Bangor, Wales — Today’s UK release of the movie Side Effects should remind us of the real world drug side effect problem. Drug side effects are now a leading cause of death, disability, and illness. Experts estimate that only 1–10% of “serious” adverse events (those causing hospitalization, disability, or death) are ever reported. Not to mention the millions of “medically mild” adverse drug events that occur each year — ones that compromise a person’s concentration, functioning, judgment, and ability to care. It has been reported that nearly a million patients a year are admitted to hospital in the UK alone due to adverse reactions to prescription drugs. The MHRA had 274, 123 reported suspected adverse reactions to prescription drugs from Jan 2000 – Nov 2011 of which nearly 12,000 people died. The bill for adverse reactions to drugs costs the NHS nearly a billion pounds a year. During the years 1995-2010, only 26 drugs were withdrawn.
In the first part of the movie, Side Effects, released in the UK on Friday 8 March, there is an expose of the pharmaceutical industry and greedy doctors. Emily Hawkins (Rooney Mara) is put on Ablixa by her psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law) and while on it kills her husband. She apparently murders him while sleep-walking triggered by Ablixa and sleep walking being a perfect defence against murder she is acquitted.
That’s the film but in the real world can this happen?
Side Effects launched in the USA on Februay 8, 2013 in a week that saw a Dutch court hear evidence that paroxetine (aka Aropax, Paxil, Pexeva, Seroxat, Sereupin) can cause violent behaviour. An English translation from the court records follows:
“The suspect bashed in his girlfriend’s head using a fire extinguisher and then shot a police officer. Other law enforcement officers then shot the suspect 5 times, but they still had a lot of trouble trying to restrain the suspect”.
“The officers stated that they shot the suspect in the chest but it did not seem to have any effect. After the suspect had also been shot in the leg and shoulder, the suspect was still able to resist arrest. He still managed to hit another officer in the head using his gun. Officers even used pepper spray but that too did not yield any results. The officers stated that the suspect acted like a zombie”.
“Court experts stated that it was highly likely that the behaviour of the suspect had been caused by the use of Paroxetine”.
RxISK is the first free, independent website where patients, doctors, and pharmacists can research prescription drugs and easily report a drug side effect — identifying problems and possible solutions earlier than is currently happening and receive personalised assessments of the risk why their prescriptions are causing the problems they report.
Co-founder of RxISK and prominent psychopharmacologist, author, scientist and acknowledged expert on antidepressants and the pre-market trials that assess their safety, Dr David Healy from Wales says “the public has been deprived of crucial information about the behavioural side effects that these and other common medications can have. The film will highlight some of these issues. There are national and international regulations concerning prescription drugs, but are these enough to protect us? Obviously not.”
Side Effects, the film, has some interesting twists in the storyline; side effects from prescription drugs also have some dark and sinister twists totally unexpected by most people. For more information on these twists see RxISK.org.
RxISK.org is owned and operated by Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd. (DBM). DBM’s founders have international reputations in early drug-side-effect detection and risk mitigation, pharmacovigilance, and patient-centered care. Although drug side effects are known to be a leading cause of death and disability, less than 5% of serious drug side effects are reported. DBM’s mission is to capture this missing data directly from patients through RxISK’s free drug side effect reporting tool and use this data to help make medicines safer for all of us.
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