It seems that attorneys representing GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the UK have sent a letter threatening a patient (Bob Fiddaman). Fiddaman writes the "Seroxat (Paxil) Sufferers blog". As a result of the letter, Fiddaman felt intimidated to remove a video he created and posted to his website in February.
Here is a link to the Fiddaman Video which is now hosted on U-Tube.
As doctors we sell our services and the products of industry under the banner of science. The leadership of our profession has long colluded with industry to silence those who draw attention to dishonest science. Although much criticism of medicine is ill-founded, many critics strike at the core of what we do. Their questions are about science. Many of those critics are our patients. They question the quality, transparency and honesty of our science, and they do so with good reason. We ignore these patients and these questions at our peril. That such patients should be threatened is a disgrace.
GSK stand accused of conducting some fairly disreputable science. The particular questions Fiddaman has been asking in his blog relate to a particular medical employee of GSK, Dr Alastair Benbow. The attorneys apparently complained to Fiddaman that Benbow was feeling harassed as a result of the video. They also took umbrage that Fiddaman has implied that Benbow was a liar.
It seems to me that Dr Benbow does indeed have some serious answering to do. He has to explain whether public comments he made were truthful (or otherwise) at the time he made them. If not truthful, he has to explain whether he lied, was duped by his employer, or whether he failed to examine the facts before making crucial public statements. He has to respond both as a scientist and as a medical doctor. And he has to respond in public.
It is not sufficient for a public scientific figure to claim harassment when asked to justify crucial public scientific statements that he made. There is a bit of age-old advice called the Second Rule of Holes: "When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging." In other words, don't let your ghostwriters draft your obituary.
Some of the questions Benbow has to answer are in the Glenmullen report. There are many other questions. Read Fiddamans blog, or other excellent blogs about the failure of science involving SSRI's written by questioning patients or patient representatives (Seroxat Secrets, Furious Seasons, AHRP, Matt Holford). Those very same questions are being asked by psychiatrists and psychologists (Clin Psych, Carlat).