How many children must be killed by dangerous drugs before good people take action?
Perhaps just one – if it’s your child.
Terence Young knows the tragedy of losing someone he loved. His 15 year old daughter Vanessa died far too young. She died after taking a drug called Prepulsid or Ciapride, a drug commonly used to relieve stomach discomfort or nausea, prescribed by their family doctor.
Then there is Neil Carlin’s daughter Sara, who committed suicide after taking Paxil, a drug which is known to cause suicidal ideation in young people. Also, Brennan McCartney, 18, killed himself four days after starting Cipralex, an antidepressant.
Perhaps it is fortuitous that Terence Young is a Member of Parliament, from Oakville, a Suburb of Toronto. In such a position, he is able to do more than some other parents who have experienced loss. He sponsored Bill C17, Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs, aimed at tighter controls and more transparency, which was enacted on November 5, 2014. It’s commonly known as Vanessa’s Law, so named in honor of his daughter.
The law requires that healthcare institutions report serious adverse drug reactions to the Minister of Health. This is key to detecting problems with existing and new drugs. Many adverse effects may happen at home and may never be reported, but serious reactions that require medical attention will now be known and tracked. Parents continue to have responsibility to report any reactions that do not involve a hospital or clinic visit.
With enactment of the new law, the Minister of Health is empowered to require more data from drug companies and healthcare providers, require further tests or extensive studies, conduct assessments of a drug’s results, both its effectiveness and its negative reactions. It is important, on an ongoing basis, to determine whether a drug works and assess how dangerous it may be. Previously, the government’s powers to take proactive measures was limited.
In the spirit of transparency, the law allows the Minister of Health to disclose to the appropriate agencies certain business information that would have previously remained hidden. Additionally, information about clinical trials now must be made publicly available. While business confidentially is important in a competitive environment, this confidentiality cannot be prioritized above patients’ rights, health and safety.
And finally, the law empowers the government to protect the public with the ability to require labeling on dangerous drugs, to alter the way drugs and devices are used, and even to order the recall of certain drugs.
The law that Mr. Young sponsored is a step in the right direction to protect our young people from an industry that has all too often chosen profit over patient safety.
But there’s more. Mr. Young just recently announced a new online tool that makes it easier to search drug safety info Drug and Health Product Register.
Any death is heartbreaking. The death of a child, before their life has fully begun, is utterly tragic. To lose a young person in a way that’s completely avoidable, is far beyond tragic.
Though grief is undoubtedly part of his life, Terence Young is doing much more than grieve. He’s doing something effective, working hard with the hope that someday no parent will ever have to face such a tragedy.
The “industry” in question is really two industries, psychiatry/medicine and the pharmaceutical (drug) companies, along with their helpful cohorts in government which provide the funding.
In both cases, and thousands more beyond the scope of one article, these young people – children really, were given drugs with known, serious side effects. In Vanessa’s case, the side effect of Prepulsid caused cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms). With regard to Sara Carlin and Brennan McCartney, these side effects included mania, psychosis, depression, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts and death.
In the case of (supposed) mental disorders, as in the cases of Sara and Brennan, there may have been no “illness” at all. Mental disorders are defined and diagnosed only by a list of symptoms. The symptoms describe behaviors and feelings, all subjective, which are supposed to be the result of a diseased brain. Yet there are no objective medical tests that can determine whether a person has such a disorder, a condition for which dangerous drugs may be given.
These disorders cannot be detected by blood analysis, brain scan, or any form of “chemical imbalance” test, no matter how many fraudulent psychiatrists may claim that symptoms are caused by chemical imbalances.
The symptoms described are real and can be extremely disturbing. Yet, without verifiable testing, the cause of these symptoms is always unknown. This is very, very important because a number of other conditions can manifest identical symptoms – allergies, poor nutrition, extreme stress (does anyone remember high school?), hyper and hypo-thyroid conditions, hormonal issues, a plethora of genuine medical illnesses, even cancer. Before any such dangerous drugs are given, full medical testing should be done to find any underlying conditions.
Why would these “industries” set up such a system that endangers the very patients they have been trusted to help? A simple answer. Money. Psychiatric disorders are listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The disorders are voted on by work groups comprised of psychiatrists. According to a 2012 report from the University of Massachusetts, “Three-fourths of the work groups continue to have a majority of their members with financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry”.
In the end though, the major responsibility for caring for our children rests with the parents. Each parent must become better informed. Each parent must be aware that diagnosis is subjective and they should seek a second opinion. Each must know that all drugs carry side effects, some of them very dangerous. Parents need to know that they do have a choice, that medical testing can detect the underlying physical cause of any symptoms, that alternative treatments are available, and that, above all, they and their children have rights to choose their own treatment options.
Thank you Mr. Young for taking effective action to protect our youth. Each and every parent can do the same for their own children, and hopefully before anything bad has to happen.