Thursday, 20 March 2014

"I believe that taking money from Big Pharma is ethically wrong"

[a statement written for ALLIANCE event 'A Question of Ethics: Members discussion on the ALLIANCE's relationship with the pharmaceutical industry' on 7 February 2014]

  • Psychiatric drugs are used in psychiatric settings to coerce and control psychiatric patients.  The drugs alter brain chemicals and cause debilitating side effects which result in more psych drugs being taken to control the effects.  In my case the anti-psychotics agitated and depressed me.  I was given the anti-depressant venlafaxine which depressed me more, gave me suicidal impulses, I took an overdose.  Then I was given the "mood stabiliser" lithium, a toxic drug that requires monthly blood tests.  None of these drugs worked to lift my mood.  I had to take charge of my own mental health, go against the advice of psychiatrists, to recover and survive. 
  • At least 50% of people are unhappy that they were forced to take psych drugs against their will.  All of my close family members have engaged with psychiatry.  Half of us stayed in the system, the other half went our own way.  Of the half who stayed in the system and on the drugs they all lived with physical disabilities.  My mother walked with a stick from her 40's onwards, she was on a 3wkly depot injection until she died aged 68.  If you go into a mental health day facility you will see many older women walking with sticks.  My youngest sister, now in her 40's walks with a stick, her balance is effected, she is on clozapine.
  • I recently found out from research articles [www.jnrbm.com/content/9/1/3] that venlafaxine causes bone loss.  That explains my bad leg break in 2005, the year after I came off the drug.  Three fractures on the fibula, when only walking down a stair, requiring a 6in metal pin to be inserted, leaving me with arthritis.  Why are psych drugs not researched thoroughly before coming on the market?  It seems that profit rules and safety is a secondary concern.

  • Mental health law allows psychiatric professionals to forcibly treat people with a "mental disorder".  I was a psychiatric inpatient on 3 occasions and on each of them I went voluntarily into a psychiatric hospital whereupon I was forcibly injected with chlorpromazine, in 1978 and 1984, then pressurised to take risperidone in 2002, after being detained for 72hrs.  I voluntarily went into the hospital, looking for respite and support.  Instead I was coerced and controlled, with psychiatric drugs the tools of choice.

  • I therefore do not believe that funding from Big Pharma can ever be free from conflicts of interest.  If one person is being coerced to take a pharma product then we are all, or should be, affected by this human rights issue.  I am not convinced that psychiatric drugs are as thoroughly researched as they should be before being given to, or forced upon, people.


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