Vincent and the GorillaReferring to the pharmaceutical industry, Marcia Angell, former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, said “What does the eight-hundred-pound gorilla do? Anything it wants to”. 

I haven’t really mentioned the TV3 documentary, apart from my view that Patricia Casey used the exercise to contradict Professor David Healy, pushing a vendetta that she’s harboured since long before my son died. Professor Healy was expecting it so it didn’t come as a surprise, although I don’t think he’d mind me saying that he thought her posthumous diagnosis of my son was unprofessional, unprecedented and a serious abuse of her position. Protecting the drug and pushing instead the ‘psychiatric illness’ came as no surprise either – par for the course within Irish psychiatry.

It’s interesting that Patricia’s colleague, Irish psychiatrist and fellow Lundbeck supporter Ted Dinan, took a complaint to the medical council against doctor Michael Corry for commenting on Shane’s case without ever having met him; will he be doing the same with Patricia? Dr Justin Brophy, another Irish psychiatrist, also took a complaint to the BAI against Dr Corry and RTE following his Late Late Show appearance. They do protest a lot; could they possibly be right or are they just protecting their cash cow?

The debate following the documentary was supposed to be about the possible adverse effects of SSRIs and whether they can, or cannot, cause a person to become suicidal and/or homicidal. The debate, which sadly didn’t answer any questions on the drug issue can be viewed here. One of the panel, Pádraig MacLochlainn, a Sinn Féin TD, (22 mins) said that the experts need to get their facts in order, that the two experts Patricia Casey and David Healy expressed totally opposing views. He further stated that people need clarification on the effects of these drugs. Sensible man!

Now why would the debate not attempt to clarify these issues? David Healy was happy to take part and could have answered any queries put to him, but TV3 decided against it. Surely Patricia Casey would have welcomed the chance to have an open and honest discussion, considering not only does David Healy say that SSRIs including Citalopram can cause sudden death, suicide and homicide, he also says they cause miscarriages, birth defects and an increased rate of abortion due to the disinhibition effect when taking these drugs. Considering her well publicised views on abortion, she couldn’t possibly defend these drugs knowing that they actually increase the abortion rate, could she?

The only way to get any clarification on the effects of prescription drugs is to have a public debate; so why then did this promised debate not go ahead? Is it to do with the revenue that TV3 receive from its numerous pharmaceutical advertisements? Is Vincent Browne afraid to rock the boat and prod the pharma gorilla? It might be worth mentioning that Lundbeck, the inventor of the drug Citalopram, was supposed to take part in this debate but pulled out at the last minute. It might also be worth mentioning that this company has already admitted to reports of ‘self harm and harm to others’ in other countries such as Canada.

If David Healy was to be proved wrong, I’d be quite happy to admit to being misinformed, that Shane was just coincidently on this drug and I’d even apologise to Professor Casey. So how about it Vincent, will you facilitate a debate with the actual experts – or are you afraid to prod this particular gorilla?