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Panorama
Seroxat manufacturer hits back
Dr Alistair Benbow
Dr Alistair Benbow says Seroxat is not addictive
The makers of the popular anti-depressant Seroxat have denied claims that their product is addictive and causes suicidal feelings.

Speaking on BBC One's Panorama programme, Dr Alastair Benbow, head of European clinical psychiatry at GlaxoSmithKline, admitted that people could have misunderstood the information on patient leaflets which said the drug was not addictive.

The company was shown hundreds of e-mails from Panorama viewers who had suffered side effects like 'electric head shocks' and said they had problems in weaning themselves off Seroxat.

Dr Benbow defended the use of the drug, saying: "Anybody who suffers side effects of any sort I feel every sympathy for, but that does have to be balanced by the enormous benefit that is seen by many millions of patients around the world.

Confusing

"In those emails there were a considerable number of people who talked about the positive benefit that Seroxat had given them."

He said that the company took every single safety report seriously but that based on the data available to him, he was "absolutely certain" that Seroxat was not addictive.

Dr Benbow said that GlaxoSmithKline was making its information on side effects clearer as in the past it had been confusing.

"For instance, we have in the information leaflet that you may get sensory disturbances. But it was clear to talking to patients that some of them - sensory disturbance is a bit of a medical term, what does that mean?

"It was quite clear from talking to patients - and as a doctor that's very, very important to me, it's quite clear that the phrase "Seroxat is not addictive" was poorly understood by them.

No indication

I do not believe that Seroxat causes people to take their own lives or self-harm

Dr Alistair Benbow, GSK
The GlaxoSmithKline spokesman also denied that taking Seroxat promoted suicidal feelings in users.

He said that there was no indication in studies that self harm or suicidal feelings was a feature of treatment with Seroxat or other SSRI medicines.

"Tragic though these cases are, I do not believe that Seroxat causes people to take their own lives or self-harm," he added.

Seroxat: E-mails from the edge

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