Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Tireless Campaigner And A Very Good Book

The British may be known for "inventing" the first novel, and like the first novel, this reads smoothly, part epistolary, part fiction. But it's not fiction. This is a true story, which I sorely wish was fiction.

The book I am referring to, is The Evidence Is Clear", written by Bob Fiddaman. Right now it's available as an ebook, for download here, but will be coming out in print later this year. Seroxat, (or Paxil, or Paroxetine) is manufactured worldwide by GlaxoSmithKline and is a SSRI drug used mostly for psychiatric purposes.

It was prescribed to Bob for depression, as he tells his tale of three years on this drug:
I was prescribed Seroxat by my GP due to 'depression' - it was work-related and kind of spiralled when my former employers put me on to a 'Long Term Absence Register' because I had developed an illness, Osteoarthritis of the hips, [1] that didn't allow me to perform the job I was employed for. The 'Long Term Absence Register' was basically set up to leave employees without pay and without being able to claim for benefits. It had a strain on family life and Seroxat was deemed to 'fix' that problem.

Seroxat took away the pain of not being able to provide for my family, in fact I didn't really care much about anything. I became devoid of any human emotion other than sadness. It was an unexplainable sadness though, you know, bouts of crying when I really didn't know what I was crying about. (p.10)

Bob's life spirals out of control when he starts missing a dose on holiday, and then describes side effects he encountered from taking the drug, unable to tolerate loud noises, night thrashes/terrors, night sweats, blurred vision, apathy and confusion. Then a suicide attempt. His marriage crumbles, and he has "brain zaps". After 18 months of tapering, he goes "cold turkey" off the drug and it takes about three months before he feels "normal" again after a period of hell withdrawing.

What then starts is a labyrinthian journey, as Bob goes through the bureaucracy of red tape and politics that exist in the UK, as he writes to doctors, politicians, the BBC, and employees of GSK trying to learn more about Seroxat and it's purpose. Again, it almost seems like fiction, but it's true. During this process, Bob launched his website. "Seroxat Sufferers, Stand Up And Be Counted"and has developed a loyal readership of people who have been hurt and maimed on Seroxat, as well as other psychiatric drugs.

What makes this book believable is even though someone like me who had no problems on Paxil on it, or off it, I still could relate to because of the problems I had with Cymbalta for example, or Haldol. The symptoms he went through were so similar to what I experienced on Cymbalta and Haldol and the dead ends I encountered trying to learn more about these drugs. But unlike me, Fiddy kept on truckin, as they use to say- not afraid of the red tape he was encountering and fearlessly became an advocate by default as he puts up piece after piece on his website.

150 years ago Charles Dickens told the world about workhouses and poverty in London and laws were enacted to changed it. 110 years ago Jack London was sickened by the poverty he saw first hand in London's Whitechapel district. 100 years ago Upton Sinclair wrote "The Jungle' to describe the horrors going on in the US meat packing industry, and 80 years later, this movement went into the fast food restaurants exposing them. Now in this new century, maybe it's time to take the lid of Big Pharma, to tell them, while they do do good manufacturing drugs like penicillin, and other drugs to bring down fever and colds, we really, really have to look how psychiatric drugs are made and marketed, and if they really do any good, compared to, say a placebo.

Bob's book is a tough read on a serious subject. But rewarding. Its only drawback is it's an ebook, you cannot hold it, or download it to a Kindle. But like any book worth reading, it makes you think. It makes you mad as hell, too. And it makes you want to go out and do something, even if it's writing a letter to your local Congressman, on MP. And for that, it really does belong on the bookshelf, once the paperback comes out. But, if you were like me and cannot wait, get the ebook in the meantime.

Here is a video Bob did to preview the book.


Stephany said...

Great review!

Great work, Fid, what an amazing amount of energy to do this and keep pushing GSK out into the daylight of truth daily on your blog.

High 5!

susan said...

Stephany, yes both of you are inspirational to me with my advocacy and helped me start writing again.....It was a very good read to read this weekend.


Thank you for such an awesome review Susan.



susan said...


I meant every word. Twas a good read!

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