Otezla: Birth Defects and Suicide

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February 27, 2017 | 23 Comments


  1. Whilst I find this such an interesting read, it also frightens the life out of me! It’s interesting how companies are now owning up and providing warnings of possible side effects of their drugs – but, knowing these companies as we do, I immediately find myself working out what’s in it for them. The warnings are there for a reason for sure – but, unfortunately, we can bet that the reason is not the well being of the patient.
    With so many drug names – and a variety of names for each single drug, I can certainly see how easy it would be to find yourself using one of these drugs without realising what could happen. Yes, it warns you on the box – but if ALL new drugs, from now on, are appearing with such a warning, will we still heed the said warnings? I think I’ll need a ‘wallet card’ listing the names of these new drugs – just in case!
    Why, oh why, can we not be satisfied with changing our lifestyles to suit our ailments – many of which, after all, are outward signs of a reaction within, to something which does not agree with us. Why do we feel that pumping chemicals into an already suffering body is going to work to the good? We are so aware of the dangers of pollutants in the air that we breathe – caused by chemicals and yet we merrily add to our systems by means of a prescription. Is it any wonder our systems fail – be it physically or mentally?

  2. Well said Mary! Madness is in the air, and it’s not coming from the patients. Why doesn’t Joe Public see it? Why are they sleepwalking into trouble, clutching their prescriptions, shutting down their intuitive brains and common sense? Like you say, it frightens the life out of me too. Is all this Pharma stuff going to ultimately annihilate us, the equivalent of plague or dinosaurs?

    • I reckon that Joe Public doesn’t see it because Joe Public hasn’t experienced it Heather. We fully appreciate the possible harms simply because we’ve witnessed them. I’ve often said that, had I not witnessed the devastation these drugs can cause, I would not believe it either. The reactions are so sinister that, to my mind, words cannot possibly create a true picture of the suffering. Each and every one of us draws on personal experience to understand a message communicated to us by language – lack of experience leaves us unable to truly picture the real depths of the experience. I think it is for this reason that Joe Public cannot picture the possible reactions of taking these drugs – this, plus the fact that such things happen to others and never to one’s self. The message of ‘safety versus danger’ has always been one that we have difficulties with – we see that with tobacco, for example; ‘smoking kills’ is stated on the cigarette packet, yet many still smoke. This is my fear for the new ways with prescribed drugs – the warning may be there, but many will make the choice to ignore it. It is so obviously beneficial to the big companies to ‘show their hand’ in this way – no one can then turn round, when in the depths of the side-effects, and say that any of their suffering was unexpected. If ever there was a ‘win win’ situation – this is it!

  3. James Moore


    28 Feb 2017 — Hello

    As we approach 1,500 signatures again I want to say thank you, you’re amazing.

    Also, I’m posting this because I need your help with a little project. I am in the early stages of putting together a new audio podcast, which will discuss antidepressants and withdrawal. As part of the podcast, I want to interview people to get the real experiences of someone who has either tried to come off or who has stopped completely. As well as users experiences, I want to interview practitioners/professionals about the alternatives to the biomedical model of treatment and also about the worrying trend of increasing antidepressant prescribing.

    What I need is a 20 minute slot to interview you via Skype, you could see the questions in advance and you can even be anonymous if you wanted to.

    I have already interviewed Professor John Read and Dr. David Healy, amongst others. There is a huge amount of positive promotion of antidepressants out there, but very little which tells the real story. I want to help change the balance.

    If you wanted to find out more, or you were interested in being interviewed, please email me on feedback@jfmoore.co.uk I am planning on making the podcast available by mid to end of March. Thanks so much for your time, for your signatures and for your support.

    “Very little which tells the real story”



  4. I can’t help but get angry at the targeting of women for these toxic drugs. Again. And using the same ancient, toxic message: Your looks are the most important thing about you. Nothing else really matters. So, no risk is too big to take, right? (Of course, they also count on us not to really take in the enormity of the risks, which are hard to focus on when you’re watching something that looks for all the world like a perfume or cosmetics ad.)

    Actually, psoriasis affects equal numbers of women and men, they say. And onset can be anywhere from childhood to late middle age. A look back at last week’s column, with links to the studies of brodalumab or “Siliq,” showed me one more trick in the drug-company playbook.

    Pharma puts young women front and center when *promoting* these drugs. Yet Siliq, at least, was *tested* on a group that was 69% male–and about two-thirds over forty! What an odd choice … or is it?

    In fact it’s a smart dodge when you are dealing with a drug that’s showing worrisome levels of both suicidal behavior, and heart attacks. Although the popular press might lead you to think teens and young adults are at highest risk for suicide, actually it’s middle-aged men. In 2015, the suicide rate for U.S. women in their twenties was between 5.5 and 6 per 100,000. The rate for men in their fifties was roughly 31 per 100,000. And older men, of course, have far more heart attacks than younger women. (All this is in addition to above-average rates of both depression and cardiac problems in people with psoriasis, for reasons that are not well understood.)

    Looks to me like the makers of Siliq went out of their way to assemble a test pool with a high background rate of suicidal and cardiac “events.” A couple of each in the placebo group can go a long way to make a dicey drug look not quite so bad …

    • Perhaps low votamin d levels have a role in psoriasis. This would explain the depression and cardiac problems as well. It would be far less dangerous to optimalise vit d levels by means of supplements and heliotherapy before considering any of these rubbishy drugs. Not much money in that though.

      • Vitamin D doesn’t make psoriasis go away. People aren’t taking these drugs just to look better— well, maybe teenage girls are, but psoriasis is more than just unsightly, it’s incredibly physically uncomfortable and in many cases dbitating, limiting people’s ability to walk, or to use their hands, due to their skin cracking open and bleeding and getting infected. Diet does not cure psoriasis any more than these meds do. Nothing cures it, your only hope if you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis is that you will find something or some combination of things that gets you to a less uncomfortable place and gives you some portion of your life back long enough for you to be a somewhat productive member of society. And many people, like myself, have no choice but to try the big pharma drugs, because we are too sick and in pain to do our jobs anymore, and in order to collect disability, you have to document that you are following the doctor’s treatment plan, and guess what the doctor says when you say you’re afraid of the side effects or you’ve heard it doesn’t work well? Mine says, “I’ve had hundreds of people on it and I’ve never seen that. The benefits outweigh the risks. You’re free to find another rheumatologist if you don’t agree with my treatment.” She’d never heard of someone getting a full body rash with facial swelling from Gumira, either, and yet the rash miraculously went away when I stopped taking it. It didn’t help anyway. Otezls is next.

  5. I took Otezla for 3 months in 2014. I developed peripheral neuropathy while taking it, so I stopped taking it. I still have peripheral neuropathy that causes severe burning pain in my feet. I had to stop working and I have applied for SSD. I am 53 and have Sjogren’s Syndrome. The doc who prescribed Otezla insisted I had psoriatic arthritis, but all other doctors have said that it is Sjogren’s and Discoid Lupus. My blood is positive for Sjogren’s. The doc who prescribed the Otezla said that my newly developed peripheral neuropathy could not possibly be from Otezla. She tried to say it was from pre-diabetes (type II) stupid woman! My non-fasting blood sugar was 76… no diabetes!

  6. I have had some patients with suicidal thoughts that they attribute to Otezla. I had not seen that letter, good to know.

  7. Please stop the ranting and raving about big bad drug companies and post something relevant. Yes, the big pharma wants to make a profit, but competition is high in this market and so is the statistical data. I was prescribed Otezla several months ago. I have not decided if I will take it or not yet. I have inverse psoriasis, a very painful type of psoriasis that causes any place that skin touches skin to get inflamed to the point of bleeding. For those questioning why someone would take a medication with such possible side effects; for myself I just want the pain to stop. This started when I was about 30 and has gradually progressed over the last few years. It causes me anxiety just thinking this could get worse. I have tried diets. I have tried vitamins including fish oil, vitamin D3, probiotics, tumoric, and a daily multivitamin with little notice of improvement. The only thing that has brought relief has been cold compressions, meditation and prayer. I thank the writer, as the article did present some valid points to consider.

  8. I have been taking Otezla for 3 months. I was currently doing research for a letter I am writing to my insurance company, who are denying me coverage for Otezla. They want me to use Humira first..then Enbrel. Well, from the lawsuits I have just read against both those drugs, no way would I ever take those drugs. I must admit, today I feel extremely agitated. In fact, I am weeping right now for no reason. I am a some what healthy 58 year old woman. I have had moderate psoriasis for 45 years. My hands have become stiff, lately hence the use of Otezla, which was given as a free trail from an RA dr. I am going to be honest. The last few weeks, I have felt down. Been thinking of my dead parents a lot. And thinking about my own death, and when it might happen. Thankfully, I was aware of this side affect, from Otezla. I might just chuck it…(the meds) and go back to wearing long sleeve blouses again…I am usually really up beat. I mean we all feel sad sometimes. But, this feeling is close to blah, as blah can get. Even running 2 miles…no lift in spirits. So, I might finish this box they gave me…go back to slight suffering. The hand stiffness, is worrisome, as I love to work in the garden, clean house and yes I wax and wash my own car. Take care kids.

    • Please stop taking the Otezla and tell your doctor about the crying for no reason. This Med caused me to to almost end my life, it’s really bad and they warn you up front but the reality is that it ended up being a horrible med for someone already taking anti-depressants (Cymbalta 60mg) to take, I’m so thankful for my supportive Family and Friends that saw something was severely wrong with me and caring enough to tell me to stop taking the med and call my doctor. Please be careful and be aware that the side effects they warn you about are Very Real and can cost you your life.

  9. I started Otezla in July 2016. It worked wonderfully and my skin cleared within two months. Amazing results. Fast forward several months to May 2018 I got a severe infection in my foot, and had to go off Otezla (at the recommendation of my doctor) while I was on an antibiotic. I went back on the meds, after being cleared from my doctor, with a titration pack (same way I started the first time). Within two weeks of starting it I began to experience severe low moods. I assumed it was depression, which I’ve had before, and that it would pass. My mental health continued to decline throughout the year and I suffered daily with low mood and emotional responses: aggression, agitation, hopelessness, etc. A strep infection caused a hiatus in the meds again, May 2017. After being off Otezla for two weeks I noticed an immediate change in mood. Went back on, low mood increased again. Stopped taking it and have felt amazing, back to my old self. The mental health change is DEFINITELY attributed in my case to this medication. Unfortunately, since I discontinued the medicine my skin has flared to such a degree it now covers 90% of my body and I am in constant pain. I’m sad that I have to chose between having physical pain/mental clarity and depression/somewhat better clearer skin (less pain). Otezla has not cleared my skin since the first time I took it. This is no way to live.

    • I too had depression, mood swings, anxiety (led to breathing problems). I would be bad off and one time the doctor took me off to see what my skin did, all of the above went away, had a clear mind, felt like my old self.. got back on it and they came back.. got back off it and I was good again.. started humira a few months later, it too gives me that a couple days after I take it but it seems to be better then the otezla was..

  10. Hi All
    I am on day 12 of starter pack Otezla. Last night I was so agitated and despairing, II considered going to my kitchen to slit my throat. Thankfully my husband noticed how I was and helped me through the night. I will stop Otezla now as It scares me too much. Have never felt such despair in my life.
    Thank you all for your thoughts and views. Janet

  11. I can certainly vouch for the peripheral neuropathy in the form of an insane amount of itching; various parts of my body, especially my lower legs, were itching so bad that I was ready to start cutting myself to stop it. No exaggeration. On another happy note, complete impotence was a thing by the end of my 4th month of being on Otezla.

    I stopped taking it cold, without bothering to even consult with my dermatologist, and those symptoms vanished almost entirely within just a few days. At this point, I don’t even care if I’m on a medication as long as I’m not on this overpriced garbage.

    To be honest, it’s been a stressful time in my life so I’m not sure suicidal thoughts were caused by Otezla but I was sure having them. It’s been 2 weeks now and I haven’t had any of those feelings so it’s at least 50/50 that it was the cause.

  12. I took Otezla for 13 days, the whole time I suffered with horrible migraines, nausea and worse ning of pain. I could feel myself getting more depressed. On the 13th day I had a total breakdown..I was never more depressed in my life..I couldn’t stop cryng, I went manic..it was like being attacked by a demon. The next day, Iim feeling totally worn out, still depressed

  13. I don’t think people understand that psoriasis isn’t just a cosmetic disease, even though advertisers like to portray it that way, but that it is incredibly painful and that the itch can literally drive you mad. You can’t sleep through the itch during a flare. I feel full body flu-like symptoms during a flare. Many of us end up with secondary infections, I’ve had MRSA infections develop in the psoratic lesions. I’ve tried severe diets for 3 years and I developed psoratic arthritis in the last year, have seen no improvement in psoriasis through diet, and the PsA got so bad I couldn’t sleep and every step was painful so I started Otezla a month and a half ago. It’s done nothing for the skin manefestations of my psoriasis – and to be fair the literature says it can take a full four months to show improvement, but the PsA has very noticeably improved.

    But like everyone else I am experiencing pretty severe depression and irritability. I see my derm today and will go over the options. From methotrexate to biologics, there is no easy safe fix for severe psoriasis and PsA – Otezla has the best safety profile of the current options. I really feel like I’m stuck with an ogre’s choice.

    • Megan

      Otezla does not have the best safety record. The literature on it is ghostwritten and there is no access to the clinical trial data. Neither your doctor nor you know or even can know what the safety of this drug is like


      • I just went to my rheumatologist and because I’m hurting and been sick he prescribed Otezla. I can’t take biologics cause I’ve had basal cell skin cancer. He just doesn’t feel comfortable in giving me any drugs like that. On the other hand I have rheumatoid Arthritis. I’m on a DMARD already. I’m starting the trial pack tomorrow morning. We will see what happens. Much love to you 🥰

  14. Fortunately, I have not yet experienced these s/e. I was covered head to toe in psoriasis and absolutely miserable. I tried multiple natural remedies (diet changes and even quit my job because I began to have panic attacks due accumulated stress. I started Otezla two weeks later and saw no results until a little over 3 months later. During this time, my psoriasis continued to get worse but I kept taking this med due to no s/e experienced. When it started working, I was so thrilled.

    My husband and I want to start a family very soon so I will work with my doctor on coming off Otezla. I would prefer to not take any medication and have heard pregnancy can sometimes resolve psoriasis, temporarily.

    • I appreciate a possible positive experience on this medication. I’m about to start. I’ve been living with severe psoriasis for years and it just keeps getting worse. It’s not cosmetic for me, it’s uncomfortable and irritating. I wanted to wait until after child to start internal meds and here I am. I hope your weaning off, and pregnancy journey go well for you.

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