Bob Fiddaman: Taking on the Pharmaceutical Regulators and the Seroxat Scandal

James Moore
19
1307

This week we have an interview with Bobby Fiddaman.

Bobby is a very well known author, blogger and researcher who has been writing about psychiatric drugs and the many issues involved for over 11 years.

In 2011 he released his book, ‘The Evidence, However, Is Clear…The Seroxat Scandal’ which is a powerful and explosive account of his experiences taking and withdrawing from the antidepressant Seroxat.

He is a rockstar of the movement to expose the truth about psychiatric drugs, to many he is a hero and to some, he is an uncompromising agitator. His blog has been viewed over 2 million times and he is respected by many and also well known by the pharmaceutical regulators and many of the pharmaceutical manufacturers too.

I was keen to ask Bobby about his own experiences of the mental health system, his research and campaigning over the years and his relationships with the UK and US pharmaceutical regulatory bodies.

In this episode we discuss:

  • How, in the late 1990s, Bobby had health problems which made working difficult and this led to low mood and a doctor prescribing Seroxat (Paxil, Aropax, Paroxetine)
  • How he felt that his moods and emotions were blunted by the drug and he recalls not feeling empathy or emotion
  • That eventually his pay was stopped and he was retired on ill health grounds but by this time his financial position was difficult and he became divorced
  • That Bobby took 21 months to wean himself off the Seroxat using a liquid form, going from 40 milligrams to 22 milligrams a day over 19 months
  • That he then quit cold turkey, against doctors advice, because he just want to get rid of the stranglehold that the drug had on him
  • How Bobby felt that his short term memory was affected by being on the drug
  • That sometimes it is harder for friends and family to experience someone going through withdrawal, because they don’t know what is happening to the person that they love
  • That these experiences promoted Bobby to write his 2011 book, ‘The Evidence, However, Is Clear…The Seroxat Scandal’
  • How Bobby stumbled across an article by the investigative journalist Evelyn Pringle and that set the ball rolling with his own blog
  • How Bobby’s blog started to cover the experiences of families who had experienced tragedy due to psychiatric drugs
  • That the blog hosts guest writers so people can tell their own story in their own words
  • How Bobby knows that the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the regulators are regular visitors to his blog
  • That Bobby has been told that his blog makes GlaxoSmithKline ‘cringe’ and this is a measure of the impact of his work
  • That Bobby feels that the manufacturers should just come clean and let the truth come out about the drugs, the clinical trials, the adverse effects and the withdrawal problems
  • That many people don’t understand that compensation and out of court settlements often just allow the truth to remain hidden
  • How Bobby was present for the entire trial between Wendy Dolin and GlaxoSmithKline and was shocked by the behaviour of GSKs attorneys
  • That the term ‘akathisia’ is not well known but is implicated in many suicides related to antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs
  • That doctors need to listen to patients to understand the wide range of effects of the drugs
  • That Bobby feels that the regulators, particularly the UK MHRA, should hang their heads in shame because they know about the problems with the drugs but do nothing in response
  • That there is an incestuous relationship between the pharmaceutical manufacturers and the regulators
  • How Bobby has had several meetings with the MHRA over the years, including meeting the CEO, but he feels that they meet to appease rather than take action in response to concerns
  • That Bobby also set up a meeting between MHRA and Dr. David Healy
  • That the regulators are totally funded by the pharmaceutical industry
  • How Bobby now highlights celebrities who promote the chemical imbalance theory of mental illness
  • That social media has had a big impact on the ability of people to get together and share experiences and make their voices heard
  • How the MHRA Yellow Card scheme is meant to work
  • How, when you start asking questions about follow up, you find that no action is taken and the database of adverse events is worthless
  • That nowhere on the labelling is a list of the benefits of antidepressant drugs
  • That in order to make the drugs safer, we should listen to patient concerns
  • That Bobby uses humour as a tool for getting the message heard
  • How Bobby would like to encourage others to write about their experiences

Relevant Links:

The Bobby Fiddaman blog

‘The Evidence, However, Is Clear…The Seroxat Scandal’

Reviews of ‘The Evidence, However, Is Clear…The Seroxat Scandal’

‘No Other Man’ (fictional novel)

Evelyn Pringle

The MHRA

The FDA

To get in touch with us via email: [email protected]

© Mad in America 2017

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19 COMMENTS

  1. James,

    If the Regulators and the MHRA are not acting, then what’s in it for the MHRA and the Regulators?

    Are The UK Regulators totally funded by the Pharmaceutical Industry?

    (I know all about Akathisia. I had a series of drug induced suicidal hospitalizations during the 1980s. I’m trying to clean my “mental health records” up at the moment, and I’m finding each regulator to be more dishonest than the next).

    I got Well like you, through carefully moving away from prescribed drug dependency.

      • Absolutely, it’s the point I’m making. Akathisia is a very very serious condition. So serious, that to acknowledge the true nature of akathisia: suicide/homicide, would undermine the pharmaceutical industry and it’s drug based implementation by psychiatry and the state. So far they have got away with it by saying they can not distinguish true mental illness from drug induced psychosis. Well now – and it has been for a long time – with pharmacogenetics it is possible. And in my view is why people who wish to fight on this area of drug toxicity need to concentrate on:

        1. Akathisia
        2. Pharmacogenetics
        3. The common food stuffs/herbs/spices and drugs/ drug interactions which inhibit/block the liver enzymes (Cytochrome P450) thereby causing the extreme state Akathisia.

  2. It was a pleasure to talk about the advocacy work I do. Since its launch on Mad in America, I’ve received many emails requesting for opportunities to write guest posts on my blog. I will answer them all soon.

    In the meantime, can I just reiterate that I accept personal accounts, in the main, about withdrawal effects from SSRIs and SSRI related suicides.

    Obviously, I take these personal accounts at face value and on good faith.

    I think it’s important that people write about their experiences and, hopefully, offering a platform to allow this will help people find a small grain of peace in their lives and also warn others who are contemplating the use of SSRIs.

    Once again, thank you to James and the Mad in America team for allowing me to ‘vent’ via these brilliant series of podcasts.

    Bob Fiddaman

  3. The urge to smile at the GP’s suggestion of a benzo to get through a blood test, was taken away by the fact that akathisia is also condition of benzodiazepine withdrawal. Seen on the British National Formulary as: toxic psychosis. Possibly even more prone to cause akathisia because diazepam (valium ) is prescribed: ‘as needed’ which means if taken for longer than a few weeks the patient will be going into withdrawal and hence will be on the road to higher and higher doses and more and more prone to go from severe anxiety to withdrawal akathisia. If I remember correctly, the insert information blames any addiction on an underlying ‘personality disorder’.

    http://benzo.org.uk/BNF.htm

    “DEPENDENCE AND WITHDRAWAL

    Withdrawal of a benzodiazepine should be gradual because abrupt withdrawal may produce confusion, toxic psychosis, convulsions, or a condition resembling delirium tremens.”

    “Benzodiazepine withdrawal should be flexible and carried out at a reduction rate that is tolerable for the patient. The rate should depend on the initial dose of benzodiazepine, duration of use, and the patient’s clinical response. Short-term users of benzodiazepines (2–4 weeks only) can usually taper off within 2–4 weeks. However, long-term users should be withdrawn over a much longer period of several months or more.”

    • Thanks Fiachra.

      Isn’t it ironic that warning people about the nasty side of these drugs has become a possible life-saving action, when all we seem to hear is the “drugs save lives.”

      I’ve never been one to follow that mantra. I’ve seen and wrote about many people who would probably still be alive today if they had not been prescribed these types of meds.

      I wish this craziness would just stop. I wish Dr’s would wake up and take what their patients have to say as the truth. I wish we had a regulator in place that could show some backbone too.

      Sadly, none of the above will ever be achieved if we just shrug our shoulders at this problem. I guess we all have a duty to keep banging the drum.

  4. The body converts glutamate (major excitatory neurotransmitter) to gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA major inhibitory neurotransmitter) using the active form of B6 and the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase. It is entirely possible – if there is a polymorphism of the enzyme doing this job or the body can not express or use the active form of B6 – a chemical imbalance will happen outside of one which is drug/alcohol induced. This – it seems – does not mean the body will accept any external tinkering about by drugs, clearly it will not.

    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1073858402238515

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutamate_decarboxylase

    https://www.thebalance.com/genetic-polymorphism-what-is-it-375594

  5. Thank you for this outstanding podcast series: Sharing personal experiences and accurate data helps inform, inspire and build collaborative communities of global citizens dedicated to others’ well-being.

    Akathisia is a serious ADR causing much suffering and death. It is buried under the rug by regulators, Pharma, doctors, and “mental health” organizations because if drug consumers knew more about akathisia, they would be less likely to consume. This systemic concealment led to the burial of my child who was destroyed by akathisia and unnecessary prescribing. Since Natalie’s death, I’ve been fortunate to meet dedicated people who productively advocate for drug safety and transparency. Bob is one of these tireless activists and undoubtedly a “rock star” in my book.

    “Mental health” and “suicide prevention” organizations with strong pharma ties don’t want akathisia awareness. They’d prefer to see mothers of dead children buried in grief and shame, hanging our heads on the sidelines wearing a scarlet A for Anonymous. But blogs like Fiddaman’s empower parents to publicly share our blood-stained scarlet A for Akathisia.

    My teen’s prescribed demise is at:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1haYwZGcSRY&t=23s
    https://rxisk.org/kidnapped-natalies-story/
    https://fiddaman.blogspot.com/2016/09/guest-post-lets-bring-akathisia-out-of.html

    • Kristina
      Heartbreaking, with echoes of my own experience but somehow managing to escape the suicide. The doubling down on the ‘medication’ bit seems to be the protocol–where do they get such outlandish advice? The drug reps?

      My mission in life at this point is to educate as many as possible about these horrible drugs. I grieve for all the losses incurred as a result of the profit motive. Isn’t it funny what is considered to be ‘normal’ (profits more important than life)?

    • Thank you Krissy.

      Natalie was a stunningly beautiful young woman of such great intelligence. When I first read your online account on David Healy’s blog I, as you know, commended your writing skills.

      As fate would have it we met and, the rest is history, as they say.

      You’ve been a shining light for me and your courage in the face of adversity serves as a constant reminder to us all that we each, individually, have a part to play in protecting future generations.

      I’m happy we met.
      I’m happy we continue down this road together.

      Much love.

  6. The last two years I have seen more online references to the horrific toxic effects of a drug induced Akathisia. When I was on psyche drugs my extreme Akathisia got diagnosed as mania. I couldn’t sit still, I couldn’t lay down, I paced the floor for hours on end, I couldn’t sleep, I had an internal panic and extreme fear that never abated. I had a chance consultation with a neurologist who diagnosed me with Akathisia and he said it was the worst case he had seen in his entire career as a physician. My prescribing psychiatrist was clueless about drug-induced toxic effects. This opened up a door for me to realize what the psychiatric drugs were doing to me and I made a permanent exit from anything psychiatry.

    Thank you for highlighting Bob’s work. After reading this I went to his blog and enjoyed reading it.

    • Thank you, both, for your kindness and for insightfully sharing this serious ADR, often mislabeled by doctors as an “illness.” Many doctors cannot fathom their own pharmaceutical intervention causes their clients’ avoidable suffering and deaths. But being uninformed, uncaring and/or egotistical should not excuse medical professionals from being held accountable for medical violence and medical manslaughter.

      My 19 year-old died feeling hopeless because she believed her doctor. The doctor led Natalie to believe she was very ill, so ill that the doctor never provided a specific diagnosis. The doctor’s response to akathisia was to increase the cause of akathisia: She directed Natalie–over the phone–to take more Zoloft. Two days of 200mg of Zoloft and Natalie was dead.

      We received no Informed Consent nor did the doctor inform me she increased Zoloft. Since Natalie already had the drug in hand, she merely followed doctor’s advice. The night before Natalie died, she had several symptoms of prescribed akathisia and Serotonin Toxicity. I commented on new changes in behavior (i.e. loss of coordination, change of gait), but not knowing that the drug had been increased, I couldn’t recognize these changes were serious signs of fatal ADRs…

      I have doctors and medical professionals in my family. I am not anti-drug nor anti-doctor. I am simply pro-humanity: Informed Consent is a fundamental human right.

  7. What happened to Natalie is quite similar to what led to my last hospitalization in Ireland, in April 1984. I had been given a first time Long Acting Injection at twice the introductory dose, and released into the community ( – and staff had been warned not to readmit me).

    But when I presented with Acute Akathisia nursing staff did readmit me. After 24 hours the crisis had abated and I left the next day. I finished with Psychiatry after that.

    The policy at the University Hospital I attended, was to deny Adverse Drug Reaction at all costs, including life – while producing supportive Research Papers on behalf of the drug Manufacturers.