Heartburn pills that cause heart attacks, antidepressants that lead to suicide

Why does Canada trail U.S. and EU in protecting citizens from dangerous meds?

JENNIFER ROBERTS

On Oct. 17, 2012, Terence Young’s tireless 12-year crusade took him before a Senate committee looking into the safety and regulation of prescription drugs in Canada. The Conservative MP for Oakville, Ont., gave the panel an earful. “Doctors and patients have no way to know when a drug is safe and when it is not,” he argued, noting that his own government’s drug monitoring system is “primarily in the hands of the big pharma companies themselves, even as a growing number of injuries and deaths are reported related to their use.”

Young was there not as a politician but as a father seeking to redress colossal systemic failure—a mission dating back to March 19, 2000, the day he watched his 15-year-old daughter Vanessa collapse on the floor at home. She was rushed to hospital, where she died a day later. The cause: cardiac arrest.

None of it made sense. Vanessa was a healthy girl. She didn’t drink or smoke or take drugs— with one exception: over the past year, she had periodically taken cisapride, an acid-reflux drug marketed as Prepulsid. Her doctor, who’d diagnosed her with a minor form of bulimia, prescribed it after she complained of reflux and feeling bloated after meals. Neither their doctor or pharmacist mentioned risks; her parents considered it “super Rolaids.”

But when Young dug deeper, he found cisapride was far more toxic than the heartburn it treated: it was linked to 80 deaths in Canada and the U.S. and had generated a total of 341 “adverse reaction” reports in the two countries. More shocking to the former Ontario MPP, Health Canada knew of these risks: since approving Prepulsid in 1990, the agency, which approves and monitors prescription drugs through its Therapeutic Products Directorate, had sent four letters to doctors, the last in 1998, warning about serious adverse effects, including heart risks in children, women and infants.

Had the family lived in the U.S., Young learned, Vanessa might not have been prescribed cisapride. In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had given it its ominous “black box” warning, an alarm bell that makes doctors far less likely to prescribe a drug. In January 2000, two months before Vanessa died, the FDA issued an advisory alerting doctors of heart attack risks and rewrote label warnings; in April, it announced cisapride would be pulled from the market in July 2000. Health Canada followed suit that May, taking Prepulsid off the market in August.

In 2001, Young marshalled his political connections and demanded an inquest into Vanessa’s death; the 16-day hearing resulted in 59 recommendations, including mandatory reporting of adverse drug reactions by health care professionals and clearer label warnings. A Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) editorial on the inquest’s findings noted Vanessa’s death was “undoubtedly caused by cisapride” and criticized Health Canada’s response as another example of its “advisory and regulatory actions lagging behind the FDA’s.”

Young also launched a $100-million class-action suit, naming Janssen-Ortho Inc., Prepulsid’s marketer, Johnson & Johnson, its parent company, and Health Canada. And he filed an individual suit against all three parties. The six-year battle, settled out of court, is chronicled in his book Death by Prescription: A Father Takes on his Daughter’s KillerThe Multi-Billion Dollar Pharmaceutical Industry, published in 2009.

His journey into the netherworld of Canadian drug surveillance revealed a system structured to serve the interests of the industry it regulates before the public it’s entrusted to protect. Under the “user-fee” model adopted in 1995, drug companies pay to submit a drug for approval and provide the supporting research. The result is an industry-regulator alliance primed to bring drugs to market. Health Canada has an online database listing adverse reactions to drugs. But navigating it is next to impossible, and reporting adverse effects is voluntary for doctors and pharmacists. Even if a drug is found unsafe, the agency lacks the authority to unilaterally revise the label or remove it from market—or order a company to do so.

Young’s quest to improve drug safety spurred his entry to federal politics. In 2009, a year after he was elected, he tabled a private member’s bill calling for an independent drug-monitoring agency with the power to order unsafe drugs off the market and issue plainly worded risk warnings. It won’t be debated until late next year, at the earliest.

Sitting in his constituency office in October, Young expresses incredulity that prescription drugs aren’t regulated as stringently as other public safety threats: “The minister of transportation doesn’t ‘negotiate’ with truckers to keep unsafe vehicles off roads,” he says. By law, doctors must report unfit drivers, and are paid to do so. Fast-tracking drugs to market is like “air-traffic controllers being told to land planes more quickly,” he says. Eleven years after his daughter’s inquest, none of its major recommendations have been implemented, he says: “Nothing has changed since Vanessa died. It has only gotten worse.”

Vanessa Young’s tragic death thrust her into a big, undiscussed demographic: the 10,000-plus Canadians estimated to die each year from a prescription drug taken exactly as prescribed. And that figure is likely a gross understatement: it is extrapolated from a 14-year-old study, led by University of Toronto researchers and published in the April 1998 Journal of the American Medical Association, that found deaths linked to prescription drugs accounted for some 106,000 fatalities annually in the U.S., making it the fourth-leading cause of death, behind cancer, heart disease and stroke. A 2011 Health Council of Canada study additionally estimated that 150,000 people annually experience serious reactions from prescription drugs.

Those numbers are destined to rise given a market growing by $1 billion a year, according to the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI), which estimates that Canadians spend nearly as much on prescription drugs ($26.9 billion) as on doctors. These medications can improve and save lives. But they’re increasingly prescribed from cradle to grave for an expanding list of syndromes, dysfunctions and disorders—infant reflux, ADHD, adult ADD, social anxiety disorder, female sexual arousal disorder—as well as new health “risks” to manage, such as high cholesterol.

When concerns are raised about prescription drugs, they invariably focus on misuse or abuse: sports doping, OxyContin addiction, teenagers taking parents’ pain meds to get high. That more Canadians are harmed or killed by drugs taken as prescribed than by tainted meat, tainted water and handguns combined is not a blip on the public radar.

But this is changing: a growing number of voices are putting the spotlight on the risks of “proper” drug use. At the Senate committee hearing, Janet Currie, a social worker with the Victoria-based Psychiatric Medication Awareness Group, called prescription-drug side effects “one of the most serious public health problems we have.” Physician David Juurlink, a drug-safety expert and scientist with Toronto-based Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, agrees: “It’s an enormous problem,” he says.

Two new books—Pharmageddon, by Irish psychiatrist David Healy, and Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients, by British doctor Ben Goldacre—present scathing critiques of the $800-billion pharmaceutical industry, including evidence of its routine suppression of negative clinical trial results, something Goldacre calls “a global scandal that puts patients at risk.” The issue was raised in British parliament last month as Conservative MP and family doctor Sarah Wollaston accused drug companies of burying bad news about medicines’ effectiveness and side effects.

Meanwhile, the problem continues to grow. The need for change is reflected in a Canadian study that reveals that serious drug dangers are frequently identified after they come to market. Almost one-fifth (19.8 per cent) of 434 new active substances approved by Health Canada between 1995 and 2010 were later given serious safety warnings—some only months after approval—Joel Lexchin, a physician and professor in the school of health policy and management at Toronto’s York University, found. The study, published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine, shows risks are higher for drugs fast-tracked in 180-day “priority reviews” (versus the 300-day norm): 34.2 per cent had serious warnings.

Clinical trial results offer a rosy, unrealistic picture of how a drug works, says Juurlink: “In the real world, we don’t monitor people as closely and we don’t select people as carefully. And we don’t apply the same restrictions to a drug’s use.” No one should think a new drug is safe, he says. “Most are overhyped and brought out to maximize appearance of benefit and minimize harm.” Recognizing this, Britain puts an inverted black triangle on new drugs and advises all adverse reactions be reported, says Lexchin: “It’s an extra indication not a lot is known about safety, so be on the lookout.” Pulling drugs from market is rare. One notorious exception was the arthritis drug Vioxx, fast-tracked in 1999 despite known risks; it was removed in 2004 amid a flood of lawsuits after at least 55,000 deaths worldwide. According to Lexchin, only 55 prescription drugs have been withdrawn in Canada for safety reasons since 1963 (Health Canada doesn’t keep track of this data). In comparison, there were 4,852 prescription drugs on the market as of September 2012; 410 new prescription drugs came to market in 2011.

Far more common is a wallpapering of additional warnings that doctors often can’t keep on top of, or find readily on Health Canada’s website. Champix, a popular smoking-cessation drug, for example, was linked to risk of suicide, heart attacks and angioedema, a life-threatening condition characterized by swelling of the skin—all within a year of its 2007 approval. In May 2010, Health Canada and manufacturer Pfizer released a new safety warning telling users with “neuropsychiatric symptoms or behaviours that are not typical for the patient” to stop taking the drug and talk to their doctor. By then, France had stopped insuring it, and doctors in the U.S. were demanding it be pulled from market. In June 2011, Health Canada announced “an ongoing review” that concluded this year with new “precautions for patients with respect to cardiovascular safety.” Even while under review, Champix ads ran with an upbeat “I did it!” tag line, marketing not allowed in the U.S., where stricter rules surround “black box” drug advertising. As of this month, MedEffect Canada’s database lists 1,940 adverse reaction reports for Champix, including 33 “completed suicides.” Yet it’s covered on the formularies of seven provinces, five of which took it on after June 2011.

Drug side effects can end up triggering a “cascade of risks,” says Alan Cassels, a drug policy researcher and professor at the University of Victoria. He points to cholesterol-lowering drugs, or statins, such as Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor, the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. They’re prescribed to manage heart-attack risk, rather than an actual condition, but come with common side effects—muscle pain, anxiety and Parkinson’s-like symptoms—that lead doctors to prescribe additional drugs, with side effects of their own. Cassels wrote of the accumulated risks in July: “Some day, I suspect, we will regard statins as an unmitigated scandal in medicine.”

Eking out patterns of risk is difficult and can take decades, says Juurlink. A study he led, published in the CMAJ in August, tracked 144 patients aged 66 and older who were admitted to Ontario hospitals with acute liver damage; none had a history of liver disease but all had started taking one of five broad-spectrum antibiotics within the previous 30 days. Eighty-eight—61 per cent—died in hospital. The study, which required nine years of data to confirm a pattern, concluded that two specific antibiotics—moxifloxacin (brand name Avelox) and levofloxacin (Levaquin)—“were associated with an increased risk of acute liver injury” in older people, compared with clarithromycin. Hospital records didn’t provide a cause of death, and nobody would think to associate it with antibiotics, Juurlink says. “But I think it’s fair to speculate that the majority of them died of the consequences of their liver injury.” Risks of undetected prescription drug death is highest in older people, he says.

Because deaths linked to prescription drugs are considered to be from “natural causes” in hospital records and coroners’ reports, they’re impossible to trace. That’s something Terence Young wants to change. In 2009, he appeared before an Ontario committee to ask for a new category of death: “related to a medical treatment including a drug prescribed or otherwise recommended by a medical professional.” He was shot down. Coroners can keep drug-related deaths under the radar, Young says: “It’s a conspiracy of silence. They’ve been content to cover up medical errors and harmful drugs for years.”

Yet to hear Health Canada tell it, Canada’s drug regulatory system is not only competent but world-class. Last month, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq (who declined an interview request from Maclean’s) told the Toronto Star that our drug regulatory system is “one of the safest and most rigorous in the world.”

Many disagree, vehemently. “France and even the United States have regulatory regimes that are much more rigorous and safe,” says Cassels. Juurlink calls Health Canada “a lot of bureaucracy with very little independent action compared to the U.S. and Europe.” The 2011 auditor general’s report criticized the agency for lack of transparency regarding drug approvals, clinical trial data and the status of drugs “approved with conditions,” and for taking years to report safety issues.

The FDA and the European Medicines Agency have made far bigger strides in transparency. In 2010, the FDA adopted “plain language” labelling, something Health Canada has talked about for a decade. The value of clarity is evident in the U.S. monograph for antidepressant Paxil: it refers to “suicidality” at the top in bold type in a black box, plus “risk of increased suicidality” in people under 24 and “the need for close observation.” The Canadian version only starts mentioning anything relating to suicide on page six of its 55 pages.

Extracting information from Health Canada is an exercise in frustration. Drug company information is protected as commercial “trade secrets,” which means it’s withheld from the public. Health Canada spokesperson Sean Upton said many of Maclean’s questions (such as, “How many drugs were approved under ‘priority review’ in 2011?”) would require access to information requests, which can take years, and yield nothing—although he responded a month later saying there were eight. The FDA has the corresponding information on its website, for all to see. Asked what Health Canada did with “adverse effect” reports, Upton responded with boilerplate: they are “systematically monitored to identify rare, new or unexpected adverse reactions,” he said.

Juurlink says that’s a joke. Post-market monitoring of drugs is “a national embarrassment,” he says, calling MedEffect an “electronic dumpster.” As a trained pharmacist, he has trouble navigating it, unlike the FDA’s site. And if reporting of adverse effects by health care professionals was mandatory, as it is in France, Sweden, Spain and Norway, he says, we’d have better data. Cassels estimates 90 to 99 per cent of adverse reactions are never reported.

The lack of transparency runs through the entire drug-approval chain. The FDA, for instance, reveals what clinical trial data was used to support a drug’s approval; Health Canada doesn’t. “It might get a dozen studies and three are favourable and that will be the basis of the approval, but they won’t tell you,” Cassels says. Instead, the agency releases a “summary document” that omits key elements, Lexchin says. “They don’t tell you what trials were submitted, what information confirmed safety and efficacy, the number of people in the trials, the number of subjects who dropped out due to bad side effects.” Data on dropouts is crucial, he says; they’re the first indication that safety problems exist.

Such opacity keeps doctors in the dark, says Matthew Herder, a lawyer and professor at Dalhousie University’s faculty of medicine. In an article published in the CMAJ last year, Herder cites Health Canada’s failure to publicly disclose in 1999 that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants were not authorized to be given to people under 19. By 2004, he notes, SSRIs were widely prescribed “off-label” for teens by physicians who hadn’t been apprised of the risks. Health Canada later claimed the information constituted “confidential” trade secrets, and so couldn’t be divulged by the agency. (“There are no legal boundaries preventing disclosure,” Herder told Maclean’s.)

Health Canada trails regulators in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Brazil and India, who have made registering clinical trials mandatory, a bid to prevent companies from burying negative data. Last month, it announced it was setting up a “web-based list” of Canadian clinical trials—which drew criticism that registration still isn’t mandatory.

“It’s a dysfunctional system,” says physician and pharmacologist Michele Brill-Edwards, who headed Health Canada drug approvals between 1987 and 1992 and quit in 1996 after blowing the whistle on the agency’s suppression of prescription drug risks; she won a 1992 federal court case against her employer. Industry influence only grew as Health Canada switched to the user-fee model in 1995, Brill-Edwards says. Even the language is telling. Internal emails from the period refer to the industry as “the client,” and the job once done by the Health Protection Branch now fell to the mercantile-sounding Marketed Health Products Directorate. A regulator biased to industry interests puts patients at risk, Brill-Edwards says: “The industry’s quest is to get that drug out there and get it used as much as possible. But the more widely we use a drug, the greater the risk that we’re going to end up giving it to people for wrong reasons in ways that will harm them.”

Canada’s small market is a disadvantage when negotiating with industry, she says: “The FDA has a far bigger stick.” But a strong health minister could do it, she says: “You could demand plain-language labelling. They’re already doing it for the U.S. market.”

Drugs produced primarily in offshore factories add another layer of risk, says Cassels, who wrote on the topic in the October 2012 CMAJ. He asked Health Canada about how it monitors this, only to be told it conducted 35 inspections from 2006 to 2011; the agency wouldn’t say which countries were involved or reveal its findings, citing proprietary trade secrets. “That’s a bulls–t excuse,” Cassels says. “Whose team are they on?” He’s doubtful the agency is up to the task, especially after recent budget cuts: “If they can’t or won’t regulate drug advertising, what’s the chance they’ll go to the backwaters of China?”

For now, the task of advocating for better drug regulation continues to fall to those, like Young, whose advocacy is born of tragedy. In November 2010, Nancy and Shaun McCartney’s 18-year-old son, Brennan, went to their family doctor in Bolton, Ont., with a chest cold. The extroverted high school student mentioned feeling sad over breaking up with a girl he’d been seeing for three months. He left with a script for an antibiotic, a puffer— and a sample pack of Cipralex, an SSRI antidepressant. Nancy, a high school vice-principal, expressed concern; Brennan had no history of depression. He assured her the doctor said it would help. On the fourth day taking it, Brennan seemed agitated when he left the house, his mother says. He failed to come home. The next day his body was found. He had hung himself in a local park.

Sitting at their kitchen table, Nancy flips through a binder documenting systemic failure. Brennan wasn’t given the full drug monograph that mentions suicide risk; the sample pack (she has the brochure) notes only “self-harm.” There’s also correspondence with the coroner’s office denying the McCartneys’ request for a toxicology scan. They’ve sent a forensic sample to Australia. “We’ve lost trust in the Canadian health care system,” Nancy says. “Until people have been in our shoes,” says Shaun, “they can’t understand how bad the system is.”

Even their attempts to warn other Canadians about the drug they believe caused their son’s death have been thwarted. After Nancy submitted an adverse-reaction report in April 2012, she noticed a typo on her entry so she called the Vigilance Branch requesting a correction. She also asked for an updated copy. She was told she’d have to file an access to information request. Seven months later, anyone searching Cipralex on MedEffect would find 317 reports, including five “completed suicides,” 12 “suicide attempts” and many references to “suicidal ideation,” but not McCartney’s submission. When Maclean’s asked Health Canada why, Upton responded by email weeks later, saying the entry is in the database, providing a screen grab. Yet subsequent searches using the same terms failed to find it.

“It’s a lot easier to access the system from the inside,” Upton explained. He’s right. And until it isn’t, Canadians shouldn’t believe that our drug-regulatory system is one of the “safest and most rigorous” in the world.

Heartburn pills that cause heart attacks, antidepressants that lead to suicide

  1. Maybe we need to pull back from government intervention in every part of our lives. Maybe then we will take some responsibility for our own decisions and just laugh at the ‘nut’ lady who wants to cut down out trees because some children may be injured.

    • Go live in the US, jackass.

  2. This is a bit of a shocker. We have indeed been led to believe that Canada has a more rigorous drug-screening and reporting regimen than the US or many other countries. The mandate of Health Canada must be explicitly changed to put patient safety first-and-foremost in its list of duties.

  3. I agree in that Canada has a more rigorous screening process than the States. Isn’t that why we are so far behind in drugs than the States? We have to think about the lives we are trying to save- some of the drugs we use prevent one in 8 heart attacks!!

  4. or just take sum marijuana an heal naturally and not have your left nut fall off cause you took some cold medication

    • If you investigated the effects of marijuana, you’d discover that certain people can suffer adverse effects from it, too. Being one of those people, I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.

      • Only by smoking marijuana can you possibly have adverse effects from it. It should be ingested raw but preferably in a highly concentrated form, to feel the benefits from its medicinal value. This is the truth that they don’t want you to know.

  5. hey synthetic heroin thats all good to take the govt said so….no profit in an easy cure anyone can grow lots of profit keeping you sick an jacked up on pills

  6. Drug companies would make a good election issue .Europe & US seem to have a better warning system then Canada . Do we need stronger Health leadership ? Do we need to check with European& US Regulators ,before we take a new prescription . Apparently we need to take responsibility for ourselves or suffer the results .

  7. Yes but it is the Truth..I know because I have worked in the natural health industry for years and our job is to help people who have been damaged from drugs. I heard Terrance Young speak on Power Health radio his story is tragic…but this happens everyday and Canadians seem to be oblivious….watch Generation RX..the doc about the drugging of our children…this has become an epidemic….everyone is addicted to LEGAL drugs…we are not deficient in Paxol or Valium…..this is called the Business of Disease….and makes a great deal of money.
    How many Canadians know about Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate created in 2004, where our once safe, zero deaths natural supplements always considered a FOOD are now Drugs under the Food and Drug Act….we have lost thousands of products and more being banned everyday….this is done by force..gun drawn raids by the RCMP, NAPRA and Health Canada..go to http://www.naturalhealthfreedomcanada.com and support the new lawsuit against Health Canada..if you believe in freedom please support NHFC. This is going on all over the world in the EU they are losing many safe herbs and supplements.

    • It’s a no-brainer that food and drugs don’t belong in the same legislation.
      The stats. from the U.S. are that prescription drugs kill and maim hundreds of thousands of people annually. The highest percentage of emergency room visits are due to adverse reactions from properly prescribed drugs. Legal prescription drugs kill more people than illegal street drugs.
      It’s not health care. It’s sick care.

  8. An amazing and heartbreaking story. As much as I dislike this CPC gov’t, I wish Terrence Young all the best in his quest to establish a Canada wide independent prescription drug watchdog. His mistrust of the system is well founded. Health Canada is not doing its job…

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/11/20/canadas-drug-problems/

    Just like with that little problem that XL Beef had not long ago, it was the US food inspectors that raised the problem first. This has also been the case with Canadian drugs exported to the US. Mr. Young is right – this is a difficult subject to tackle because Canadians think they have one of the best healthcare systems in the world (just like Health Canada would like you to believe) but it’s not.

    Canada’s own Big Pharma are just as sleazy as any of the players in the US. In the US they slap these rogues with $billion fines. In Canada, we help build their hockey arenas.

    http://sontag.ca/kill-bill-398/free-aid-everyone

  9. There are a number of misconceptions presented in this article:

    Access to information requests do not take years, and they yield whatever the request is for. If you’re going to present such subjective rhetoric as fact, you should do a bit of homework first.

    “adverse effect” reports are monitored by a post-market directorate that assess whether a signal is present.

    It should be pointed out that although big pharma conduct clinical trials to support the safety and efficacy of a product, these are limited in that perhaps only a few thousand people are enrolled in these trials, but when the product is approved and hits the market, that’s when the biggest test of the safety occurs. You don’t have to be a math whiz to see that a few thousand isn’t going to give you nearly as accurate a picture of the safety profile as tens of thousands of patients. The US having a larger population gives them an advantage in that they would be able to detect safety issues sooner. this is something that the author has overlooked.

  10. I am not too surprised. The Drug Companies should be on Trial for being so stringent on the way they almost force Doctors to push their Product. My regular Doctor was away and I was shunted off to a Substitute Doctor. Instead of giving me the Drug my own Doctor had Prescribed, he substituted it. My original Drug was for muscle relaxation and sleep-aid. I was substituted with a Drug which was for treating Psychosis: where the Hell is the connection here? I lived in a state shock for over a month as this Drug took over my body and made whatever changes to my body and my Health which it wished, so be careful when your own Doctor is not available!

  11. My boyfriend takes Paxil. As far as I can tell, from what the doctors have told him, he is completely and 100% dependent on it for the rest of his life. They say that if he tries to wean himself off of it, his brain probably won’t be able to compensate by producing the necessary chemicals (that the pills replace) on its own. I have seen him when he has missed a pill, and he is a very different, unhappy, and paranoid person, just in the few hours that he hasn’t been dosed. It is very disturbing to think that one stupid little pill can ruin a person like this, and that the government just allows this kind of thing to be distributed. What if for some reason, we just ran out of all the SSRI’s? Would he go completely insane? Would he kill himself?

    A few years ago, I mentioned that I was feeling a little depressed to my doctor, and one of the first things that she jumped to do was prescribe an SSRI (I forget which). To think that if I hadn’t been weirded out by the lengthy list of side-effects listed in the booklet that I might be taking these and dependent on them is horrifying.

    There are so many alternative therapies to help people that really, nobody should be on drugs for their mental problems (of course, I mean the “small” mental problems, like feeling stressed at work, or feeling socially awkward or depressed. Bipolar disorder or schizophrenia are in a totally different league).

    Of course, all these little pills are very expensive, so I think that must have something to do with their becoming normalized and something acceptable in modern society.

    • Tell you boyfriend to look into cannabis oil, I have a feeling it might help him.

      • Is that a legal thing, or would I have to get creative in order to get a hold of some? Is it different from just plain ol’ cannabis s. and cannabis i.?

  12. Why do we accept this? Doctors – drug companies are getting away with murder…and we stand by and ignore the truth…..open your eyes…
    I was shocked about the NHPD and the loss of natural health products…

  13. I believe that psychotropic medications should only be prescribed by psychiatrists who can monitor and interpret the effects of these drugs on each patient. There is no doubt they can be beneficial in certain cases.

  14. 100,000′s if not millions of Canadians have been helped in their usage of anti-depressants including SSRIs like Cipralex.
    Do depressed people commit suicide? I’d say an overwhelming majority of suicides are caused by depression. To blame the anti-depressents as the cause is a huge exaggeration. Imagine how many there would be if these medications didn’t help…thousands probably!
    Let’s not put the horse before the cart in this totally one sided article.

    • Antidepressants can enable suicide in anxious or depressed individuals. There needs to be better regulation, information, awareness of adverse and paradoxical effects, and patient monitoring. As this and many similar articles certify, the system is skewed away from the safety and public interest of Canadians and towards BigPharma.

  15. We have duped. On 60 Minutes, drug companies couldn’t even identify what labs in China manufacture their medications, nor do they oversee what is coming out of them. A pharmaceutical executive became a whistelblower after seeing dangerous mix-ups in a North American lab, and having her reports ignored by the company. No wonder people die from ‘correct’ use of medications. Not only are chemicals much more powerful substances than the ‘happy’ people on the drug commercials may reveal, but the companies that many consumers trust to deliver these drugs, care very little to guarantee the substances are even the correct chemical make-up.

    Back in the 70′s I read drug trials where the rats died continually during the trial, but the drug company reported at the end of the trial, no adverse effects were noted.

    Common sense has flown the coop as they say.

    The pharmaceutical lobby is powerful and wealthy. They like to portray non-chemically derived (note:cheaper) substances as dangerous, to government health departments. When in fact, they will not render the user dead upon use of said substance, it is only for an increase in the pharmaceutical company’s profit they request a natural health product should be removed from the marketplace.

    Beware the modern snake oil salesman – he ain’t lurking in the health food store, he is clothed in a white lab coat on the television, asking, “Do you have social anxiety…well this (calm sounding name) could be for you. Ask your (over-worked, hounded by pharmaceutical sales people) doctor.

    Natto is now on the chopping block. It is prescribed by doctors in Japan. But, in Canada it is too dangerous for us. It is derived from fermented soy. It has killed no one. But, it chews through blood clots safely.

    Ask Health Canada why are we to be saved from this natural remedy?

  16. canada’s Drug Manufacturing Cartel Manufacture and Sell Dangerous Fatal Drugs with Impunity, The Government and Health Canada, are Hopelessly Helpless, because the Drug Companies are too Rich, and Powerful to Control!

  17. The drug companies only use test and research results that indicate the drug is Beneficial, and Safe, but actual results that when used over a period of 2 years, Serious and irreversible Damage occurs. and the only resort of victims, are Class Action Lawsuits!
    See Zocor Class Action, Etc.

  18. i do believed that canada was safe for our drugs instead health canada is nothing more than drug company puppet they targeting health foods as dangerous as it cant be patented
    yet allow drugs be given to young people. My 17 year old son was prescribed paxil after he had a physcotic break resulting in him seeing things and hearing voices at high school and attacking his dad with a two by four trying to killing and the police were called we were informed that PAXIL is NEVER NEVER supposed to be given to teens this from a trauma nurse who had just moved here from the states what was a trial to treat headaches caused unbelievable harm he was destroyed socially and now is a high risk for other mental illness please do your own research

  19. I am a natural health manufacture. I have had nothing but grief from Health Canada. They don’t have time to regulate presciption meds, because they are to busy trying to ruin every natural health product producer. They don’t care if they work and there are no side effects, but they want to close down all of the natural products, because the big phama companies can’t get product formula protection for a “natural product”. Just try to get a natural health product #. I have been trying for 5 years and I either forget to cross a T or dot an I. They won’t give you one. You will never believe the run around you get when you call Health Canada. I was called once right after I bought my company and was told to recall all my products, shut down my web page, and couldn’t sell one of my products and the rest needed a NHP#. When I asked if someone had gotten sick because of the product, I was told no, I tried to pursue why I was be closed down, the gentleman from Health Canada told me it was an abratary decision, I asked him what he meant, and he told me “Because I can!”. That was his excuse for shutting my business down. He could care less that my product worked and had been working for hundreds of years and NO one every died from my product, even if you overdose.

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