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Saturday, 21 January 2012

more about Kabbani's PSSG & Scientology link to Seroxat litigation here - via SSRI Crusaders



distributed by Ramo Kabbani

Some alarming stories about side effects from wonder drug Prozac and related

anti-depressant drugs are now emerging


Drug dependency nearly ended Ramo Kabbani's life. But the drug she battled

was handed out by a qualified GP, is being taken by 40 million other people

and is still lauded as a 'wonder drug.'

On 16 February, she will celebrate her fifth 'clean' year and a full decade

has passed since her descent into an anti-depressant-poisoned hell. Not

that she has yet fully escaped.

"It's taken me a long time to put back on the weight that I lost, my weight

plummeted to five stone," she says.


"I also still have the seizures. I'd say it averages out at about nine in a

day although I have the odd day where I've not had any."

Ramo is chair of the UK Prozac Survivors Support Group (PSSG), founded in

March 198 to advise and help people prescribed antidepressants in the

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) class. This is the class that

has seen some atrocious side effects.

For the majority of people taking Prozac and similar medications, the impact

of these drugs on their lives has been positive. But Ramo's experience

serves as a grim medical parable. Where the use of medicine hinges upon

theories of 'chemical imbalances', and where drug companies are not fully

open about their possible side effects, a minority of patients are at great


"I'm no longer battling with anxiety-depression, that's the ironic thing,"

she says. "I've developed seizures through being prescribed these drugs.

I've no longer got the problem for which these drugs were prescribed but I'm

still battling with the problems that the drugs caused."

In August 1991, Ramo's fiancé died suddenly, one month before their wedding.

"I was never offered any bereavement counselling or any alternativeŠI was

just put on tablets and it was downhill from there."

Some months later, while working at Manchester's Fountain Street Employment

Service, she broke down. A visit to the GP led to the instant prescription

of fluoxetine (Prozac). Initially, she was transfused by an unnatural

'high', a manic sense of exaltation. Six weeks later, Ramo crashed,

becoming actively suicidal and haunted by insomnia, anxiety and dread.

Over the next few years each worsening side effect was met with one

response: another prescribed drug. She made several suicide attempts.

"There was one particular one which to be honest, I can't believe how close

I'd come," she says. "Looking back, I can see that I was in a trance-like

state. What actually brought me back to reality was I had Spot my dog who

was a little puppy at the time and he literally jumped up at me as I stood

in front of the bathroom mirror with a knife against my throat, ready to

slit my throat. My first thought was not 'Oh my God! What am I doing?' It

was 'Oh my God! I can't do this in front of Spot."

Ramo recalls the various cocktails of alcohol and pills she would take in

overdose: Sometimes, I'd be unconscious for about a week. The only way I'd

know I'd been out of it was that I'd go into the newsagent, look at a

newspaper date and I'd go 'Oh my GodŠ'

"I'd even started looking into my own funeral arrangements. And this is

somebody who used to live life to the full. I'd never felt down. I thought

'depression' was a case of the Monday morning bluesŠ"


It was an angry encounter at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Manchester, with a

psychiatrist who was referred to as a neurologist (Ramo had previously

suffered 23 seizures in a day) that compelled her to research her own drug

therapy. Reading up on Prozac and other case studies set her towards

setting up the PSSG and weaning herself off drugs.

For millions of people, Prozac and its sister anti-depressants are very

helpful, releasing them from much psychic pain. But they are now being

handed out across GPs' desks, for everything from post-natal depression to

menopausal problems. Moreover, they are being marketed with a not fully

proven theory of 'chemical imbalance' that is based on the theory that

topping up the brain's supply of a chemical called serotonin will alleviate


Just as happened with the earlier so-called 'minor tranquillisers' of the

1960s, the benzodiazepines, including Atavan, Xanax and Miltown, a backlash

may now be imminent. In its own way, this could prove as unhelpful as the

current vaunting of SSRIs as 'miracle drugs', causing them to acquire an

unnecessarily sinister ring.

"It's going to be a replay of the benzodiazepine story." This is the

prediction of UCD -educated psychiatrist Dr David Healy, now based at the

University of Wales, Bangor. "Part of the problem with this will have been

caused by the pharmaceutical industry. The way they handle these things,

trying to deny there are problems means that when people get disenchanted,

they really do get very disenchanted and it's very hard for someone like me

who thinks that SSRIs can be useful to actually prescribe them. So they

move from a situation where they're being overused, to one where they're

being underusedŠ"


Certainly, the drug companies, previously hailed as the saviours of millions

of depressed people, are now feeling an increasingly chill wind blowing.

The high point so far came in June 2001, when the Glaxo Smith Kline company

had to give $6.4 million to the family of a man who had shot to death his

daughter and grandchildren before turning the gun on himself, while put on

Seroxat (paroxetine) for sleeping problems.

Cases like this, involving aggression or suicide are extremely rare.

However, Seroxat, whose sales match those of Prozac, now looks as though it

could emerge as potentially highly addictive for some people. Last year,

America's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered Glaxo Smith Kline to

warn GPs that for some people, Seroxat packaged as 'Paxil' in the US) could

be as addictive as Valium.

Mark Harvey, a solicitor with the Cardiff firm Hugh James Ford Simey, has

something to say on the subject: "My feeling is GSK knew, and they

certainly know damn well now, their drug had the capacity to cause a lot of

harm to a small number of people. In particular in relation to coming off

it and they're not being honest to either prescribing doctors or patients."

Hugh James Ford Simey has already been contacted by over 120 people,

complaining of problems with Seroxat. They're coming in, says Mark Harvey,

at a rate of nearly three a week. In order to facilitate these people, the

firm is setting up a 'User Group' to form the focus for future litigation

against the drug companies. Many of these people have experienced 'cold

turkey-like symptoms while coming off the drug.

"I've seen an advert in the States. It actually says "Talk to your doctor

about non-habit forming Paxil," says Harvey. "That's outrageous, that's

clearly designed to catch patients and it deals with what they want to know,

which is if it's non-addictiveŠ"

Far from being a zealot against the use of drugs to treat psychological

distress, Dr Healy researched serotonin effects at Addenbrooke's Hospital in

Cambridge, after leaving Ireland.

But as the author of The Antidepressant Era (Harvard Press), he is candid

about the pitfalls of SSRIs, such as Prozac, Seroxat, Lustral and Cipramil.

"The estimates are that one in 20 of us gets so agitated on a SSRI that we

have to stop treatment," he says. "One in 100 of us going on a SSRI will

make a suicide attempt. One in 1,000 might commit suicide. There are other

hazards: probably 30-50% of us going on a SSRI will have problems trying to

withdraw. The withdrawal symptoms will be severe; for some people they may

continue for a year."


"It's hard to know how many. It may be only five percent who really have a

severe problem. But if 40 million have gone on Prozac and 100 million have

gone on a SSRI, five percent is five million people so it is a major


The relentless marketing has apparently repackaged not just the medicines,

but the condition they are used to treat. Depressed people lose serotonin

through 're-uptake' between the brain cells: take an SSRI and you get more

serotonin. But the biology of the brain is barely understood: serotonin

might not be the key to mood and the drugs may not even work by stimulating


Anti-depressants were invented in the mid 1950s and the majority of people

who these days get Prozac or Seroxat would have once been given minor

tranquillisers. Thus when SSRIs were launched, the companies' emphasis was

on 'depression' as a chemical deficiency to avoid association with the minor

tranquillisers, by then known to be addictive.


Limerick-based psychiatrist Dr Terry Lynch, author of the book Beyond

Prozac, is highly critical of the way a theory about depression has become

accepted wisdom. This he believes, reflects the doctors' relationship with

the drug companies.

"Certainly, I think psychiatrists and GPs to a certain degree need to feel

that they're the ones driving the whole thing. They're the ones with the

knowledge and the patient's job is to follow the doctor's advice," he says.

"I also think that the pharmaceutical companies are involved here because

over the past 50-60 years, medicine in general but maybe particularly

psychiatry has become very closely aligned to the pharmaceutical industry.

"Psychiatry has allowed itself to become very dependent on the industry for

funding of its meetings, of its research, of its ongoing education. I'm

guessing, but my sense is that the majority of psychiatric post-graduate

meetings are funded by drug companies and I think that that's unhealthy."

Among those people who have approached Hugh James Ford Simey regarding legal

action is Glenys (not her real name), a grandmother with no previous history

of depression. When she suffered her first panic attack, she was showing

symptoms that may well have been hormonal and associated with the menopause.

She did not meet the traditional diagnostic criteria for depression when

given Seroxat.

Previously, she had been given HRT, then Valium and Prozac; the Valium had

caused withdrawal problems, something that is a recognized risk. But Glenys

was not warned about problems coming off Seroxat. It seems she belongs in

the five percent Dr Healy warned would have severe withdrawal. Now off

Seroxat for 18 months, she has been told she may have to wait up to five

years for the physical and mental effects to clear.

"I have never had headaches really, until I started the menopause," she

says. "All I can say it's like it's crushing my head like an eggshell.

After the head, the face will burn, my body will shake and I'll get pins and

needles in my arms. It's just horrendous and the agitation is terribleŠ"

She plans to contribute to the 'Seroxat Users' Group' soon to be set up. In

the meantime, she waits for her problem to clear.

"I just feel it's taken part of my life away. I want to be normalŠI just

hope it hasn't done any permanent damage".

Contact the Prozac Survivors Group by e-mail at

Alternatively, their helpline number is 0044 161 682 3296

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