me, came off much more quickly on the advice of their psychiatrist/GP, did not reinstate the drug quickly enough and who have suffered a protracted withdrawal over years, with a whole host of symptoms. I can’t help but feel that if there could be a much greater understanding of antidepressant withdrawal amongst medical professionals, including revised guidelines for withdrawal in the community, then more of us would receive the support we need to come off venlafaxine and other psychiatric drugs, rather than suffering intense withdrawal symptoms and being told that they are nothing to do with withdrawal but are the return of our original illness.

I find it very interesting in relation to my suspicion that I experienced SSRI induced psychosis that, since reducing my venlafaxine dose from 150mg to 100mg, my thoughts seem less distorted and obsessive, I have less anxiety and my thinking is much clearer.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.

L… G….