The title of this echoes We Were Warriors but also Once Were Warriors. The post dovetails with What’s a Life Worth, Morgan vs Morgan, and next weeks Escaping the Prescription Drug Maze. All will be on the Politics of Care Forum.
The post copies a letter sent to J Mercer MP last week, with images added not in the original letter. Mr Mercer has not responded to the gauntlet thrown down below. From a holiday caravan in Scotland he is dealing with the Afghan crisis to which in his opinion the British political class are responding with ambivalence touching on boredom.
There was a mass shooting in Plymouth last week after this letter was sent. Tens of thousands of people harmed by psychotropic drugs when they hear of episodes like this wonder which medicine was involved. Western politicians respond with ambivalence touching on boredom to these shootings when there is more they could do to reduce their frequency than they can do vis-à-vis Afghanistan.
Johnny Mercer MP
House of Commons
August 9th 2021
Dear Mr Mercer
I have just posted an account online by one of your constituents of her efforts to get help from you – What is a life worth. Live links to this post, along with links to two posts about what politicians could do for people in your constituent’s situation, and for health issues more generally, are in the email to which this letter is attached, and listed below.
This letter will be posted next week, as a follow-up to What is a Life Worth. A print version will be delivered to your Plymouth office in the meantime.
I’ve featured as an expert witness in legal cases involving suicide, homicide, withdrawal, and birth defects in people taking SSRI drugs. Cases that pharmaceutical companies have lost in open Court – not just actions that were resolved without any admission of liability. These cases and subsequent actions have probably cost one company somewhere over $4 billion.
The cases also produced evidence that most of the medical literature in the best journals concerning on patent drugs is ghost written and there is no access to the clinical trial data from studies on SSRIs or any other drugs. I’ve published articles specifically on this ghostwriting and lack of access to trial data in the BMJ and the British Journal of Psychiatry and University Press books detailing just how we have arrived this extraordinary point. I’ve presented the issues in forums with regulators, politicians and others present – and in one major meeting which the then Chair of NICE conspicuously avoided.
I’ve written to the Chair and CEO of NICE, the four Depts of Health in the UK, the BMA, regulators like MHRA and EMA, the editors of our major journals, and someone who was present at one of my first presentations of these issues in 2002 – Brenda Hale. Most of the people I’ve written to, a little over a year ago, have now moved on. The Crack of Doom link below will take you to some of the original material. You are welcome to forward this letter to all who have taken up these various posts since.
No-one has even hinted this is conspiracy theory material. The response has been to reach for the lifebelt I throw them – that it is not their job to police the medical literature.
This points to a mistake ex-President Donald Trump made – the greatest concentration of Fake literature on earth never centred on him, it centres on the drugs your doctor gives or might give you or any member of your family and there is nothing your doctor can do to avoid this.
The same dynamic means that Joe Biden is either naïve or hypocritical when he selectively blames Facebook or other social media platforms for misinformation in the health domain.
In respect of your constituent, she has been ill-served by doctors in the Plymouth area. She would have been equally ill-served pretty well anywhere in the UK. Your response has compounded the harms done.
It was known before SSRIs came on the market (1990) that they caused dependence. Within 3 years of paroxetine being on the UK market (1994) there more reports to MHRA of dependence on it that there were reports from all benzodiazepines combined in the previous 20 years. The dependence benzodiazepines cause was viewed around 1990 as one of the greatest menaces we had faced in peacetime – rather like Covid now. Paroxetine causes even worse dependence problems.
The venlafaxine your constituent was on is not far behind paroxetine in causing a damaging dependence that can lead to suicide and homicide. These drugs are a particular problem when given to women to manage menopausal symptoms – women who have no mental problems – who find themselves unable to stop treatment ever. Professional women. It might be just as well for doctors that women are more often affected than men who have been in the Army.
You are not correct that NICE now warns about these problems. They hint at an issue and only began doing so 2 years ago, nearly 30 years late. NICE give the impression this problem can be managed with proper tapering. It can’t. On the basis of ghostwritten articles, NICE have recently recommended extending the use of these drugs to people who have chronic pain conditions.
There is almost no doctor in the UK who is managing these problems well. It’s not possible to do so, as we don’t know what is going on and as a result don’t know how to remedy the harms done. Companies have done no research on these issues, likely for the same reasons as tobacco companies did not research lung cancer. And funding bodies, government and others, are too scared to step in.
Courage is called for. It appears from the post you figured discretion was the better part of valour when you began asking questions.
The upshot for your constituent has been grim. Patients, perhaps women in particular, meet with frank hostility and damaging medical responses, as outlined in the post.
This is not just a matter of a few women who can be brushed to one side. Something like 10 million people in the UK are on the drugs of whom over 80%, according to modelling published in 2005, done before you got to Afghanistan, are likely taking them because they can’t stop. Some will think their lives are being saved by these drugs because they feel such relief if they take a tablet having missed a few doses.
The drugs inhibit our ability to make love and as a result there are areas of the UK where over 20% of people are not making love the way they would like to. The BMJ ran a piece on this problem 2 years ago, mistakenly blaming depression rather than antidepressants for the declining interest British people have in making love (as BMJ put it), when the people being treated with these drugs have mild conditions that, untreated or treated with benzodiazepines, most of us handle by turning to things like love-making – See Antidepressants and Sex.
This factor, along with increased miscarriage rates on antidepressants, and increased birth defects and behavioural problems in offspring, caused by these drugs cannot but contribute to the fall below replacement rates in the UK population we now have. This primarily affects your white constituents.
There are now 45 clinical trials of antidepressants in minors – all 45 are negative. This is the greatest concentration of negative trials in any area of medicine ever. But antidepressants now appear to be the second most commonly taken medicines by teenage girls and their use is growing rapidly, partly because those on them will find it hard to get off (Children of the Cure).
At the other end of the spectrum, there are now three studies showing that the number of medicines people are on is second only to age as a predictor of mortality in patients who get Covid, with no studies showing anything else. No-one apparently wants to hear about this. (Dennis the Menace gets Covid).
There is a wall of silence around this group of drugs and the ghostwriting and hidden data that goes with them. Politicians who have lost family members to them somehow get deterred from turning over any stones – you may now know something about what gets said. The CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, who lose wives to suicide on them, stay mum. Brenda Hale, having faced down Boris Johnson, steps back from an issue you’d have thought was of critical importance to the justice system.
It’s going to take a Warrior to do something about this – perhaps not for women like your constituent, perhaps just for the thrill of jousting. I understand you met Tony Blair in Afghanistan. In Ivanhoe, Tony Blair’s favourite book apparently, Isaac told Ivanhoe he could supply all the weaponry and armour any Warrior might need for the upcoming joust in Ashby.
I can do the same for you, if you want to take on a challenge. It would be good to add to the post that you have taken up the gauntlet.
David Healy MD FRCPsych
On RxISK.org: What’s a Life Worth
On davidhealy.org: Can Politicians Save Us
Can Politicians Save the World
“There is no point standing at the bottom of a mountain and thinking, ‘Wow that is a big mountain’. You have to think, ‘How are we going to get up there?'” he insists.
Soldier turned MP Johnny Mercer: It’s time to talk about mental health
HIS MAIDEN speech to the House of Commons silenced the normally rowdy chamber with the power and clarity of its message about the importance of mental health provision.
By JANE WARREN
PUBLISHED: 07:37, Tue, May 8, 2018 | UPDATED: 08:07, Tue, May 8, 2018
from his first-hand experience.
But at that time, he says, there was little public talk about mental health and he had never heard of obsessive compulsive disorder. “I just thought I was mad,” admits the MP for Plymouth Moor View. Tending to his obsessions, in particular praying many times a day, left him exhausted.
He was prescribed antidepressant fluoxetine at an Army mental health hospital and underwent cognitive behavioural therapy. But the greatest catalyst for recovery came in Afghanistan where he served with 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery.
The Edge of Reason
Johnny Mercer, a Conservative MP and former British Army captain, spoke out in 2015 to advocate an end to its use.
‘I’ve had a letter about once or twice a week,’ he said at the time, ‘from not only constituents but people all over the UK who have suffered or know someone who has suffered, they believe, as a result of taking Lariam.’
‘Courage under Fire’ …
Around the middle of the last decade, perhaps not far from the time that Johnny Mercer was elected as MP for Plymouth Moor View; a Professor of Forensic Psychiatry was interviewed on mainstream UK radio on the subject of ‘Voluntary Chemical Castration for Sex Offenders’.
I believe he wrote the following:
A common side effect of the SSRIs is a negative impact on various aspects of sexual functioning, including loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation. SSRIs can be of benefit in the treatment of sexual disorders (and sexual offenders) through two mechanisms: their effects on sex drive and sexual function, and their ability to lessen the intensity of sexual ruminations, intrusive fantasies, sexual urges and apparently compulsive sexual behaviours.
We afford utmost concern and respect for those who serve, and who endure battle. The words: “There is no such thing as an unwounded soldier” may indeed apply to those who have endured combat. How many of those of his friends who Captain Mercer recognised as suffering from Battle-Shock have been treated with the same drugs referred to above? Were they told of this potentially devastating Adverse Drug Reaction?
New Statesman. 9th February 2018. ‘He said that he entered politics with a view to improving the care of Veterans’.
It is a compelling concept for an MP of this background, a man of courage and conscience to join Professor Healy and apply genuine evidence based ADR medicine to increase public and professional awareness. To begin to prevent the tragedies such as SSRI induced AKATHISIA, DISINHIBITION, EMOTIONAL BLUNTING, VIOLENCE AGAINST OTHERS AND SELF; as well as POST SSRI SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION, PGAD, and the remainder of a very long risk-list of toxicities. This concern is not only for Veterans, but also for OUR CHILDREN, OUR LOVED ONES and for everyone who has had a life destroyed or ended via the decades of refusal to debate, to measure, monitor, record and analyse these prescription drug induced tragedies.
Mr. Mercer, Warrior, M.P. for Plymouth Moor View, please pick up this gauntlet.
We need a man of courage. We could invest faith in you.
I have written again today to Jonathan Leach (with link to this blogpost), who I wrote to 2 years ago.
I see that he is co-author of this 2019 article:
“4. Medication is not usually required
Within primary care, many patients with PTSD may not require medication and in broad terms CBT or EMDR are recommended first. However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertraline or venlafaxine may be offered if the patient wishes. The use of other medications (e.g. antipsychotics) should only be initiated in specialist settings. It is important to note that the use of benzodiazepines should be avoided in patients with PTSD.7,11 ”
UNFORTUNATELY it is abundantly apparent that the reality GPs almost invariaby prescribe SSRIs & SNRIs …. and then all manner of other drugs for the #effects ..
I will post here if I get any response.
So… I did get a response from Jonathan Leach, after prodding, on 8 Sept 2021:
Sorry I did look at this and sorry I did not reply.
As we have discussed previously, there is a place for medication, however we are very clear that the use of other treatment methods are very important and as NICE has said, more important. We continue to expand Op Courage and you may have seen the additional £2.7M we have received to provide additional capacity for those affected by recent news from Afghanistan. I also know that there is work to look at expanding other welfare support, all of the above should reduce the need for medication, which I agree with.
Thanks for sending this across.
With best wishes
Dr Jonathan Leach OBE
Thanks for this & your perseverance to raising awareness of the harms from prescription drugs across the board Marion brown. In theory NICE reports seem credible but that one statement says it all “ However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertraline or venlafaxine may be offered if the patient WISHES!.” Sadly public knowledge & media bias conflict to blame patients who have no INFORMED CONSENT. Pill popping illustrated in films for decades encourage those in need to think they actually help rather than harm. I am Meeting veterans where not only those traumatised by war etc but their spouses & even teenage family are all on SSRIs courtesy of the GP -who has insufficient knowledge to cope – exacerbating the initial plea for help by poly pharmacy when symptoms of adverse drug reaction ( Akathisia) are misunderstood as a relapse rather than a symptom of increasingly common drug reactions! Thus must be tackled now Even though we know that pharmaceutical companies are fighting hard to keep their domination of world markets at the expense of those needing help – WARRIORS are needed to fight this dangerous foe that is numbing, mentally damaging & causing suicidal behaviour in our brave warriors who seek & deserve support. Johnny Mercer please see & accept the support of many experts (who have been voices in the wilderness of mislabelled suicides.& illness)to fight a very real campaign .
Those who suffer deserve more than just desperate volunteer peer supporters who also struggle.
Having collected some important relevant information with the help of UK Charity PTSD Resolution, https://ptsdresolution.org/, I have written again to Johnathan Leach.
Further to communications below, we have now carried out a piece of work to identify what antidepressants etc. people who are accessing psychotherapy via PTSD Resolution may be taking.
Attached is a ‘Snapshot’ of basic information logged by PTSDResolution Charity, for anonymised cases open as at 13 September 2021.
It confirms our impression of what people are trying to deal with: medications with lots of unpleasant effects, some of which can interfere with effective psychotherapy – and effects which can lead to medication-induced suicidality and suicides. (see Missd.co and AkathisiaAlliance.org).
My associate Beverley Thomson’s new book “Antidepressed” is due for publication soon – and contains an informative chapter about Armed Forces and veterans … Antidepressed by Beverley Thomson: 9781578269235 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books . An information sheet about te new book is attached.
We have been most alarmed at the recent Media reporting of the ANTLER study – including a very misleading interview about antidepressants with GP Dr Ellie Cannon on ITV This Morning 11 October 2021.
My Rapid Response about the ANTLER study was published by BMJ: Re: Half of people who stopped long term antidepressants relapsed within a year, study finds | The BMJ
COPY OF Word ATTACHMENT sent with email pasted below:
“a useful piece of work might be to audit the medication that patients are taking as they are referred into our services.” Jonathan Leach 6 June 2019
Project Clinical Lead, Chair NHS England Armed Forces and their Families Clinical Reference Group
PTSD Resolution Charity UK
About Us (ptsdresolution.org)
Reference group: Cases comprise anonymised clients (men & women) who contact PTSDR wishing to engage in the Charity’s free (to clients) counselling/psychotherapy service offered for PTSD symptoms. Key Facts (ptsdresolution.org)
SUMMARY from Pragmatic Tracker spreadsheet information:
PTSDR case records as at 13 Sept 2021
332 anonymised open cases:
Approx 50% of open cases report, on PTSDR Pragmatic Tracker intake, being on prescribed antidepressants.
A few are on more than one antidepressant + benzo (eg diazepam) &/or antipsychotic (eg. olanzapine) &/or Z-drug (eg zopiclone) &/or other eg. propanolol, gabapentin, lamotrigine etc.)
Of these people, spreadsheet record indicates:
50 sertraline, 36 mirtazapine, 22 citalopram, 19 fluoxetine,
8 venlafaxine, 5 duloxetine, 1 paroxetine
5 sertraline + mirtazapine
2 fluoxetine + mirtazapine
2 venlafaxine + mirtazapine + lamotrigine
1 mirtazapine + sertraline + venlafaxine + zopiclone + propanolol ….
Remainder on unspecified or assorted “prescribed antidepressant medication” (incl. tricyclics & trazodone)
Of these people on medication, 65 individuals indicate an acknowledged current risk of self-harm/suicide (rated low, medium or high)
With thanks to Tony Gauvain and Trustees of PTSDR resolution,
Bill Andrews and Leanne Compton, Pragmatic Tracker, for providing an anonymised spreadsheet ‘snapshot’ record from which this information has been extracted.
PTSD Resolution Charity for UK Forces Veterans Mental Health