This week, we talk to Professor Peter Gøtzsche who is Director of the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark. Professor Gøtzsche graduated as a master of science in biology and chemistry in 1974 and as a physician in 1984. He is a specialist in internal medicine; worked with clinical trials and regulatory affairs in the drug industry and at hospitals in Copenhagen. He co-founded The Cochrane Collaboration and established The Nordic Cochrane Centre in 1993. In 2010 he became a professor of Clinical Research Design and Analysis at the University of Copenhagen. Peter has published more than 70 papers in the mainstream medical journals and his scientific works have been cited more than 15,000 times. He is also an author and his books include Deadly medicines and organised crime: how big Pharma has corrupted healthcare published in 2013 and in 2015 he published Deadly Psychiatry and Organised Denial. I was keen to talk to Professor Gøtzsche about his background in research, his views on antidepressant prescribing and how pharmaceutical manufacturers have influenced mental healthcare. There are few with his knowledge and understanding of psychiatric medications.
In this episode we discuss:
- Professor Gøtzsche’s background in clinical trials within the Pharmaceutical industry.
- How the Pharmaceutical manufacturers were manipulating clinical trial data for their own gain.
- How drug manufacturers have denied for more than 20 years that benzodiazepines and antidepressant drugs cause dependence.
- How the UK drug regulator (MHRA) also denied this in 2003 at the same time that the World Health Organisation reported that 3 antidepressants were in the top 30 list of drugs that create dependence.
- That surveys of patients show that between 50% and 66% of those taking antidepressants experience dependence.
- The similarities between the Pharmaceutical industry and the tobacco industry.
- That stopping an antidepressant suddenly can be very dangerous.
- How prescription drugs have become the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.
- How Pharmaceutical manufacturers have used their power and influence to the detriment of patient safety.
- That the best science shows that there is no doubt that psychiatric drugs have killed millions of people over the years.
- How psychotherapy is shown to reduce the risk of suicide but instead we prescribe pills that increase the suicide risk for all ages of patients.
- That the chemical imbalance lie is still being propagated amongst psychiatrists even thought there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support it.
- How Psychiatric drugs should be used for acute/emergency situations only.
- That the medication centred approach of Psychiatry does more harm than good.
- How patients should avoid psychiatric drugs unless they are used for a very short time or that the patient really feels that they need them.
- That when you look at the randomised controlled trials, there is a large risk of bias in these trials and that antidepressant efficacy has been overstated.
- That the Cochrane Collaboration undertook the most rigorous meta-analysis ever undertaken of 131 trials involving 27,422 patients taking SSRI’s, this analysis showed that antidepressants do not have any meaningful effects and their harms outweigh any benefits there might be.