(PRWEB) August 11, 2004
In a bold move reminiscent of Ralph NaderÂs 1960Âs ÂUnsafe At Any SpeedÂ campaign a consumer activist group which calls itself ÂSSRI CitizenÂ has launched a national awareness campaign designed to educate the general public about the serious health risks associated with the use of popular antidepressants such as Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor and Prozac.
The groupÂs web site (see http://www.ssriCitizen.org) sells bumper stickers emblazoned with drug names followed by the warning ÂUnsafe At Any DoseÂ. ÂOur hope is the proliferation of the stickers will help raise public awareness of the dangers these drugs present and encourage people to visit our web site where they will discover drug safety information and other resources which heretofore have not been readily available to the consumer,Â said Rob Robinson, the organizationÂs founder and spokesperson.
ÂGiven the lengths we know pharmaceutical companies will go to guard the commercial profile of multi-billion dollar profit generators like Paxil, Zoloft, Effexor or Prozac it is surprising we havenÂt been contacted by one of these companies."
The group is also challenging SSRI drug company promotions which position celebrities such as actress Delta Burke (Effexor) and former NFL star Terry Bradshaw (Paxil) as drug spokespersons. ÂThese individuals, who are paid handsomely for the use of their name and influence, are not spelling out for the public the extraordinarily serious risks associated with their drug of choice,Â Robinson said. ÂIts ÂTrojan horseÂ marketing Â get the pills into medicine cabinets of America using glitzy ads and slick Hollywood stars. But donÂt tell the public what really might be lying-in-wait for them inside those innocent-looking pills.Â
ÂThe bottom line is these drug companies are driven by shareholders to increase sales of these drugs and thus increase profits,Â Robinson said. ÂIn the case of GlaxoSmithKline its ÂIf we can make three billion dollars a year off Paxil Â why not four, five or more?Â Its that kind of rationale that led to GSKÂs pivotal role in the creation of another ÂTrojan horseÂ marketing stratagem called ÂTMAPÂ or the Texas Medication Algorithm Project. Through TMAP, GSK and other drug companies methodically compromised the decision making of elected and appointed public officials to gain access to captive populations of mentally ill individuals in prisons and state mental health hospitals.Â For more information see http://www.ahrp.org/infomail/04/07/07.html
In another marketing ploy GlaxoSmithKline is using Terry Bradshaw to lead the Paxil marketing charge in a program called ÂThe All-Stars at WorkÂ which targets Âmental health in the workplace.Â ÂThe ÂprogramÂ is supported by an unrestricted Âeducational grantÂ from GlaxoSmithKline,Â Mr. Robinson said. ÂWe considered sending Mr. Bradshaw a complimentary case of bumper stickers that say ÂTerry Bradshaw Says Eat More PaxilÂ to hand out to workers. Maybe it would make him think twice about his continued promotion of the drug. At least, weÂd like to think so.Â
Mr. Bradshaw is also traveling throughout the country under the aegis of GSK to promote the use of Paxil through a series of speeches, albeit without his former Paxil sidekick Ricky Williams. (Mr. Williams, another football star, parted company from GSK last year and was recently quoted in the press as saying ÂMarijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil.Â) The web site GSK formerly maintained for the duo at http://www.rickyandterry.com has vanished and been replaced by another dubbed http://www.terryinyourtown.com All mention of Mr. Williams has been expunged from GSKÂs web site at http://www.gsk.com
ÂAlthough Mr. Bradshaw claims his GSK-backed Âdepression tourÂ is Âthe coolest thing heÂs ever done in his lifeÂ his tour schedule is not posted at his web site. If you contact GSK or the public relations firm responsible for coordinating Mr. BradshawÂs appearances all you get is an answering machine asking you to leave your contact information. But no one ever calls back,Â Robinson said. ÂIf Mr. BradshawÂs promotion of Paxil is, as he puts it Â Âso coolÂ Â wouldnÂt GSK want everyone in the world to know where Mr. Bradshaw is going to be, and when, so the public can have an opportunity to hear him talk about Paxil?Â
SSRI Citizen is demonstrating against Mr. Bradshaw who is slated to speak in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Trade Center on November 18th, 2004 from 6:00 p.m. E.S.T - 8:30 p.m. E.S.T. His topic will be "Why Not Be Your Best: The Winning Strategy of Conquering Depression." For more information contact Marianne Edwards at (423) 763-4626. Individual tickets are $65. A table for eight is $500. Paxil victims as well as families who lost a loved one to a Paxil-induced suicide are encouraged to attend and participate in the protest. Concerns over the planned protest have already caused the sponsor to cancel a book signing session that was to follow Mr. BradshawÂs speech.
The groupÂs public awareness campaign follows the announcement of a suit filed in June, 2004 by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer which alleges PaxilÂs manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, engaged in repeated and persistent fraud by concealing and failing to disclose to physicians critical information about PaxilÂs safety and efficacy relative to its use in the pediatric population. ÂDoctors should have access to all scientifically sound information so that they can prescribe appropriate medication for their patients,Â Spitzer said. "By concealing critically important scientific studies on Paxil, GSK impaired doctors' ability to make the appropriate prescribing decision for their patients and may have jeopardized their health and safety."
Other states may soon follow SpitzerÂs lead.
But Spitzer is late bringing Glaxo (et al) to the bar of justice. Previously, over 5,000 individuals in the United States and more than 2,500 in Britain have sued GlaxoSmithKline after they became addicted to Paxil Â and then suffered what in many cases were severe and sometimes life-threatening drug withdrawals. ÂBut for every individual represented by counsel there are probably a minimum of a hundred or more people who are not Â but who should be. Many victims addicted to Paxil never grasp what has happened to them until they tried to stop taking the drug Â and then could not do so without suffering severe withdrawal symptoms. And if they contacted GlaxoSmithKline for help they were advised the drug was not the problem,Â Mr. Robinson said. ÂYet in Britain GSK has dropped the claim on its patient leaflet saying Paxil is not addictive. Logically, one can only conclude the company knows and concedes that Paxil can be addictive. Why else would they drop the claim?Â
In July, 2004 in another civil action involving SSRIs a suit was filed in California by attorneys Karen Barth-Menzies and Ronald Goldman on behalf of Roberta Madison, a nurse and doctor of Public Health, acting as a Private Attorney General. That suit alleges ZoloftÂs maker, Pfizer, misled physicians and the public regarding ZoloftÂs safety and efficacy, particularly with regard to suicidality and withdrawal symptoms caused by the drug. Ms. BarthÂMenzies said ÂWe have been trying for years to raise public awareness about these issues. We believe that the truth has been suppressed for too long and as a result there has been an enormous waste of money, thousands of people have been harmed by these drugs and many lives have been shattered. We hope this lawsuit will be a significant step toward exposing the fraud.Â
For more information visit http://www.ssriCitizen.org
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