Bobby Fiddaman has written an interesting and well written book about his personal experiences taking the antidepressant Seroxat (Paxil, or paroxetine in the US), his struggles with withdrawal, and his work as an advocate raising attention related to the potential side effects of this drug. Fiddaman has a popular blog (Seroxat Sufferers: Stand Up and Be Counted) where he has worked tirelessley to get members of the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA, the equivalent of the FDA in the US) to highlight potential side effects of the drug, most notably the range of cognitive and neurological and psychiatric problems that some people experience coming off the drug, such as himself. Fiddaman highlights the marketing campaign by the maker of Seroxat, GSK and others, to “sell” depression as deficiency of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain (it’s not) and their drug as the cure that will boost serotonin and cure depression (researchers have known for years that this explanation was bogus, but were too cowed by the drug companies to pipe up about it, I guess). He also highlights the revolving door where doctors go from high positions in drug companies, to drug regulatory agencies, and sometimes to academic jobs and then back through the wheel again. Fiddaman’s story is a testament to what health care consumers can achieve when they take charge of their treatments instead of passively following doctors advice without informing themselves about their own healthcare. He highlights the fact that pharmaceutical companies do not always have your best interests at heart (they are there to profit from their medications, after all) and you have to watch out.
By way of disclosure the author has told me on twitter (@dougbremner) that he is reading my latest book The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg in which I describe my experiences as a doctor giving paid speeches for GSK about Paxil as well as working as an expert on drug safety related issues in the courts. He also wrote a blog about the Goose book last year.
I recommend this book for anyone who has personal experiences with antidepressants or depression for themselves or family members, or for more insight into drug regulation and consumer advocacy. The writing is excellent and refreshingly honest.
You can follow the author on twitter @Fiddaman and read more about his book here.