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Panorama
GSK to change patient leaflet
Seroxat
The drug company which makes the anti-depressant Seroxat is to drop the wording that it is "not addictive" on its patient leaflets.

The move by the drugs giant follows complaints from viewers of BBC One's Panorama programme, who complain of severe withdrawal symptoms and say they have been unable to stop taking the drug.

The change will be revealed in Panorama: E-mails from the edge, which will be shown on BBC One on Sunday, 11 May.

The programme was made as a result of the big response from Seroxat users to its first investigation, in October, into its withdrawal problems. The original programme received 67,000 calls and 1,400 e-mails.

Alastair Benbow, head of European clinical psychiatry at GSK, now acknowledges that the wording was poorly understood by patients.

Not impressed

He told the Guardian newspaper that he accepted that the drug, like other medicines, did cause physiological changes. "It is absolutely right, some people have symptoms and for some those are very troubling."

Last year, the Guardian also revealed that Seroxat topped the league table for complaints of side-effects made by doctors to the government's committee on the safety of medicines under the yellow card scheme.

The 1,281 complaints filed was more than the combined total for the rest of the top 20.

Charles Medawar, of Social Audit, was not impressed by the move. He said: "My feeling is that the changes GSK proposes could and should have been made at least five years ago and will not tell patients anything they don't know. They are glossing over the reality. This is far too little, too late."

Electric shock

It doesn't go anywhere near helping patients who are on this drug and can't get off it

Sarah Venn
Sarah Venn, of the Seroxat users group which has 4,000 members, said: "We are pleased to have this news but it doesn't address the information provided to doctors. It doesn't go anywhere near helping patients who are on this drug and can't get off it."

Many people say Seroxat has changed their lives by lifting them out of depression, but some experience side-effects when they try to reduce the dose and stop taking it including electric shock like sensations.

But Dr Benbow said GSK's "feedback" showed doctors did understand what was meant and he could see no reason to spell out the difference between "physical dependency" and "drug dependency".

"I think we would start to get into difficulties of definition." He said the wording of the doctors' leaflet should only be changed "if we think there is a clear lack of understanding (by) the doctors," he added.

Seroxat: E-mails from the edge

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