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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

SEROXAT - PANORAMA unscientific jumping on bandwagon & putting patients at risk - Dr Rita Pal


Rita Pal, Editor NHS Exposed

Last year, I worked in the north. Panorama had just shown their supposedly well researched material on Paroxetine. Firstly, I think there seems to be an absence of clinical opinions on Paroxetine. I am therefore going to take this opportunity to present my opinion because I feel that clinical opinions from the person dealing with the side effects of the potent drug known as Panorama should be examined.

Many of my colleagues agree that Paroxetine has helped many people. Indeed, having treated many people with the drug, there has been a significant improvement in their quality of life. Firstly, it should be borne in mind that Paroxetine is used to treat depressed people. This means the probability of suicidal ideation is much higher in this group of patients by the nature of their illness. Suicidal ideation is dependant on multiple factors eg environment, life events, mental state etc. No drug is perfect but this means a number of studies need to be done before the DOH issues guidelines based on a knee jerk reaction governed by Panorama.

After watching Panorama, a large amount of patients deteriorated as they simply "stopped their tablets" because of Panorama. This is an example where the media plays doctor. It is a known fact that abruptly stopping Paroxetine will give a number of withdrawal symptoms. Over that period of two weeks, we must have had about 40 patients suffering from relapses. These are people who had been well for a number of years on this drug.

Personally, having had the unfortunate experience of being in personal contact with Panorama in the past; I found them to be unscientific, jumping on whatever bandwagon they wish, featuring interviews from patients whose histories were not examined ie whether they were non compliant with medication or whether their suicide risk prior and after treatment had been examined. Fear instilled in vulnerable patients by a powerful medium like Panoram who have limited initial information on Paroxetine is dangerous.

The scientific data measuring the number of relapses following the Panorama programme is not publicised. Panorama should also take the responsibility of leaving doctors to pick up the pieces that they have created. They should also realise that they are playing with peoples' lives - which is not worth the terror journalism that was featured.

Currently we see a knee jerk reaction to a media frenzy.People who have recovered stop their medication and relapse badly. If Panorama want to pay for the extra admissions that they have directly caused, then they should provide me with their number. Indeed, perhaps they should sit up at 3am in the morning and take a look at what they have caused.

Journalists are not doctors. Indeed, some journalists feel they can play God with peoples' lives simply for a media frenzy. I say this from personal experience of many journalists including being questioned by Panorama at one point. A certain researcher once asked me to take a camera and film patients breaching their confidentiality. I refused. These people are not concerned with the welfare of patients but simply " a story". They also fail to be accountable for the vast range of problems they cause.

Kind Regards

Dr Rita Pal

PS I would be interested to know whether Panorama would fund the beds we require for each relapsing patient with the first presenting line " Doctor, I stopped Paroxetine because Panorama featured all the bad points about it".

Competing interests: Interviewed by researcher from Panorama on a different subject.

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