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Retraction Reaction

Under threat of lawsuit, The Coast apologizes for two words

by Justin Ling

Retraction Reaction

The Coast is sorry.

 
Faced with allegations of defamation, political bias and being a Scientologist, news editor Tim Bousquet was forced to retract his story about Halifax's Liberal candidate, a popular antidepressant and a study that's been blackballed in the medical community.
 
And all because of two words.
 
A mere five days before the May 2 election, Bousquet published a story about candidate Stan Kutcher. In the story, Bousquet quoted author Alison Bass, stating that Kutcher and the research team “essentially lied" about a controversial drug study that took place in 1992.
 
That didn't sit well with Kutcher.
 
Coast editor Kyle Shaw posted a to the website that read, “The Coast referenced, without limitation or criticism, statements to the effect that, Dr. Kutcher, being one of the authors of a research paper, distorted the outcome measures and essentially lied.”
 
And with that, the original article was erased from the internet. 
 
The story itself was a 800 word 'News Bite' briefly detailing Kutcher's involvement in study 329, a clinical trial of Paxil - an antidepressant drug made by pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline. Aside from the offending assertion that Kutcher all-but-lied, Bousquet mostly deals with the controversy around the study. Bousquet barely delves into Kutcher's involvement in 329.
 
Kutcher is quoted, however, as saying that there was no real controversy over the study. He acknowledges a group of people had spoken out about it, but chalks it up to science being “nasty, brutish and long.” 
 
THE DRUG
 
The story is indeed a long one.
 
In 1992, Kutcher, along with doctors across North America, conducted a study on the efficacy and safety of Paxil, coming to the controversial conclusion that;
 
“[Paxil] is generally well tolerated and effective for major depression in adolescents.”
 
And by the peak of 2003, Paxil was the most popular anti-depressant in America. That success is due, in part, to Dr. Kutcher.
 
Bass' book, Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial, tells the story of Paxil, and how the New York Attorney's office unearthed suppressed information about the drug. 
 
Bass says that GlaxoSmithKline manipulated data in order to make Paxil a “blockbuster drug.” She lays much of the blame on the head doctor on the study, Martin Keller. The company wanted to market the drug to teenagers and children, so they commissioned a series of studies to convince doctors and regulators to prescribe the drug to youth. 
 
According to her research, the drug company didn't get the results they wanted. Not wanting to miss a marketing opportunity, she says that the company and the doctors hid data showing that Paxil was less effective than a Placebo in treating depression in adolescents. Worse yet, she asserts that it drove teenagers to thoughts of suicide. Five times as many youth had “serious psychiatric effects” on Paxil. Worse yet, she argues, some of those teens that became suicidal were removed from the study and their reactions weren't properly categorized in the study.
 
Keller himself admitted in a letter that, “10 experienced psychiatric symptoms, including...suicidal ideation," but blames it not on the drug, but instead on. “a variety of situational factors,” such as “arguments with boyfriend and parents [and] torment by peers.”
 
The study records no patients in Halifax that experienced extreme adverse reactions while taking Paxil under Kutcher's supervision.
 
According to an internal email obtained by the BBC, GSK executives were well aware that Paxil wasn't performing.
 
"Essentially the study did not really show it was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicize," reads the memo.
 
That conclusion was reached by numerous peer-reviewed journals and by the New York attorney general, who led a class-action lawsuit that accused GSK of misrepresenting Paxil. 
 
Not content with the report, GSK hired PR consultant Sally Laden to ghost-write the study. In a deposition for a Californian court, she says that most doctors weren't involved in the process. However, a handful were “very very involved.”
 
She says that one of those involved in writing the report was Dr. Kutcher. And, according to numerous medical journals, the study they wrote came to a conclusion that was not reflective of the data.
 
Kutcher was also involved in study 377. The results were dismal, showing that Paxil was no better than sugar for treating depression in youth. While 329 was subject to a market-friendly makeover, 377 was suppressed by the drug company. It didn't see the light of day until the New York district attorney's office forced GSK to release it.
 
377 discloses each author's involvement in the pharmaceutical industry. Of Kutcher, it lists that he had been a paid consultant for GlaxoSmithKline. It also says that he had "received research grants from, has been a consultant for, or participated on advisory boards of" pharmaceutical heavy-weights GSK, Pfizer, Eli Lilly. He disclosed nine drug companies in total.
 
THE RETRACTION
 
The matter had been largely put to rest. Both the FDA and Health Canada recommend against prescribing Paxil to anyone under the age of 18. In a GSK-submission to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry published this year, the company admits that Paxil may increase suicidal thoughts in both adolescents and adults.
 
The Coast didn't mention study 377, Kucher's role as a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline nor the doctor's involvement in writing 329.
 
Despite that, the Liberal campaign team jumped on the story within hours of its being released. In a letter published online, Layton Dorey, president of the Halifax Liberal riding association, defended Kutcher and 329. He cites the doctor's background as an "international leader in the field of adolescent mental health” and attacked Coast author Tim Bousquet as being out of his depth.
 
The letter goes after Bass' credibility with guilt-by-assocation, stating that she is one of the most cited authors by the Citizens' Commission on Human Rights - a Scientology-sponsored group that questions the safety of the mental health field.
 
“I'm not a Scientologist ... I have never been a Scientologist. It's a very silly accusation. I'm an investigative journalist,”  Bass says. “It's a very sad indictment of the people around Dr. Kutcher that they would stoop to such levels."
 
Dorey's letter concludes that due to the Coast's use of “inflammatory innuendo" and because the story may harm Kutcher's reputation, the candidate would launch defamation suit against the paper.
 
The harsh reaction raised the eyebrows of many, as the sticking point appeared to be the “essentially lied.” 
Normally journalists would be permitted to quote a reasonable opinion such as that, but many protections that writers receive under the Defamation Act go out the window within five days of an election.
 
The whole ordeal garnered barely an afterthought in Nova Scotia's largest newspaper, the Chronicle Herald. The story, focusing mainly on the retraction and Kutcher's problems with missing election signs, makes no mention of the allegations or Paxil.
 
Local tabloid Frank Magazine, undaunted by the looming threat of a lawsuit, wrote that Kutcher was “full of shit” and proceeded to detail the study's sordid reputation amongst medical journals.
 
THE REACTION
 
With appropriate irony, the day The Coast retracted the Kutcher story, a conference was being held in Toronto dealing with the ethical issues around ghost-writing.
 
“Everyone that night was talking about Stan Kutcher.” Says Paul Thacker, investigator with the Washington-based Project On Government Oversight.
 
According to Thacker, the room was incredulous that someone so involved in 329 could consider defending it. He, like many other experts and bloggers who follow the pharmaceutical industry, are amazed that the issue is still up for debate. There no longer appears to be any defense of these studies.
 
“That study is the classic example of corrupt medical research,” he says. “there’s nothing in [the Coast] story that's factually inaccurate.” And points out that a wealth of information on the story is available readily on Google.
 
Thacker argues that Kutcher should take responsibility for the study.
 
“If you’re signing your name on the study, you must be agreeing with what the results are,” he says.

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1312 words

Comments

Kutcher symbol of corporate greed and corruption

Stan Kutcher used a loop-hole law to bully the <i>Coast</i> and force them into a lawsuit for the article. If the election rules weren't part of this picture, the article could have remained.

 

The key point to note is that Kutcher wanted to repress the story about his connection with Paxil 329 the same way that the study hid data from the public. Any candidate that wants something hidden from the public should cause concern, and frankly the fact that Kutcher <i>is</i> a co-author of Paxil 329 and wanted to bury the connection again shows the arrogance that many psychiatrists and doctors connected with pharmaceutical company studies have.

 

The fact that Kutcher remains working with teens in the mental health field in Canada is alarming considering his background with one of the most notorious, ghostwritten and scandalous studies out there. The study should be retracted, not the <i>Coast</i> article.

 

How many innocent teens were prescribed Paxil/Seroxat as a result of the data results in Paxil 329? If the study was published with honest data that eventually would come out that GSK's Paxil is connected to suicidal thinking/behaviors in teens, many innocent children might not have had life-changing and horrifying experiences on the antidepressant.

 

Anyone who signs their name to a published study knows what's going on and if they claim they don't then their credibility should be questioned.

 

http://pogoarchives.org/m/ph/sally-laden-sti-deposition-20070315.pdf 

 

see pp329/360 deposition of Sally Laden (ghostwriter of PAXIL 329) pabgppage 359/360 pa

This is horribly written.

This is horribly written.

Clinically No Better than Placebo

The common denominator with these drugs is that they are clinically no better than placebo!

 

When matched against placebo (sugar pills) that are colored, marked, and made to resemble real drugs, it's tough for them to beat placebo... AFTER half the data is never published, never sees the light of day....

 

When a "side effect" is added to the placebo, tossed into the mix, the placebo has been known to out-perform these drugs!

 

Even though they don't work, they are hardly inert... Their effects are strong, causing great injury to the vast majority of people who take them.

 

Some good links on this page -

 

http://discoverandrecover.wordpress.com/warning

 

Duane Sherry, M.S.

 

 

Psychiatry: Neither Safe Nor Helpful

Unfortunately, this incident is typical of the suppressive and authoritarian tendencies of biological psychiatry.  According to Psychiatrist and psychiatric reformer Dr. Peter Breggin, who is opposed to psychiatric drugs, electroshock, involuntary and coercive "treatment" and unproven biochemical and genetic theories about so-called "mental illness":

"Biological psychiatrists - who comprise the majority of today's psychiatrists - tend to react in a very suppressive manner to those who oppose them, including dissidents in their field.  They ostracize their critics and have been known to drive them from their positions in schools or other institutions.  This behavior is consistent with the authoritarian and controlling approaches they are taught during their training...To gain the enmity of a biological psychiatrist in a professional institution...is to risk one's job and career." (Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications; Peter R. Breggin and David Cohen, p.p 226-27)

Regarding anti-depressants themselves, Breggin calls them "useless toxic garbage" adding that if drug companies and biological psychiatrists were honest, they would call them "depressants" and have them taken off the market!

According to Breggin, and based on 30+ years of research and his own clinical experience, so-called anti-depressants typically turn garden variety depression into agitated depression, a potentially dangerous condition which can lead to suicidality (suicidal thinking and behavior, including actual suicide) and/or aggression (self-explanatory) sometimes leading to additional problems such as criminal charges and/or incarceration in a psychiatric facility.

Regarding Paxil, Breggin states "The [US-government Food and Drug Administration's] own analysis...found that Paxil was the most dangerous in regard to causing suicide attempts...[I]n regard to Paxil, in adults of all ages and in all psychiatric disorders, there was a statistically significant increase in suicidality...[emphasis in original]; (Brain Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry: Drugs, Electroshock, and the Psychopharmaceutical Complex; Peter R. Breggin, p. 129).

Please note that this is in regard to adults: when Paxil is given to children and adolescents with their still developing brains and minds, the adverse effects may be even worse.  Unfortunately, as this article illustrates, adverse effects are most often attributed to other factors by pro-drug psychiatrists and researchers.  In clinical practice, this often results in the patient being prescribed additional and/or different drugs which may lead to the worsening of their condition.

The wide scale infliction of toxic psychiatric drugs on children and adolescents has been correctly termed "medicalized child abuse" by Peter Breggin and others.  The fact that Doctors like Kutcher are hailed as "experts" in the treatment of vulnerable adolescents with mental health problems should send a chill up anybody's spine.  Unfortunately, in our society where even progressives and radicals often suspend critical judgment when dealing with people in white coats who have the magical letters "MD" after their names, trust in Doctors, particularly psychiatrists, can be dangerous to your health.

While Psychiatrists, largely due to their training (see below) tend to be arrogant control freaks more interested in pushing drugs than talking, most GP/Family Doctors (in my limited experience) are well-meaning folk who genuinely care for their patients.  These days, most psychiatric drugs are prescribed by our primary care Doctors, the vast majority of whom have neither the time nor inclination to undertake major research projects about every new psychiatric drug, such as Paxil or Seroquel (the latter an anti-psychotic and latest drug de jour for all manner of "mental disorders" in much the same way as SSRI "anti-depressants" [Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, etc.] were some 20 years ago).  Doctors tend to rely on drug company salespersons or drug company-funded Continuing Education courses and similar forms of "information"/marketing to stay current on the latest treatments.  And even if they were to undertake a minor (or major) research project: "Almost without exception, doctors who specialize in knowing about psychiatric drugs are the worst possible sources of unbiased scientific information about drugs...And if they are really respected in their field, they are listening to all the money they are getting from the drug companies to put their name on drug-company-authored papers, to give seminars, and generally to lend their name to company products and profits.  Who aren't these 'experts' listening to?  Their patients." (Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide, and Crime; Peter R. Breggin,  p. 283).

However, toxic drugs are merely a symptom of a wider "disorder", that of biological psychiatry, otherwise known as authoritarian psychiatry, the training for which psychiatrist Breggin aptly describes:

"Psychiatrists as a group are much more controlling, authoritarian, and emotionally distant than other...mental health professionals...These tendencies...are reinforced by their training in clinics and mental hospitals, where they are taught to exert power and authority over patients and other professionals and where they learned to lock up people against their will, to administer electroshock, to write orders for solitary confinement and restraint, to control every aspect of the patient's daily routine, to prescribe toxic drugs while denying their devastating adverse effects, and to generally maintain an authoritarian and distant relationship with their patients." (Your Drug May Be Your Problem, Breggin and Cohen, p. 226).

In the final analysis, psychiatry is neither safe nor helpful and whatever "success" and power it currently enjoys has more to do with power, profits and politics than medicine and science.

 

While the author of the

While the author of the original story isn't a Scientologist, this is comment is certainly by CCHR aka Scientology. (No one else would cite Peter Breggin.)

corruption defenders

Interesting that every time criminal pharmaceutical industry corruption & the notorious doctors behind this dangerous trillion dollar scam are brought out into the light of day; their corporate PR minions pull the tired old scientology demon card out of their dirty linen closet.

Anyone would have to be a complete fool or in bed with the industry to defend or play apologist for the corrupted science and the criminal corporate activity behind this ominous wave of untrustworthy medical endeavors.

You don't have to do must research to find that all (and much much more information about big Pharma Crimes and these corrupted "liars" for hire Doctors) of the claims used in this article are evidence based and totally validated. Stan Kutcher won't speak to these allegations because he knows the evidence speaks for itself. His political career is over, he's gone underground, and that big bucks KOL medical career standing is now very much in Jeopardy.

Kutcher is a branded political poison, and an embarrassment to the Liberal Party in Canada (not that they are any strangers to corruption).

Of course there are always those ignorant kool-aid drinkers that will hang on and deny truth no matter what.... They tend to use these kinds of cult oriented smear tactics and ridiculous propaganda methods as a regular part of their lame disgruntled attempt at self affirmation.

corruption defenders

Interesting that every time criminal pharmaceutical industry corruption & the notorious doctors behind this dangerous trillion dollar scam are brought out into the light of day; their corporate PR minions pull the tired old scientology demon card out of their dirty linen closet.

Anyone would have to be a complete fool or in bed with the industry to defend or play apologist for the corrupted science and the criminal corporate activity behind this ominous wave of untrustworthy medical endeavors.

You don't have to do must research to find that all (and much much more information about big Pharma Crimes and these corrupted "liars" for hire Doctors) of the claims used in this article are evidence based and totally validated. Stan Kutcher won't speak to these allegations because he knows the evidence speaks for itself. His political career is over, he's gone underground, and that big bucks KOL medical career standing is now very much in Jeopardy.

Kutcher is a branded political poison, and an embarrassment to the Liberal Party in Canada (not that they are any strangers to corruption).

Of course there are always those ignorant kool-aid drinkers that will hang on and deny truth no matter what.... They tend to use these kinds of cult oriented smear tactics and ridiculous propaganda methods as a regular part of their lame disgruntled attempt at self affirmation.

While it is true that

While it is true that accusations of Scientology are sometimes carelessly tossed about, I stand by my assertion that the post I responded to was from CCHR.

Another given in debates on Psychiatry is that anyone who points out the elephant in the room will be accused of being a paid minion of "big pharma".

The Scientology Strawman

I'm not sure what "elephant" in the room "Anonymous in Toronto" is pointing out, but as the person who initially made the post in question, I can state with 100 per cent certainty that I am not a Scientologist, nor are my criticisms of psychiatry informed by Scientology.  Rather, I am one of the "ex-consumers who have been abused by psychiatry" which is why, starting about 3 years ago, I started to "look for answers".  And yes, I have found some of those answers in the writings of psychiatric reformers like Peter Breggin.  I have also found them in books such as Doctoring The Mind: Is Our Treatment of Mental Illness Really Any Good? by British Clinical Psychology Professor Richard P. Bentall (who in a Guardian interview quipped that psychiatric patient's experience of "treatment" often consisted of being "disrespected and drugged to the eyeballs by arrogant people in suits"). 

I could cite other sources, but why bother?  People who set up the Scientology strawman are not interested in debating the issues on their merit, but only in trying to smear those who think differently with baseless allegations of links to Scientology.

For the record, I do not even know what "CCHR" is and about the only things I know about Scientology is that it's been the subject of some great South Park episodes, is considered a cult by the government of Germany and that Actors Tom Cruise, John Travolta and the late Issac Hayes (who voiced the character 'Chef' on South Park) are/were adherents.

As for pro-psychiatry types being "paid minions of big pharma", I do not make baseless allegations about people I don't even know.  Besides, there are already enough people willing to shill for psychiatry for free!

And who cares if the comment is by a scientologist?

Who cares if the comment was made by a scientologist? Is there a rule that scientologists can't be right or that CCHR doesn't have valid points? I have read stuff by Peter Breggin and I know nothing about scientology. There are a lot of ex-consumers out there who have been abused by psychiatry and they want answers. I am more leary of the rah-rah pro-psychiatry people.

Hello to all the Scientologists Trolling this Article

Hi Guys, Yeah, I can tell you're here by the terms you use - like "suppressive."  Too bad L. Ron Hubbard didn't scientifically test his "Modern Science of Mental Health" like the pharmaceutical industry has to test its products. He made claims that his therapy would result in the state of  "Clear" whereby all psychosomatic ills would be "erased" and the person would have complete eidetic memory. But what do you know - he never offered actual peer reviewed scientific proof of his claims. Can you spell "SCAM?" I thought you could. Yet you guys have to gall criticize real scientists in the real world of hard science. There's a big difference between actual science and fake science like "Dianetics The Modern 'Science' of Mental Health."  With no scientific proof to back up his claims, Hubbard essentially lied.

Who cares about L. Ron

Who cares about L. Ron Hubbard? What has scientology got to do with this story? Is that the best you could come up with? There are plenty of individuals (and groups) who question the abuse of power and the corruption that sometimes happens within the realm of psychiatry.

I would be more interested in hearing Kutcher's defence of the study in question.

Kutcher

I would love to hear Kutcher's take on the story as well. He refused to speak to me about the article and instead had me directed to his lawyer.

Kutcher

From what I've been reading, Kutcher is refusing to talk to anyone about this. Why leave your ivory tower and enter into politics if you can't handle the heat of the press? It would be great to hear his version of things. 

ot a Scientogist, that is an old waste of time arguement

I am personally NOT a Scientologist, nor affiliated with them besides not knowing one at all, and I've written a health blog for nearly 5 years, the "scientology" blame game is old news, there are 1000s of patients injured by psych meds and the drug injuries carry no religion requirements!

 

Stan Kutcher was asked some serious questions by Paul Thacker recently from the POGO blog, and last I read he has not responded to him either. Silence speaks a 1000 words when Kutcher, who is a published researcher author (he likes to cherry-pick which studies to boast about and PAXIL 329 isnt one of them) and he refuses to take responsibility for his actions.

To all of the negative commenters who claim scientology as a blame for highlighting an actual published research study that bured data that showed teens would become suicidal on PAXIL, you need to find another blame, try and contact Kutcher and ask him what to say here. I bet he won't answer you.

Maybe one of his prominent

Maybe one of his prominent co-authors will speak to reporters, some can be found taking pharma income for speaking, and sitting on CABF child adolescent bipolar foundation scientific advisory board. Clearly, signing their names to a study that is beyond scandalous has not stopped these ppl.

MARTIN B. KELLER, M.D., NEAL D. RYAN, M.D., MICHAEL STROBER, PH.D., RACHEL G. KLEIN, PH.D., STAN P. KUTCHER, M.D., BORIS BIRMAHER, M.D., OWEN R. HAGINO, M.D., HAROLD KOPLEWICZ, M.D., GABRIELLE A. CARLSON, M.D., GREGORY N. CLARKE, PH.D., GRAHAM J. EMSLIE, M.D., DAVID FEINBERG, M.D., BARBARA GELLER, M.D., VIVEK KUSUMAKAR, M.D., GEORGE PAPATHEODOROU, M.D., WILLIAM H. SACK, M.D., MICHAEL SWEENEY, PH.D., KAREN DINEEN WAGNER, M.D., PH.D., ELIZABETH B. WELLER, M.D., NANCY C. WINTERS, M.D., ROSEMARY OAKES, M.S., AND JAMES P. MCCAFFERTY, B.S.
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2001, 40(7):762–772.

"The PAXIL 329 study:

Conclusions: Paroxetine (PAXIL/Seroxat) is generally well tolerated and effective for major depression in adolescents."

 

There is a black box warning on SSRIs for suicidal thinking now, maybe it would have been there sooner if the PAXIL 329 had not failed to report their findings!
 

 

http://bipolarsoupkitchen-stephany.blogspot.com/2011/05/psychiatrist-calls-for-paxil-study-329.html

SCIENTIFIC FRAUD

What a lot of nonsense in these comments about Scientology. This issue is about SCIENTIFIC FRAUD  and the people who continue to promulgate fraudulent science such as GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil study 329 as Keller & Kutcher et al have done.

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