Doctors: What do they know?

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November 28, 2016 | 35 Comments


  1. Take That!

    “Trintellix (vortioxetine) is an antidepressant that affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced.”

    Robbie Williams says

    Brintellix may be a killer


    Generic Name: vortioxetine (VOR tye OX e teen)
    Brand Names: Trintellix

    May 2, 2016 – Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. and Lundbeck announced that Brintellix (vortioxetine) will be marketed in the United States under the new name Trintellix (vortioxetine) effective June 2016. The change comes after receiving reports of name confusion in the marketplace between Brintellix and the anti-blood clotting therapy Brilinta (ticagrelor). The formulation, indication, dosage forms and strengths of Trintellix remain the same as Brintellix.

    The Flood

    • Annie, your reference link in Health Impact News on Brintellix is mind blowing. I read it with utter horror. Rob Williams should really read it too. In his own words, as reported, however, he must have tried so many drugs, both prescribed and otherwise, that one isn’t surprised he has suffered a sort of withdrawal into himself at times. One cannot imagine how his poor brain has coped all these years, he must be made of strong stuff, or maybe his music carries him through. Creativity is a wonderful thing.

      Maybe he will be a flagship guinea pig for this new drug. We will all be able to see how he gets on with it. That should be very interesting….

  2. Re: “Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC TV program on antidepressants included input from Dr Sarah Jarvis, a GP who is often used by the BBC.”

    I noted her very dismissive input on this program – and I am astonished that her conflicts weren’t made clear, and that she is often used by the BBC. Searching “Dr Sarah Jarvis disclosure” immediately finds the following from a 2013 Medscape “educational activity – sponsored by Abbott”:

    Disclosure: Dr Sarah Jarvis has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships: Served as a speaker or advisory board member for Astra Zeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer Inc., Sanofi, Servier, Shire, Takeda.

    Why on EARTH do the BBC use her AT ALL? And WHY do they not advise us of these very significant conflicts?

    With dismay
    Rob Purssey, psychiatrist and ACT therapist

  3. Many of us have raised these issues about Dr Sarah Jarvis, some of us, including me, have put in a complaint to the BBC via Victoria Derbyshire, but have had no response. It is indeed encouraging and uplifting to read your comment today, as a psychiatrist.

    The theme of this string is about trusting doctors. I also used to trust the BBC for their balanced reporting. Whenever we have contributed to their investigation programmes, we’ve been very much aware that they look at things from both sides, and that’s good. But we’ve also sensed their fear of getting sued by the powerful, of not wanting to put their necks on the line, and I have an awful sneaky feeling that drug companies’ financial resources inspire fear in any media personnel, just as I sense that Government fear the might of Big Pharma too. So I guess the BBC may have been in blissful ignorance about Dr Sarah Jarvis’ paymasters, ( one wonders who first recommended her to the Corporation – that would be interesting to find out ). But so many of us have indignantly raised the Jarvis issue now, so surely a public apology should be made on their Feedback-style programme, which they screen weekly. We should, as you and so many of us have said, have been informed of her myriad Big Pharma connections. ‘Trust her, she’s a doctor’…..never again I think,

  4. You might well be dismayed, Rob…

    Sarah Jarvis for Dummies..

    The ‘One’ Show..

    Sarah says……………………………….with TVs Dr. Sarah Jarvis

    Cervical smears – are you playing Russian roulette?

    Patient is one of the most trusted medical resources online, supplying evidence based information on a wide range of medical and health topics to patients and health professionals.

    Dr Sarah Jarvis

    Sarah Jarvis is a GP, GP trainer, fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and Women’s Health spokesperson for the RCGP.

    She is also a medical writer and broadcaster and is currently the resident doctor for Radio Two, Good Housekeeping, My Weekly and Pregnancy magazines, as well as spending 10 years as ITN Lunchtime News doctor. She also contributes regularly to GMTV, Sky News, The Wright Stuff on Channel 5, The One Show on BBC 1 and Radio 5 live.

    She has been a regular contributor to a variety of medical magazines and journals including Update, Doctor, Practice Nurse, the British Journal of Cardiology and Cardiology News.

    She has a particular interest in cardiology, is a member of the advisory board of the British Journal of Cardiology and is a previous Chairman of the Health Care Committee of HEART UK – The Cholesterol Charity.

    She has authored Diabetes for Dummies, Pregnancy for Dummies and Child Health for Dummies, as well as ‘The younger woman’s Diagnose-It-Yourself guide to Health’.

    It’s the usual BBC ‘Club’ for Dummies…impartial is not their strong point..

    • OMG Annie. Whatever else is there to say! One wonders when she ever has any time to sit and really listen to a patient. Like Manuel in ‘Faulty Towers’ one is tempted to think ‘she know nothing’ ….

  5. What would a doctor know what goes into a medicine?
    It is like playing a game of Russian Roulette, if you ask me!
    This is why it should be made Law, that all the negative clinical data trials are put out, irrespective of how low the percentage is in people getting harmed in each country.
    1% in one country, another 2% in another country, 3% in another country is irrelevant.
    When one adds up the figures of how many people are being maimed or dying, globally, it all adds up.
    No one should fear the might of Big Pharma because if something morally unethical is going on and they get caught out, they should be the ones living in fear!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Just a small slice of Criticisms of the BeeBeeCee..

    Thalidomide: Britons launch legal case
    5 June 2014
    From the section UK

    The secrets of seroxat

    Panorama also spoke to Dr David Healy, an expert on the drug who has had access to confidential Seroxat studies in the GlaxoSmithKline archives.

    We cannot accuse the BBC of knowing ‘nothing’ about this and so it is even more outrageous that a TV Doctor was summonly invited to take part in the VD Programme with Katinka Newman spelling out what happened to her…and cut across the bows with Sarah Jar vis

    Perhaps the Researchers on the Victoria D programme could have delved a little deeper in to ‘our history’ to enlighten viewers as to the four Panorama Progs which allowed her to discuss matters as if it were just today’s news..

  7. Channel 4 at 9pm on 29th November 2016, ‘Psych Ward’ – I watched this with trepidation, not feeling very brave. I have to say, in contrast to the BBC references Annie has found for the (in) famous Dr Sarah Jarvis, it was very touching and felt real. (Dr Sarah Jarvis says her aim is to put real true facts about medicine in front of the public….on the BBC site Annie found, for the One Show, which tells us about her in more depth. I needed more induced calm to cope with reading that, than watching the Channel 4 film!)

    I just wanted to say that I was profoundly struck by a particular part of the film, and I’m not sure if this string is the right place to fit it into, but I wanted to make the point quickly somewhere. We meet a youngish man who is diagnosed schizophrenic and has been in hospital for a long time, but has sometimes escaped and rushed home to find his mum. She is interviewed. She is obviously torn apart with worry, she loves him dearly but she cannot help him, she says. We see early pictures of him, a delightful little fellow, growing up. ‘What happened to him’ asks the reporter. His mum explains that he was fine, but some years back, went it a party. He was not himself when he came home, for several days. He sat on the floor crying, saying ‘Please help me mum, save me’. She didn’t know what to do, and naturally frightened by his distress, she took him to hospital. They sectioned him. Her next words made me shudder. ‘That was when I lost him’.

    We don’t know all the facts of course, but maybe he was given some illegal mind altering substance at that party. Maybe he was never schizophrenic at all. But we can hazard a guess that once in that hospital, presenting in the state he was, he would have been put onto medication. His mum describes how whenever he breaks out of hospital, she hears him crying out to her ‘please help me mum’ as he runs up and down their street outside. She hides in the kitchen so he can’t look in and see her. She is afraid of him, of what he has become, but she loves him. We see her agony. She doesn’t know what to do. Sometimes he gets angry and violent. One wonders whether, had that party never taken place, he would still be functioning well, with his loving family, as he was before.

    Many of us have felt like that poor lady, whose loved one has been kidnapped into a world of mental confusion because of a chance moment, the taking of a prescribed medication maybe which made them behave oddly, and we being pushed aside, whilst others ‘take them over.’ I admit I wept for that mum last night, I have felt just the same, longing to have my normally thinking youngster back, but knowing his mind was no longer entirely his own any more, and he had been plunged into confusion through no fault of his own. Kidnap is the right word for this. It is appalling. I don’t think Dr Sarah Jarvis is living on the same planet.

    • I do not mean to take away from your grief Heather nor the grief of the mother on the ‘Psych Ward’ programme, but I just want to make it clear that there IS the possibility of turning things around from such situations – and that is, having the necessary support to wean the ‘addict’ (for that is what each one is, through no fault of their own) slowly off the medications which have caused the problems in the first place. I am keeping my fingers tightly crossed that, one day, I will be able to write here that our son’s whole journey of reduction has been successfully completed – for the moment, it’s enough to see glimpses of the real person in-between the suffering of each reduction that he makes.
      Psychiatric wards, too, have their place for the right patients – those who have real deep psychiatric support needs. Yes, medications are handed out, probably far too easily BUT THAT, in my opinion, has far more to do with the wrong patients admitted to the units in the first place than it has to do with faulty work etc. of the units. Psychotropic medications should be used for the really needy cases and kept well away from individuals suffering simply because of the prescriptions they were given in Primary Care. This, to my mind, illustrates the very real need for ‘safe houses’ or ‘respite centres’ for mental health purposes in all areas – places where the needs of the ‘prescribed ill’ could be seen for what it is and treated accordingly, leaving the Units for the work that they were designed to do in the first place.

      • I think we are basically on the same tack here Mary. I’m assuming that the young man in the Channel 4 programme had maybe taken Ecstasy or marijuana or even had his drink spiked, but it so badly messed with his brain that he was taken to hospital because of his later ongoing distress when home again. His mother said he’d never behaved like this before. I’m only saying that possibly he was put onto anti-psychotics at once, to soothe his agitation, and that possibly they created further reactions, which could have ended up with him going round in what my husband and I call ‘The Perfect Circle’, which is also what Katinka found herself in, and only by chance did she manage to break out of it and become herself again. Obviously for her, it was prescribed drugs, but for others it could start with so-called legal highs, anything that alters temporarily the normal thinking of the mind and renders the person feeling terrified because they feel weird.
        By mentioning this programme, I actually meant I could indentify with anyone who is torn between their natural protective feelings for a loved one, and the need to get what they hope and assume will be enlightened help for them. I’m sure there are good psychiatric in-patient units everywhere, but they are only as good as the staff that run them, and in particular, the enlightened (or otherwise) attitudes of the Lead Psychiatrists who diagnose and prescribe, and hopefully, listen to family for their input on history), and monitor drug reactions. I’m sorry to say that it has been my experience, and those of colleagues, to come across some pretty horrendous examples, and the people who are ill and incarcerated are the least able to voice their concerns and be taken seriously, especially if drugged up to the eyeballs. All I was trying to say was I do hope that a young man like that would have his past carefully taken into the equation, before being put permanently onto anti-psychotics and diagnosed schizophrenic after one initial episode, as was indicated by his mother. All possible causes for his SUDDEN weird symptoms should have been carefully evaluated. He was probably, as you say Mary, the wrong person to be in that ward.

        Sometimes a patient suffering intermittent attacks of psychosis (like my father, diagnosed manic depressive in 1940 after major heart surgery) have such an appalling experience in such hospitals that they beg their spouses never to let them be ‘put away’ again. My mother spent the rest of her short and extremely stressful life looking after him when his cyclic episodes of mania and depression occurred, realising that stress triggered them, and we lived on eggshells to keep him steady. Kindness and respectful compassion adopted as statutory in such places would take away patients’ fear, and probably deliver much more successful outcomes.

        • With you all the way Heather! I just didn’t want anyone who read the comments here to think that the described situation was a ‘hopeless case’. From our experience, a ‘hopeless’ situation is exactly what it will remain unless someone manages to get the young man away from the grip of the psychiatric unit. He will be prescribed an ever-increasing dose of a variety of antipsychotic drugs and will also be given a number of different diagnoses – none of which will, possibly, get him any further than another stay as an in-patient a few months later.
          The chances of the unit psych. listening to family, in our experience, are nil. They have their ways of dealing with their usual patient scenario – they will not, or cannot, stop to consider the possibility of the answer to the situation being within what the family has to say.
          I would have thought that, by now, every unit in the UK would have come across a number of these ‘ adverse reaction’ cases – cases, which they openly admit are ‘baffling’ and ‘certainly not run of the mill’, yet they refuse to accept anything that goes against their ‘ firm belief’ in their own brand of psychiatry. We found that the unit had some staff who were extremely caring and did their utmost to stabilise and support – and actually wanted as much information as possible from the family – but without the ‘top layer’ being willing to listen, their care was often short-lived or even dismissed.
          I can only say, again, that we shall be eternally grateful for the support which is now being given – provided, not by our local MH ‘top layer’ but a neighbouring one.

  8. It’s a “commonly-held opinion” folks.

    Dear Mr Fiddaman

    Reference CAS-4057978-8GVCD3

    Thanks for contacting us regarding BBC Two’s ‘Victoria Derbyshire’ on 19 October.
    The issue of side-effects of anti-depressants is a controversial one, and one which features a number of opposing views. During the live discussion we featured three people who had experienced problems with anti-depressants so it was, of course, important and fair to hear from someone defending them also.

    Linda Gask was put forward by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Dr Sarah Jarvis is a GP. Dr Jarvis said she did believe some people would suffer side-effects and problems with withdrawal, but she also made the point the tablets do save lives. That is a commonly-held opinion and one we had to reflect – indeed it’s an opinion which is honestly held by a qualified doctor and one which we needed to include in our report lest we be accused of being irresponsible.

    In Dr Jarvis’ opinion, the drugs have saved patients’ lives by stopping them taking their own lives or by stopping them hurt themselves.

    We also had a psychiatrist on who has taken the drugs for many years herself, who also argued they’d saved her life. Even our more sceptical psychiatrist, Professor David Healy, also conceded he does prescribe them and they can help some people.

    The figures we used came from a Department of Health report.

    We were raising the matter to highlight a concern that perhaps more people suffer than people are lead to believe from the leaflets. We quoted the leaflets which sometimes say “1 in 100” could suffer a list of symptoms; our script specifically said that some experts believe the number is greater than that.

    So the context here was that we were simply raising the questions, not coming to a definite conclusion.

    The programme had a huge response from people on both sides of the argument, so we believe it was a valid item.

    Thank you again for your feedback. We’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC ensuring that complaints are seen quickly by the right people.

    Kind regards
    Stuart Webb
    BBC Complaints Team

    • Well, Bob, at least you got a response out of them – more than can be said for many of us!. When the BBC Panorama programme on Seroxat aired, they soon made another programme due to the huge number of responses received didn’t they? Might be an idea for the Victoria Derbyshire programme to follow suit – so that we could get a better idea of how balanced the responses were! I wouldn’t mind betting that there were far more responses about adverse reactions rather than praising the medications.

  9. A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.
    ~ Lao Tzu

    We are all on a journey.
    We are all going on a pilgrimage to helping our brothers to healthier choices.
    Self-discovery, is part of the process.
    In the future, I believe, obstacles, will become a thing of the past.
    This is the greatest legacy we can impart, for future generations to come.
    Knowledge is power.
    Confronting those who are ignorant, is the greatest challenge to overcome. CB

  10. With ref to Bob Fiddaman’s response letter from the BBC:-
    1. No comment on Dr Sarah Jarvis’ major Big Pharma connexion a.
    2. Linda Gask was ALSO the ‘we also had a’ psychiatrist who had taken medications etc. The way Stuart Webb phrases his letter, it looks as though there were 3 psychiatrists interviewed, not 2. Why did the Royal College of Psychiatrists put her forward? Maybe to publicise her recent book? They must have known she had strong pro-anti depressant views, from all her Blogs and her book.
    3. Interesting his judgmental use of the word ‘skeptical’ to describe DH.
    4. If the programme was only ‘raising questions’ then why use a serotonin graphic to show us how ‘it is commonly assumed that a chemical imbalance causes depression and anti-depressants correct that imbalance’. From whence came that twinkling graphic, one would like to know. Also perhaps the Royal College of Psychiatrists?

    Yes, well done Bob for getting a response. I guess the rest of us live in hope 🙂

    • It is not the differing opinions that we object to is it – it’s the BIAS. We all know that both sides of an argument/ discussion/ article need to be heard – that is the fairest way of introducing the situation to a listening public, but the way that the BBC went with this programme was to lean rather heavily in one direction!
      What has become of the Panorama programme re:- aggression and antidepressants etc., the one for which Katinka was preparing interviews? Has it been put on a back burner for some reason I wonder?

  11. MHRA delivers Prozac with the Prose Act…

    as do

    “Try not to be put off if you get some side-effects. Many of them wear off in a few days.”

    How do they work?

    We don’t know for certain, but we think that antidepressants work by increasing the activity of certain chemicals work in our brains called neurotransmitters. They pass signals from one brain cell to another. The chemicals most involved in depression are thought to be Serotonin and Noradrenaline.

    All singing from the same hymn sheet…

  12. If some medicines are beneficial for some, it does not necessarily mean that it may benefit others.
    Some Professionals have a vested interested with pharmaceutical companies, medical devices and certain procedures.
    It is in their best interest to only state the positives.
    There are pros and cons with medicines, any type of surgeries, medical devices, procedures and tests.
    Not everything that specialists say is necessarily correct.
    I have seen it happen over and over again ~ which is so morally and ethically wrong!
    If one professional is of one opinion, others will follow suit.
    I have yet to see professionals who make moral assessments without ‘going with the flock’.
    The buck has to end somewhere and sometimes we have to draw a line in the sand and use our gut instincts.
    Clinicians have to do what is morally right!
    There are always RXISKS involved with anything to do with our health and if we don’t have all the information, we are leaving things to chance.
    Clinicians need to be very careful with their biased views.
    This feeling of, ‘superiority , I am a doctor and I know what is best’, is just a cop out for not learning from people’s unfortunate experiences.
    I believe, Clinicians need to be humble and show some humility, when they are in the presence of those who have suffered in the name of science.

  13. Exactly. The bias, the assumption that an actual GP has been brought in so her word must be law. Particularly Ms Jarvis with her extramural extra-GP connexions. I always had faith in the integrity of the BBC before this. Now it seems it’s just an old boys/ old girls ‘who you know in the media’ club. What chance do the public have of learning the truth and protecting themselves if there is this underlying bias? Yes, they went through the motions of being even handed, but there was an undercurrent, a subliminal message, and that little graphic epitomised it. Sickening. Maybe we need a RxISK radio & TV station….

  14. Dear Heather,
    You are onto something phenomenal.
    Heather’s response:
    ‘Maybe we need a RxISK radio & TV station’….
    We need something that will reach everyone.
    I love witnessing the ‘Flash of Brilliance’ on this website.
    Everyone as a collective team are demonstrating ingenious ways of transformation.
    Brainstorming ideas ~ very positive, indeed!

  15. We must be also very mindful of how these medicines impact army personnel.
    Those who risk their lives for us.
    They are truly the forgotten ones.
    Those poor people who have suffered from PTSD due to what they have seen in times of crisis, have these medicines prescribed to them with no reference to what they are truly dealing with.
    Some poor people end up taking their lives whilst ingesting these medicines.
    If these medicines are so beneficial why are they not preventing suicides????

  16. Funny you should say that, Heather..

    In the past half-century, as the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals promised remedies, the treatment of ailments and illness may have supplanted a humanistic perspective of health.  In his book, “Pharmageddon,” Professor of psychiatry David Healy explores the paradox of how improved techniques, tools, and medicines can ultimately eliminate the “care” in health care.    

  17. Interesting article, which only reinforces what medicines do when we the professional we trust, are impacted by these medicines. The surgeon in question is going to be de-registered.
    What do the RXISK community think about this?

    Then there is another article that has the same twist however, woman is not charged because of mental incompetence.

    I would question the article about the Italian woman who killed her husband.
    Was she taking any medications PRIOR to her psychosis or hallucinations?
    One has to delve deep to find the truth about this woman’s medical history?
    We can not judge until all concerned have the full facts.

    What is the difference between the surgeons story and the Italian woman who killed her husband?

  18. Here we go again.
    Is this another sad story of prescribed medications?
    I wonder if we will ever found out?
    The man will be labelled a monster however, I wonder if he is the only one to blame?

    – Big pharma?
    – FDA/TGA/MHRA/Other regulatory bodies?
    – Doctors/psychologists/psychiatrists?
    – Negative Upbringing?
    – A long history of psychotropic medication mixed with recreational drugs?
    – Rebellion against authority?
    I feel sorry for the poor mother. There is more to this story than meets the eye and we may never find out.

  19. Extending my deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to all the families and friends of the people who’s lives were tragically ended in Victoria.
    I will keep everyone in my thoughts and prayers.

  20. I can’t believe that this poor doctor was set up.
    Whoever, was putting in complaints about him, have a lot to answer for.
    He seems like a decent, honest and caring doctor.
    I believe a lot of doctors bullied him because he was very good at what he does.
    Whatever, the reason, I hope they are all made accountable.
    This is what these organizations do with so many good people.

    Many patients were left in the lurch when he returned to France however, he has helped so many patients out of good will. ~This is a testimony of who he is! A man, with integrity, who is willing to genuinely care for his patients.
    I wonder who was putting these false complaints about him?
    The complaints process seems very dodgy to me!
    He should have his name cleared, considering all the HELL they put him and his family, through.
    Very sad case of bureaucratic fowl play!
    I question the motives of these organizations who investigate!

  21. On the other end of the spectrum, one better be prepared to go through hell when you put in complaint about a professional.
    If you have no key witnesses, or the key witness does not know any better, these organizations will put you and your loved ones, through ****** hell!
    Prepare yourself, with enough evidence to back up your claim.
    Yes, some doctors do know what they are doing!

  22. “What about innocent people who get seriously maimed or die as a result of random flawed batches?”
    This has to be part of a political debate so that accountability and transparency are part of the ‘modus operandi’.
    Just like you get lemons in any manufacturing process, the same applies with medicines. People need answers, so that important issues like this don’t get continuously swept under the carpet.
    Voices need to be heard so that other innocent people don’t get maimed or die because of flawed processes.
    There should be an enquiry into serious matters like this!
    Do we have to wait another 50 years or so????
    Families need to be protected when whistle blowers speak up. You make our life a living hell when we speak up!
    Why did they make an MP member apologise? Where there is smoke there is fire!!! ~Robust (What a joke!)
    Organizations, need to do their job properly and need to be held accountable for all the unnecessary maiming and deaths.

    We need leaders with integrity and people who run the show to MAN UP!

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