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GSK in suicide 'cover-up'

29th January 2007

14032006_PillPackets1s.jpgThe UK's biggest drug company has come under fire in a new BBC Panorama documentary.

The film, shown on Monday evening, reveals that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) promoted the drug Seroxat for depressed children despite failed drug trials.  The documentary also claims the company covered up a link between the drug and suicidal tendencies in teenagers.

GSK already faces legal action in the US where families of teenagers who took their own lives are suing the company.  A lawyer representing the families who studied GSK’s internal archives said, "Even when they have negative studies that show that this drug Seroxat is going to harm some kids they still spin that study as remarkably effective and safe for children."  The lawyer also found an email from a member of GSK’s PR team referring to the trial of the drug which states, "Originally we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding this study until we actually viewed the results. Essentially the study did not really show it [Seroxat] was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicise."

GSK has responded to the documentary by saying it rejects any suggestion of improperly withholding drug trial information but Fiona Godlee, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, has said it is, “depressing is that such behaviour is still so widely tolerated within medicine.?

Seroxat was banned for children in 2003 after The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found that GSK's own studies showed the drug actually trebles the risk of suicidal tendencies in depressed children.  At the time the MHRA began a criminal investigation into GSK but as yet they have taken no action.

 

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