AHRP – For two decades, medical professionals, the public, and public health policy officials who determine the allocation of public funds for healthcare, have been misled about the safety and benefits of psychiatric drugs – in particular the newer, expensive drugs – the so-called SSRI antidepressants, and the new neuroleptics, marketed as “atypical antipsychotics.”by Vera Hassner Sharav AHRP
Pharmaceutical industry marketing hype deceptively packaged as “scientific study findings,” gained the appearance of legitimacy when they were accepted by the FDA for licensure, and accepted for publication in medical journals. Those reported “findings” were fraudulent, concocted and aggressively disseminated by manufacturers of these drugs.
The deception has seriously undermined the integrity of the scientific literature and misled physicians who unwittingly prescribed hazardous drugs causing patients irreparable harm.
Thanks to years of litigation during which company documents have been uncovered, the truth has been revealed. We now know that SSRI antidepressants and the “atypical’ antipsychotics have failed to demonstrate therapeutic benefits in clinical trials and in clinical practice. Instead, these drugs have triggered debilitating chronic illnesses and even life-threatening risks. Antidepressants increase the risk of suicide and trigger “serotonin syndrome,” which is potentially fatal adverse drug reaction. Antipsychotics undermine normal metabolic, cardiovascular, hormonal function, resulting in cardiac arrest, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
In a study that examined the relationship between genetic variants in the CYP450 family, the interaction of antidepressant-induced akathisia, and violence – including homicide in 129 forensic patients who had referred to Dr. Lucire by lawyers, psychopharmacology experts now report a significant association among genetic variants, metabolism of psychiatric drugs, and severe, homicidal akathisia.
Of 138 persons tested for CYP450 genes, 129 had experienced adverse events, “mainly akathisia, due to psychiatric drugs. Nine were first degree relatives of those treated who also had a history of adversity on other drugs.”
Of the 129 persons who experienced drug-induced adverse effects, 8 had committed homicide, 3 had committed suicide, and one had sleepwalked to her death.
The authors report that:
“In all of the cases presented here, the subjects were prescribed antidepressants that failed to mitigate distress emerging from their predicaments, which encompassed psychosocial stressors such as bereavement, marital and relationship difficulties, and work-related stress. Every subject’s emotional reaction worsened while their prescribing physicians continued the “trial and error” approach, increasing from standard to higher dose and/or switching to other antidepressants, with disastrous consequences. In some cases the violence ensued from changes occasioned by withdrawal and polypharmacy.”
In all of these cases, the subjects were put into a state of drug induced toxicity manifesting as akathisia, which resolved only upon discontinuation of the antidepressant drugs.”
“This paper has detailed and substantiated in specific terms how the metabolism of each of the antidepressant drugs used by the subjects would have been seriously impaired both before and at the time they committed or attempted homicide. They were experiencing severe reported side effects, adverse drug reactions due to impaired metabolism complicated by drug–drug interactions against a background of variant CYP450 alleles.”
The authors further state:
“The results presented here concerning a sample of persons given antidepressants for psychosocial distress demonstrate the extent to which the psychopharmacology industry has expanded its influence beyond its ability to cure. The roles of both regulatory agencies and drug safety “pharmacovigilantes” in ensuring quality and transparency of industry information is highlighted.”
Two other recently published studies, one in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the other in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also challenge the validity of psychiatry’s prescribing practices whose rationale is mostly commercially propagated.
Antidepressants and Older Populations
The authors of the BMJ report, “Antidepressant Use and Risk of Adverse Outcomes in Older People: Population Based Cohort Study,” analyzed data for 60,746 persons in the UK who were over 65 and diagnosed with depression between 1996 and 2007. The authors followed the subjects until December, 2008.
The authors found that patients who are prescribed SSRI antidepressants are at increased risk of death and heart attack, stroke, falls and seizures than those who were prescribed the older, cheaper, tricyclic antidepressants.
During those 10 years, patients not taking any antidepressants had a 7% risk of dying from any cause. But the risk rose to 8.1% for those taking the older antidepressants and increased to 10.6% for patients prescribed SSRIs.
“All classes of antidepressant drug were associated with significantly increased risks of all cause mortality, attempted suicide/self harm, falls, fractures, and upper gastrointestinal bleeding compared with when these drugs were not being used. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and the group of other antidepressant drugs were associated with increased risks of stroke/transient ischaemic attack and epilepsy/seizures; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors were also associated with increased risks of myocardial infarction and hyponatraemia.”
PTSD & Combat Vets
According to government data, 10% to 20% of soldiers who see heavy combat develop lasting symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and about a fifth of those who are treated are prescribed an antipsychotic drug. The JAMA report, by prominent psychiatrists on the faculty of Yale University, examines the treatment outcome for veterans suffering from PTSD whose treatment with SSRI antidepressants failed and who were then prescribed antipsychotics.
The finding: after six months of treatment, the veterans who were prescribed Risperdal were doing no better than a similar group of 124 veterans, who were given a placebo. About 5% in both groups recovered, and 10% to 20% reported at least some improvement, based on standardized measures.
“We didn’t find any suggestion that the drug treatment was having an overall benefit on their lives,” said Dr. John H. Krystal, the director of the clinical neurosciences division of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for PTSD and the lead author of the study.
The New York Times reports: “The surprising finding, from the largest study of its kind in veterans, challenges current treatment standards so directly that it could alter practice soon, some experts said.”
In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Charles Hoge, a senior scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, who was not involved in the study, stated: “I think it’s a very important study given how frequently the drugs have been prescribed. It definitely calls into question the use of antipsychotics in general for PTSD.”
Although the study focused on one antipsychotic, Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal, experts agree that the results most likely extend to the entire class, including the drugs, Seroquel, Geodon and Abilify.
These three reports are the latest in a string of scientific reports, untainted by industry influence, that examined the evidence and found that current psychiatric drug prescribing practices are of little, if any, therapeutic value. But since the drugs pose serious risks of harm by triggering drug-induced (iatrogenic) illness–which significantly increases healthcare costs–why does the U.S. government waste billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize their cost?