The Irish Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2009

When risks outweigh benefits

Concern rises over finding the balance between positive and negative effects of antidepressants, writes EOIN BURKE-KENNEDY 

DRUG-MAKER GlaxoSmithKline was recently ordered to pay $2.5 million (€1.7 million) over claims its Seroxat antidepressant, sold as Paxil in the US, caused birth defects.

The case was brought by the family of three-year-old Lyam Kilker, who was born with two holes in his heart – birth defects his mother blames on the antidepressant.

A court in Philadelphia found the company had failed to adequately warn doctors and pregnant users of the risks associated with the drug.

GlaxoSmithKline says it intends to appeal the verdict on the grounds the scientific evidence did not establish that exposure to Paxil during pregnancy caused the child’s condition.

The case is the first of 600 such trials due before the US courts, and the verdict is likely to exacerbate public concern about the use of antidepressants.

Earlier this year, the Irish Medicines Board (IMB) advised pregnant women against taking Seroxat, and urged women wanting to become pregnant and who are taking the drug to carefully consider the risks and benefits before continuing on the medication.

Some studies have found an increased risk of birth defects, particularly heart defects, associated with the use of Seroxat during the first three months of pregnancy.

The problem with assessing the risks associated with antidepressants is that there are hundreds of studies relating to their efficacy and side effects, many of which contradict each other, and an equal number of experts making claims and counter claims.

The British Medical Journal has published a study suggesting young adults are twice as likely to experience suicidal thoughts while taking antidepressants, than older people who are prescribed the same medication.

Here, the mother and stepfather of Shane Clancy, who killed student Sebastian Creane and stabbed two others before taking his own life, have said they believe antidepressants played a role in their son’s behaviour.

Concern over the side effects of antidepressants has prompted the Irish Medicines Board to include a leaflet inside antidepressant prescription boxes, warning the medicines may sometimes be associated with “thoughts of harming or killing yourself” in the early stages of use.

Several leading Irish psychiatrists have voiced concern that misleading and sensationalist claims in the media about antidepressants might encourage vulnerable people who have been prescribed the drugs to discontinue their medication.

They say the efficacy and safety of antidepressants have been rigorously scrutinised by regulatory authorities such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), and the Irish Medicines Board (IMB).

They insist antidepressants have transformed the lives of millions of people with depressive illnesses, who would otherwise have needed hospital treatment.

They also warn that some studies have linked a reduction in prescription rates for antidepressants to a rise in suicides in several industrialised countries.

Irish psychiatrist Prof David Healy, who is based at Cardiff University, believes the problem with assessing the efficacy of antidepressants is that doctors are using a variety of different drugs, whose effects are not fully understood, to treat a range of mood disturbances which are even less well understood.

Healy says some antidepressants have an energy-enhancing effect, while others like Prozac and Seroxat have an anxiety-relieving effect. “These drugs may or may not be helpful to someone who is depressed.”

Healy says prescribing an antidepressant requires careful consideration of what type of mood disturbance the patient is experiencing, and a close monitoring of the effects of the treatment.

The latest guidelines from the UK’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) on the treatment and care of people with depression and anxiety recommend antidepressants should not be used for the initial treatment of mild depression, because of the “poor risk-benefit ratio”.

The guidelines advise the medicines should ideally be used alongside cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and other “talk therapies” such as counselling.

In the past, psychiatrists drew a distinction between “melancholia”, which was considered a severe and protracted depression, and “reactive depression” whose less severe symptoms were brought on by an adverse life event. Nowadays the emphasis has shifted to seeing depression as a continuum from major to minor.

Critics have long accused the pharmaceutical industry of attempting to broaden the criteria governing depression – of pathologising unhappiness – in a cynical attempt to sell more medicines.

Between 300,000 and 400,000 people in Ireland suffer from some form of depression or anxiety. There are no reliable figures for the numbers taking antidepressants, but the general medical scheme (GMS) subsidises more than 1.1 million prescriptions annually for new-generation antidepressants.

These drugs, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – which include Prozac and Seroxat – work by blocking the reuptake or recycling of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

The chemical theory of depression suggests a shortfall of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and noradrenalin, produces the symptoms of depression and correcting this can help to reduce the symptoms.

But professor of psychology at the University of Hull, Irving Kirsch, believes SSRIs are no better than placebo in treating depression, as their biological effects are below the criteria for clinical significance.

He bases his controversial claim on an analysis of antidepressant medication data submitted to the FDA in the US.

He says a meta-analysis of the data for four commonly prescribed SSRIs avoids “the bias” caused by pharmaceutical companies selectively reporting only positive results.

Kirsch also believes there is now “no evidential support” for the prevailing chemical theory of depression, as the relationship between serotonin and mood has not been proved.

Professor of psychiatry at University College Cork, Ted Dinan, takes issues with Kirsch’s views.

“Whatever one’s biological view of depression, to say that the current licensed medications are nothing but glorified placeboes is utterly nonsense.”

Dinan insists the licensing of antidepressant medications requires large, multi-centred trials that must clearly show the medications are superior to placebo.

Madam, -

Dr SIOBHAN BARRY ( Monday, December 14, 2009) asks " for restrained and balanced presentation of the evidence" in reporting about ECT without consent. Is four-point restraint the position she wants to see permanently brain-damaged victims of ECT speak from?


Dorothee Krien

3 Beamont Place


Co Cork



We very much appreciate all the recent letters of support on the subject of forced ECT.  In addition, we would like to point out that there are other no less deserving survivors who, even in the face of the stigma referred to by Dr. Siobhan Barry (DEC. 14), have spoken against the practice at public protests which have taken place in Cork for the last three years.


As regards Dr. Barry’s claim that forced ECT is ethically well founded, similar claims were made by psychiatry as recently as the mid 20th century in relation to insulin-coma therapy and pre-frontal lobotomy.

Forced ECT is a perfect metaphor for the domination/control model of bio-psychiatry yet incredibly, Dr.Barry claims it to be “a human right” when in reality it is the opposite, to be ranked alongside other violations such as forced drugging and compulsory  treatment orders.

In a democratic society people have the right to choose.  Why are people with psycho/social problems treated differently?



Mary & Jim Maddock,

MindFreedom Ireland,



Letter sent to today's Irish Times.


This letter was publish in today's Irish Times the 18th of December. Forced Vaccinations, Government, and the Public Interest

By Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D.December 2009



Those who are observant have noticed a dangerous trend in the United States, as well as worldwide, and that is the resorting of various governments at different levels to mandating forced vaccination upon the public at large. My State of Mississippi has one of the most-restrictive vaccine-exemption laws in the United States, where exemptions are allowed only upon medical recommendation. Ironically, this is only on paper, as many have had as many as three physicians, some experts in neurological damage caused by vaccines, provide written calls for exemption, only to be turned down by the State’s public-health officer. Worse are the States, such as Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland, where forced vaccinations have either been mandated by the courts, the state legislature, or have such legislation pending. All of such policies strongly resemble those policies found in National Socialist empires, Stalinist countries, or Communist China. When public-health officers are asked for the legal justification for such draconian measures as forcing people to accept vaccines that they deem either a clear and present danger to themselves and their loved ones or have had personal experience with serious adverse reactions to such vaccines, they usually resort to the need to protect the public. One quickly concludes that if the vaccines are as effective as being touted by the public-health officials, then why should one fear the unvaccinated? Obviously the vaccinated would have at least 95% protection. This question puts them in a very difficult position. Their usual response is that a “small” percentage of the vaccinated will not have sufficient protection and would still be at risk. Now, if they admit what the literature shows, that vaccine failure rates are much higher than the 5% they claim, they must face the next obvious question – then why should anyone take the vaccine if there is a significant chance it will not protect? When pressed further, they then resort to their favorite justification, the Holy Grail of the vaccine proponents – herd immunity. This concept is based upon the idea that 95% (and some now say 100%) of the population must be vaccinated to prevent an epidemic. The percentages needing vaccination grows progressively. I pondered this question for some time before the answer hit me. Herd immunity is mostly a myth and applies only to natural immunity – that is, contracting the infection itself. Is Herd Immunity Real? In the original description of herd immunity, the protection to the population at large occurred only if people contracted the infections naturally. The reason for this is that naturally-acquired immunity lasts for a lifetime. The vaccine proponents quickly latched onto this concept and applied it to vaccine-induced immunity. But, there was one major problem – vaccine-induced immunity lasted for only a relatively short period, from 2 to 10 years at most, and then this applies only to humoral immunity. This is why they began, silently, to suggest boosters for most vaccines, even the common childhood infections such as chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella. Then they discovered an even greater problem, the boosters were lasting for only 2 years or less. This is why we are now seeing mandates that youth entering colleges have multiple vaccines, even those which they insisted gave lifelong immunity, such as the MMR. The same is being suggested for full-grown adults. Ironically, no one in the media or medical field is asking what is going on. They just accept that it must be done. That vaccine-induced herd immunity is mostly myth can be proven quite simply. When I was in medical school, we were taught that all of the childhood vaccines lasted a lifetime. This thinking existed for over 70 years. It was not until relatively recently that it was discovered that most of these vaccines lost their effectiveness 2 to 10 years after being given. What this means is that at least half the population, that is the baby boomers, have had no vaccine-induced immunity against any of these diseases for which they had been vaccinated very early in life. In essence, at least 50% or more of the population was unprotected for decades. If we listen to present-day wisdom, we are all at risk of resurgent massive epidemics should the vaccination rate fall below 95%. Yet, we have all lived for at least 30 to 40 years with 50% or less of the population having vaccine protection. That is, herd immunity has not existed in this country for many decades and no resurgent epidemics have occurred. Vaccine-induced herd immunity is a lie used to frighten doctors, public-health officials, other medical personnel, and the public into accepting vaccinations. When we examine the scientific literature, we find that for many of the vaccines protective immunity was 30 to 40%, meaning that 70% to 60% of the public has been without vaccine protection. Again, this would mean that with a 30% to 40% vaccine-effectiveness rate combined with the fact that most people lost their immune protection within 2 to 10 year of being vaccinated, most of us were without the magical 95% number needed for herd immunity. This is why vaccine defenders insist the vaccines have 95% effectiveness rates. Without the mantra of herd immunity, these public-health officials would not be able to justify forced mass vaccinations. I usually give the physicians who question my statement that herd immunity is a myth a simple example. When I was a medical student almost 40 years ago, it was taught that the tetanus vaccine would last a lifetime. Then 30 years after it had been mandated, we discovered that its protection lasted no more than 10 years. Then, I ask my doubting physician if he or she has ever seen a case of tetanus? Most have not. I then tell them to look at the yearly data on tetanus infections – one sees no rise in tetanus cases. The same can be said for measles, mumps, and other childhood infections. It was, and still is, all a myth. The entire case for forced mass vaccination rest upon this myth and it is important that we demonstrate the falsity of this idea. Neil Z. Miller, in his latest book The Vaccine Information Manual, provides compelling evidence that herd immunity is a myth. The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions Those pushing mandatory vaccination for an ever-growing list of diseases are a mixed bag. Some are quite sincere and truly want to improve the health of the United States. They believe the vaccine-induced herd immunity myth and likewise believe that vaccines are basically effective and safe. These are not the evil people. A growing number are made of those with a collectivist worldview and see themselves as a core of elite wise men and women who should tell the rest of us what we should do in all aspects of our lives. They see us as ignorant cattle, who are unable to understand the virtues of their plan for America and the World. Like children, we must be made to take our medicine – since, in their view, we have no concept of the true benefit of the bad-tasting medicine we are to be fed. I have also found that a small number of people in the regulatory agencies and public health departments would like to speak out but are so intimidated and threatened with dismissal or destruction of their careers, that they remain silent. As for the media, they are absolutely clueless. I have found that “reporters” (we have few real journalists these days) rarely understand what they are reporting on and always trust and rely upon people in positions of official power, even if those people are unqualified to speak on the subject. Most of the time they run to the Centers for Disease Control or medical university to seek answers. I cannot count the number of times I have seen university department heads interviewed when it was obvious they had no clue as to the subject being discussed. Few such professors will pass up an opportunity to appear on camera or be quoted in a newspaper. One must also appreciate that such reporters and editors are under an enormous economic strain, as vaccine manufacturers are major advertisers in all media outlets and for an obvious reason – it controls content. A number of excellent stories on such medical subjects are spiked every day. That means we will always be relegated to the “fringe media” as our media outlets are called. Despite the high quality of the journalism in many of the “fringe” outlets, they have a much smaller audience. And despite this we are having an enormous effect on the debate. As the Public Awakens, the Collectivist Becomes Desperate John Jewkes, in his book Ordeal by Planning, observed that as the British collectivists began to see opposition rise to their grandiose plans, they became more desperate and aggressive in their reaction. They then initiated a campaign of smearing their opponents and blaming every failure on the unwillingness of the people to accept the planner’s dictates without question. We certainly have seen this in this debate –opponents to forced vaccinations are referred to as fringe scientists, kooks, uneducated, confused, and enemies of public safety – reminiscent of Stalin’s favorite phrase, “enemy of the people.” This desperation is based upon their fear that the public might soon catch on to the fact that the entire vaccine program is based upon nonsense, fear, and concocted fairy tales. One special fear of theirs is that the public might discover the fact that most vaccines are contaminated with a number of known and yet-to-be discovered viruses, bacteria, viral fragments, and DNA/RNA fragments. And, further, that our science demonstrates that these contaminants could lead to a number of slowly-developing degenerative diseases, including degenerative diseases of the brain. This is rarely discussed but is of major importance in this debate. The idea that adults and their children would be forced to submit to being injected with dozens of these organisms and organic fragments is terrifying. No regulatory agency is tracking to see if chronic diseases are rising in the vaccinated, yet we have compelling evidence of a massive rise in all autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, and certain cancers since the advent of a dramatic increase in the number of vaccines being mandated. Of special concern is the finding that many of the contaminant organisms can pass from generation to generation. For example, new studies have found that SV-40, a major contaminant of the polio vaccine until 1963, not only existed as a latent virus for the lifetime of those exposed to the vaccine but was being passed on to the next generation, primarily by way of sperm, something called vertical transmission. This means that every generation from now on will be infected with this known carcinogenic virus. There is also compelling evidence that some polio vaccines manufactured after 1963 may contain SV-40 virus. What makes the SV-40 contamination disaster of such concern is its association with so many cancers – including mesothelioma, medulloblastoma, ependymoma, meningioma, astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, pituitary adenoma, glioblastoma, osteosarcomas, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, papillary thyroid carcinomas, and anaplastic thyroid carcinomas. The Federal government has gone to enormous links to cover up this association, despite the powerful scientific evidence that this vaccine infected at least a hundred million people worldwide with this carcinogenic virus. And, it took over 40 years just to get this far. Linking vaccine contaminations and immunoexcitotoxicity to the drastic rise in neurodegenerative diseases will probably take even longer because of the widespread growth of entrenched powers high in government and their control of the media, which is equally extensive. The fact that powerful, enormously wealthy foundations, such as the Ford Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Rockefeller series of foundations, are supporting forced vaccination greatly enhances the power of governments all over the World. These foundations operate in the shadows, influencing legislation and government actions through the World Health Organization and individual governmental bodies. Behind every call for forced vaccinations, mandated quarantines, and home invasions, one can find one of these foundations providing the money as well as experts. Remember, the largest of the pharmaceutical-vaccine manufacturers are also providing much of the money for the foundations and serving on the boards of these foundations. The Rockefellers either owned outright or had controlling interest in all of the major pharmaceutical companies. This has given them absolute and extremely powerful access to the reins of power at all levels. Yet, they can be defeated by the truth. Dr. Blaylock is a board-certified neurosurgeon, author and lecturer. He attended the LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana and completed his internship and neurosurgical residency at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina. For the past 24 years he has practiced neurosurgery in addition to having a nutritional practice for 2 years. Retiring from his neurosurgical practice to devote full time to nutritional studies and research, Dr. Blaylock has written and illustrated three books (Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life, and Natural Strategies for The Cancer Patient). In addition, he has written and illustrated three chapters in medical textbooks, written a booklet on nutritional protection against biological terrorism, has an e-booklet on radioprotection (Nuclear Sunrise), written and illustrated a booklet on multiple sclerosis, and written over 30 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals. Other credits include Dr. Blaylock's DVD Nutrition & Behavior, a CD-ROM on the Truth About Aspartame, and, for the past five years, a health newsletter The Blaylock Wellness Report, published by NewsMax. Since the publication of his first book, he has been a guest on over 100 syndicated radio and television programs and appeared on the 700 Club seven times. He lectures widely to both lay and professional medical audiences on a variety of nutritional subjects. Dr. Blaylock is a visiting professor of biology at Belhaven College and serves on the editorial staff of the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, the editorial staff of the Fluoride Journal and is on the editorial staff of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, official journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. He is also a regular lecturer for the Fellowship for Anti-aging and Regenerative Medicine.

ECT without consent

Madam, – Carl O’Brien, (Home News, December 7th) gave us an account of Mary Maddock’s appalling experience of forced ECT and antipsychotic drugs.

What a resilient and courageous woman! She is keenly aware of the vulnerability of people with psychiatric illness. The validity of her story must be heeded by psychiatrists, GPs, lawyers, our politicians and the rest of us. Congratulations to her and to Mr O’Brien for trying to inform readers of the hidden realities of some psychiatric “treatments”.

We’d like to think this was just in the past, but unfortunately it’s still happening, as Dr Siobhan Barry, psychiatrist, writes (December 14th). I find her attitude quite shocking.

Amnesty International is also trying to improve the situation. – Yours, etc,


Whitehurch Hill,

Dublin 16.


Thank you Margaret,

I would like to congratulate Martin Hynes, Colette Ni Duinneacha and Kevin Foley, who are also forced elelctroshock survivors, and have always come out against the odds to support me.

Mary Maddock.