Brook quits agency after Seroxat row

The chief executive of mental health charity Mind has resigned from
the expert group set up to look at the safety of modern
antidepressants over concerns that it failed to put service users’
interests first.

Richard Brook resigned as lay member of the medicines and health
care products regulatory agency after expressing his concern that
it had failed to protect consumers from potentially harmful doses
of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Seroxat.

His move followed the decision by the agency to send out a reminder
to health professionals over the recommended starting dose for the
drug. It warned that there was “no evidence from clinical trials of
increased efficacy in the treatment of depressive illness above
20mg” and that higher doses could be detrimental.

But Brook said the agency’s warning last week was based on
information it had known about for more than 10 years as it had
been part of the original licence application.

“Either they didn’t understand the full implications of the
available medical data at the time or, worse, that data was fully
understood and they failed to act,” he said. “Either way it amounts
to extreme negligence and a clear dereliction of the agency’s duty
to safeguard the well-being of the British public.”

As many as 17,000 patients were started on doses of Seroxat above
20mg last year. Some people who have taken Seroxat have suffered
unpleasant side-effects, including suicidal thoughts and behaviour.
Last year the agency advised that Seroxat should no longer be used
to treat depression in under-18s.

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