One of the leading researchers and the founder of the Cochrane Collaboration says that many of our most commonly used drugs, from painkillers to antidepressants, are dangerous and are killing us off in large numbers. And yes, Peter Gotzsche is visiting Australia next week.
Does the name Peter Gotzsche rings any bell? Here’s what you need to know about Peter Gotzsche – he’s a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration, the world’s foremost body in assessing medical evidence, arrives in Australia on Monday for a whirlwind speaking tour warning Australians about their use of prescription medications. Peter Gotzsche estimates that 100,000 people in the United States alone die each year from the side-effects of correctly used drugs. Similar figures are not available in Australia, although the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 3000 people died after complications with medical and surgical care in 2012.
Professor Gotzsche, who heads the Nordic Cochrane Centre, said that it’s really remarkable that nobody raises an eyebrow when we kill so many of our own citizens with drugs. You should also know that two of Professor Gotzsche’s biggest targets are antidepressants and the painkillers described as “non-steroidal anti-inflammatories”, such as ibuprofen, diclofenac and celecoxib.
Another, sold under the brand name Vioxx, was withdrawn after it emerged it had caused up to 140,000 cases of serious heart disease in the US alone in the five years it was on the market – during which time its manufacturer, Merck was withholding information about its risks. About half the cases were thought to be fatal.
The famous Professor Peter Gotzsche also says those deaths are only the tip of the iceberg and are representative of a system of drug regulation that simply does not protect patients.Even the name for these drugs, “anti-inflammatory”, is not supported by evidence, he says. He has conducted a clinical trial and review of the evidence that has found there is no proof they reduce inflammation.
Professor Peter Gotzsche said:
“These terms for our drugs are invented by the drug industry. They had a huge financial interest in calling these things anti-inflammatory. It lured doctors into believing that these drugs somehow also had an effect on the disease process and reduced the joint damage.”
Note: in one article, published last year in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, Professor Gotzsche argued our use of antidepressants is causing more harm than good.Professor Peter Gotzsche said as the evidence against drugs such as Valium and Xanax emerged, they have been replaced with antidepressants that are equally as addictive and their side-effects just as dangerous. He also said that this research has showed small benefits over placebos was biased, as it did not properly hide whether patients were in the active or placebo group. You should also know that he said the biggest victims of over-prescription are the elderly. For every 28 elderly people treated for a year with an antidepressant, one will die who would have lived otherwise, from causes including heart attacks, stroke and falls.
Professor Peter Gotzsche said:
“Those who use arthritis drugs are mostly the elderly who are most at risk of dying of a heart attack caused by the drug or a bleeding ulcer. We have a high use of psychiatric drugs by the elderly and we kill an enormous amount of them.These people get shoved in a nursing home and they get aggravated, so they’re knocked out with an antipsychotic drug – it’s very inhumane.”
Freedom-of-information requests lodged by Fairfax Media have shown more than 4 million antidepressant prescriptions a year are recorded for people aged over 67 – twice the rate for young Australians.
Well, the bad thing is that Professor Gotzsche has been criticized for his stance that people should consider slowly going off their antidepressants if they are supported by their doctors in doing so.
Professor Gotzsche also thinks that many doctors mistake withdrawal symptoms for depression, immediately returning patients to their normal medication dose if they experience symptoms, despite the fact antidepressant medications are supposed to take some time to begin working. He said that if you get depressed by lowering the dose and then immediately increase it to the normal dose, you will usually be well in a couple of hours. He also said that if you get better straight away it is withdrawal, not depression.
Peter McGeorge, the director of the St Vincent’s mental health service, said the hospital will host Professor Gotzsche on Thursday “in the spirit of open inquiry”. He said that he has seen people respond dramatically to the use of antidepressants so I’m certainly not opposed to the use of medicine. He also says that we should be very careful – about just seeing medicine as the answer and prescribing it on the smallest indication it might be successful.He also said that many hospitals, including the mental health service at St Vincent’s, now did not accept drug company representatives, and there was increasing interest in other forms of psychological therapies to help people with mental illness.
Professor Gotzsche’s list of what to avoid
You should definitely avoid all antidepressants! Why – because they very likely don’t even work for severe cases of depression
Make sure you also avoid all brain-active drugs in children
You should avoid anti-psychotics and other brain-active drugs for the elderly. (Here’s what you need to know – all psychotropic drugs should be used as little as possible and mostly in very acute situations, as they are very harmful when used long term Anti-dementia drugs, as they very likely don’t work.)
Always avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used for arthritis, muscle pain and headaches, including over-the-counter, low-dose ibuprofen. These drugs should be used as little as possible.
Mammography screening, as it doesn’t prolong life whereas it makes many healthy women ill through over diagnosis and leads to the premature death for some because radiotherapy and chemotherapy increases mortality when used for harmless cancers detected at screening
Make sure you avoid drugs for urinary incontinence, as they very likely don’t work
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