Tuesday, April 01, 2008

It's Groundhog Day for bullying by GlaxoSmithKline over Seroxat

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).

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Radagast said...

You know, I nearly fell into the trap of discussing A&G's allegations, at one point! If A&G is in full possession of the facts, then it has conveniently ignored quite a few of them, in making the complaint that it has, in my view.

Ultimately, Benbow is the public face of Seroxat, and it is inevitable that the incongruences evident in his public utterances are scrutinized. To be honest, I'd be more interested in questioning the person who wrote Benbow's scripts, because I can't imagine that Benbow came out with half of that stuff himself, especially when he starts (somewhat insultingly), quoting GSK's tagline, as if that piece of marketing guff were a scientific fact.

Bob's asking perfectly reasonable questions. The fact that GSK is afraid to answer them does not make those questions harassment, defamation, or anything else that might be used conveniently to threaten and intimidate a vocal opponent. Jesus, I can't believe that I've felt the need to state that. I shouldn't have to.


Fid said...

Thanks for this Aubrey.

You know, the more I dwell on this, the more I think they have dropped a calamitous clanger.

Benbow can get away with labelling Dr Healy as being 'wrong' in his opinion about SSRi's (on national TV taboot) yet when a patient who has suffered at the hands of a particular drug Benbow supports then that patient is hauled over the coals.

The only way I can fight back is with the written word - for all intents and purposes the video was merely slides with the written word. I have no bottomless pit of money to take these people on in court - and they know it.

As you and your readers can see, the video is balanced. It offers the viewer to take in both sides of the story. 'A' said this and 'B' defended it with this. A debate with slides if you will.

Personal messages of support and comments left on my blog have been uplifting for me.

I am astounded at the attitude of GSK, Benbow and/or its lawyers to intimidate someone with a personal opinion.

My comment about Benbow was one of sheer frustration and in hindsight I should have maybe toned it down a little. However, I am not the only one who has publicly left remarks about Dr Benbows mutterings... and I doubt if I will ever be the last.

This whole affair has caused me great sadness - I even thought about throwing the towel in on the whole Seroxat campaign but family and friends have shown me in no uncertain terms that GSK would just love that.

It's hard knowing this drug has taken the lives of many, we have coroners and scientists that back this claim up so I don't think that is libellous or defamatory is it?

It's hard sitting back and listening to GSK (Who in the main use Benbow as their mouthpiece) defend Seroxat and their actions despite hard evidence that they are wrong.

Sometimes you just want to scream from the rooftops. The only way, it seems, is by using the only thing inside me that keeps me going, that being a passion to seek and find the truth - if that hurts people along the way because they have either been duped by the facts or have been less than forthright with the answers they gave then so be it.

Thanks for your support, it means a lot.


Truthman30 said...


The Irony of this whole situation is - the video in question has now been posted by more bloggers on the Internet , so if the intention of GSK with this intimidation was to suppress this video it seems it has backfired spectacularly. The video is now being shown on Youtube , Furious seasons, Scientific misconduct and the AHRP blog amongst others..
So it seems others have decided to host it, which takes the heat off Fiddaman..

GSK have transformed a storm in a tea cup into an internet shitstorm..


Anonymous said...

They can intimidate, but they'll never stop the truth from coming out.

Anonymous said...

Benbosamine has helped millions of industry psychiatrist worldwide.

Anonymous said...

Are GSK et al gonna take us ALL on then?

They can try, but they're going to look a bit foolish. And every time they have a little success, a few more will pop up to fight them.

But good luck to you Big Pharma Boys anyway, you've got the money and you're gonna need it.

Anonymous said...

The blogs and tubes are going to be the end of this kind of B.S. from pharma.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Blumsohn,
Thank you very much for what you said in this post. It is wonderful to read a doctor saying what you did.