Benzo cover-up scandal could pave the way for large class action lawsuits

According to The Independent, a national newspaper in Great Britain,  the Medical Research Council (MRC) agreed in 1982 that there should be large-scale studies conducted to examine the effects of long-term benzodiazepine usage after a leading psychiatrist showed brain shrinkage in some patients similar to the effects of long-term alcohol usage. What the MRC appears to have done, instead of conducting the studies, is to mark the relevant documents “closed until 2014.”

Considering that millions of British and American citizens are prescribed these drugs, why would the MRC have chosen to sit on the documents?  An article in Psychology Today offers this possible answer. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency (MHPA), which regulates the safety of medicines in Britain, is funded entirely by the drug companies it is meant to oversee. A 2005 parliamentary report details this in paragraph 98 of its Fourth Report to the House of Commons.

Will “Big Pharma” be made to pay for its profits-before-people stance? Jim Dobbin, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction, is quoted as telling The Independent, “Many victims have lasting physical, cognitive and psychological problems even after they have withdrawn. We are seeking legal advice because we believe these documents are the bombshell they have been waiting for. The MRC must justify why there was no proper follow-up to Professor Lader’s research, no safety committee, no study, nothing to further explore the results. We are talking about a huge scandal here.”

Catherine Hopkins, legal director of Action Against Medical Accidents, adds, “The failure to carry out research into the effect of benzodiazepines has exposed huge numbers of people to the risk of brain damage. This research urgently needs to be carried out, and if the results confirm the suspicions of the 1981 expert group, it could lead to one of the biggest group actions for damages against the Government and the MRC ever seen in the courts.”

Here is a link to the suppressed documents.

Here is Christopher Lane’s follow-up to his article in Psychology Today.

A postscript to anyone who is freaked out by words like “brain damage” and “permanent” …

I consider myself to be suffering temporary central nervous system damage. Given my history of long-term, high-dose usage and this being my second time around the block (the first time resulted in protracted withdrawal which caused me to give up hope and reinstate), I think it’s possible that I may not see 100% healing. However, based on the stories of the many who’ve done this and recovered (including other “hopeless cases” who endured protracted withdrawal just as I did, but didn’t reinstate), most people see 100% healing. Those who don’t, the “permanently damaged,” are still 95% healed. The damage they are left with usually takes the form of a sensitive central nervous system. Once they learn what things to avoid (certain medicines, supplements, etc.), they are for all intents and purposes 100% healed too. If this is my result, as I fully expect it will be, I will be over the moon with happiness.

We aren’t brain damaged. There isn’t anything permanent wrong with us. We will heal. Everything we’re feeling is the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and it will pass. This isn’t just glad talk. All those “hopeless cases” I knew are better now. They’re why I had the courage to go through this a second time and the hope to hang in there, no matter how long my healing takes.

The only thing you should take from the articles is some righteous anger over actual proof of what we knew all along: Information was intentionally covered up because it would have cut into Big Pharma’s bottom line. Hopefully they’ll be made to pay big time for their profits-before-people business philosophy. Hopefully the British victims finally have some “teeth” for their lawsuit. Hopefully they’ll win and it will be big news. And hopefully that will lead to safer prescribing in the future.

This entry was posted in Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome, Benzos In The News. Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Benzo cover-up scandal could pave the way for large class action lawsuits

  1. Anna McCabe says:

    I have a daughter that came off of a benzo (Kolonopin) cold turkey when she felt they were no longer helping her. Her doctor never told her she should not do this as she would have serious side effects. Now after a year she is slowly starting to feel normal again. I hope that you can help the people there as the U.S. is doing nothing to help the people to cope with the withdrawal symptoms in that country. May you have better luck.

    • I’m so sorry your daughter had to go through that, but very pleased that she is finally recovering. In the next year, she should see significant improvement and will likely consider herself 100% healed. I base this on the recovery stories of others. I can’t wait to get to this point myself.

      I’m not sure what we’ll be able to accomplish here in the U.S., but there are many of us trying. I will do whatever I can.

  2. Kelly OBrien says:

    I am 7 months off of Klonopin. After a diagnosis of Orthostatic Intolerance in Jan. 2010, I became very anxious. I also have POTS syndrome. I was placed on 6mg of Klonopin and it derailed me. I was tapered off really quickly – switched to Xanax and then back to 1.50mg of Klonopin – and then off of that in a week. The pain in my head, now 7 months later, is haunting. My last dose of Klonopin was Aug. 8th, 2010. A stay at Mayo Clinic followed due to the level of head pain – they pumped me with hardcore migraine meds through an IV.

    I feel my brain is damaged. I lost a 15 year career as a medical sales representative and all of my savings.

    I am now losing my condo. I am lost and scared – and in pain. I wonder if this head/jaw pain is still Klonopin induced.

    Kelly

  3. Kelly OBrien says:

    Just to quickly add…..I was STARTED on 6mg of Klonopin. People always ask me ‘Are you sure you were ‘started’ on that much’? Yes, I am sure.

    I was an athlete – I loved to sail in Chicago. I loved to travel. I have laid in bed for over one year. No one believes me that this is still Klonopin give or take a few friends.

    POTS Syndrome mimics a lot of symptoms of protracted withdrawal. All I know is this – before I was put on Klonopin, I was weak and very ill. I had NO head or jaw pain. My symptoms were from the neck down. I feel like someone is beating me in the head with a hammer. The pain is 24 hours a day – I never ever get a break.

    If I can know this will go away, I will have hope. I just pray it goes away within the year.

  4. Your story makes me angry enough to want to go on a rant about the stupidity of certain doctors and the failures of our healthcare system, but I’ll save that for some future blog entry.

    I empathize with your story because we have a lot of things in common. I’m seven months off of Klonopin too. Head, jaw and neck pain is my worst symptom. The better part of my last year has been spent in bed. I lost a 20+ year graphic design career and all of my savings. I no longer own a home. So I totally get where you’re coming from.

    Yes, the head/jaw pain is still Klonopin induced. Yes, it will go away. For myself, I expect my healing to take 18 to 24 months (minus the seven months I’ve already put in). I base that on my particular history and the stories of others who’ve gone before me. No one can say how long your healing will take, but if you’re not fully recovered in the next year, you will certainly feel much better than you do now. You will get your life back.

    I belong to this online support group. I think you ought to join it or one of the others that are out there. You’ll find the answers to a lot of your questions. Also, they have a section for success stories which is great to read when you’re feeling like you’ll never recover. (Everyone thinks that, but they all do.) Without the success stories to buoy me on, I honestly don’t know how I’d have come this far.

    I’m going to send you a private e-mail with some other stuff in it.

  5. Kelly OBrien says:

    Thank you so much. Your actually the first person I have talked to that seems to be exactly where I am. I was floored when I read your story. I am so sad, you know? I have lost so much time. I know you understand that all too well. As for me though, I also have a very serious underlying health condition. I almost wish it was just Klonopin protracted withdrawal syndrome.

    Why aren’t you counting the 7 months already in? My prayer is that at one year -which will be September – it subsides enough that I will be able to go back to work. My head…..it feels like nerve pain. All of the pain has shifted to the right side. It almost feels like there is a tumor in my forehead or a golfball sized something or other.

    I still have to believe that there is some lesson in this (other than the obvious). I have to believe I am losing years of my life for a reason.

    I pray we both get better. I am going to be following your progress. I hope I do not lose any additional friends b/c I am aware it’s hard to absorb what is happening – from their point of reference (0:

    Kelly

  6. Kelly OBrien says:

    Waiting for your private email kell.yob@hotmail.com

  7. Oh, wow. I sent that private e-mail on the same day I replied to you here. I have no idea what happened to it. Sending one now.

  8. Kelly OBrien says:

    August 8th will be one year off of Klonopin. The pain in my jaw/head is unreal. The doctors now suspect I have Chiari Malformation. I would shocked and elated actually, if this was still Klonopin but that is seeming more and more unlikely to even me.

    I am so glad you are being open, communicating & writing via a blog about it.

  9. I’m sure that what you’re experiencing is still Klonopin. What I’m unsure of, because there’s no way to tell, is what percentage is Klonopin and what percentage is the underlying condition. The same goes for myself.

    I have a friend who was doing terribly at 18 months Ativan-free. She thought everything she was feeling was her underlying condition. It wasn’t. It was still the Ativan. She began turning a corner at 18 months off. She was fully healed by 24 months off.

    I hope you don’t have a Chiari malformation unless being diagnosed with that means treatment that will provide relief.

  10. David glass says:

    I have been off ativan for 9 months slowly getting better but i just sit at home.

    • Yes, I’m sitting at home too. This thing can be rather like a prison sentence (or maybe house arrest), but it’s not a life sentence. I chose to go through this thing in order to get my life back. I won’t settle for anything less.

  11. Mary carleton says:

    My mother is trying to get off ativan, what a nightmare. She just spent a week in a hospital psyche ward . She left in worse shape than when she went in. The doctor was a useless uncaring person. And the nurses changed the amount of Ativan they were giving her on a daily basis.
    Are there are any Canadian detox centres for the elderly that anyone can recommend.
    We can’t do it at home. We need more support

    • If your mother has been on Ativan for years, she will need to come off of it very gradually. I’m not aware of any inpatient facilities in Canada or the U.S. that do this. The reason for this is that the time involved is prohibitive. At-home detox is the best option. FWIW, I’m in similar circumstances with my mother-in-law. Because she’s nearly blind, she can’t manage the taper herself. Because I live five hours away, I can’t assist her with it. She’s almost 90-years-old, so we’ve decided her best option is to just remain on the Klonopin.

      If your mother is younger or if remaining on the Ativan is out of the question, you still have some options open to you. The Ashton Manual (considered to be the best guide on how to taper benzodiazepines) suggests crossing to a longer-acting benzo; preferably Valium, but I know some that have crossed to Klonopin as well. Be sure that her doctor crosses her to an equivalent dosage. I’ve pasted two useful links below. After she’s been crossed, you might want to consider having her dosage reductions prepared for you at a compounding pharmacy. That way, neither you nor she will have to deal with cutting pills, liquid medicine or liquid titration. She can just take pills as she’s already used to doing.

      http://www.benzo.org.uk/bzequiv.htm

      http://www.benzodocs.com/converter.php

      As to the rate of reduction, I’m copying and pasting this text from http://www.non-benzodiazepines.org.uk/withdrawal-guide.html

      “The most commonly asked question is how fast should I withdraw? There really is no hard and fast answer to this question. Most organisations suggest cutting by approximately 10% but the advice on the gaps between cuts often differs between organisations and experts. Some experts and organisations have suggested a withdrawal rate of 1 – 2 weeks whereas others have suggested cutting every 2-3 weeks or every 3 – 4 weeks.[1],[2],[3],[4] However, the most important advice is that suggested schedules are not taken literally as inflexible rigid dictations but as suggested guides which may not be suitable for everyone as everyone is different. Professor Ashton herself has stated that withdrawal guides should be flexible throughout the taper and determined by the individual who only he or she can know what rate of withdrawal can best suit the individual.[1] Some of the best advice on the subject matter is made by the Committee on Safety of Medicines which is published in the British National Formulary which is a handbook on medications for doctors in the UK. It states that ‘it is better to reduce too slowly rather than too quickly’.[4]”

      I’m sorry. I know that this isn’t the solution you’re hoping for, but it’s the best that I’m personally aware of. Best of luck to you and your mother.

  12. Shaun says:

    The pharmaceutical companies and doctors ABSOLUTELY must be held liable. 8 months ago my doctor INSISTED that I go on klonopin for insomnia. In my gut I KNEW that it was a bad idea; but I TRUSTED my doctor. I stayed on an extremely low dose for 3weeks, THAT’S IT! I was told that I DID NOT need to taper off at all. Subsequent to a CT… FOR TWO months I experienced the absolute worst withdrawal ever. From 20 plus physical symptoms to 20 plus psychiatric ones. M thoroughly psychotic now. I want to end my life every single day.

    • Benzo withdrawal is hell, but it’s a temporary hell, particularly given your short-term use. Suicidal ideation is, unfortunately, pretty normal for benzo withdrawal. If you ever think you might act on it, TELL SOMEONE. You’ll have your life back. I promise. You just need to hang in there for it.

    • lona says:

      Your situation sounds EXACTLY like the one my fiance had to go through. I’m sorry to hear this has happened to you. Have you considered malpractice towards your doctor after he did not educate you properly about the medication?

  13. david says:

    5 1/2 years off benzos and STILL suffering. Brain fog, derealization, head pain, anxiety, dizziness, insomnia worse than before benzos, emotional blunting, cognitive impairment, body numbing, parathesia of the feet, bad fatigue. Got on for minor insomnia and had NONE of those sxs before this evil poison. This drug has RUNIED my life. This is beyond CRIMINAL what this drug is doing to people around the world.

    • Most of the people I meet who’ve encountered the withdrawal syndrome will either heal or be mostly healed by two years benzo-free. But not all of them. I’m sorry you’re dealing with protracted withdrawal. I’m struggling with it too. I’m 31 months benzo-free and still symptomatic. It IS criminal. I would sue if I could.

      • Jacob Daugherty says:

        What is preventing you from suing?

      • I prefer to focus what energy I have on recovery. Also, I lack the financial resources. Lawyers won’t work on a contingency basis unless they’re damned sure of winning. I suspect, too, that there’s a statute of limitations which has passed.

      • Debb says:

        I am also at 31 months benzo free. I still have severe anxiety, stiffness of neck, derealisation, noise sensitivity, insomnia, dizziness, nauseous and fear of everything. I can not ingest sugar, caffeine, or any supplements. I want my life back

      • I know. So do I. I continue to make progress. But it’s sooooo slow.

    • Marc says:

      I’m about the same time off and still feeling bad…..

  14. bigI says:

    i used benzos for two months and altho i am a bit better still suffer throu alot of sxs ,like headaches ,sweating on my hands, feels like shocks on my chest,burning sensation sometimes in back and chest, i been off tenmonths and thank god !!! i’m waaaay better than i was but wow,i did not know this crap was gonna hurt me that bad… i used attivan at hospital stay last year 04/12/13 will be one year since attivan introduced to me in hospital, then i met a dr on april 12 who prescribed me 3 mgs of alprazolam a day.. just because i said they gave me attivan in hospital.. needless to say i got worse from april 12/2012 to may 14,2012 i went back to er thinking i had a heart attack,no one said a thing about benzos,until god put a male nurse in my path who explained the benzo ,ssri,z-drug crap to me ,i never knew!,so i go home and threw out rest of alrazolam,and boom 15 hrs later the withdrawal from hell.. i couldnt stop shaking,looking up at ceiling,sounds were loud, smells of food made me nautious.. bp elevated ..face twitching ..o.m.g…. my poor mom rescued two pills from garbage ..til i saw dr.. they gave me clonazepam which was worse…and they saw me shakin and said i had an underlying issue, how could this be i ask .. i never was like this before..anyways i tapered of clonazepam in two weeks and went cold turkey june 1 of 2012… hell broke loose .. i didnt leave my house for a month and a half ,couldnt drive omg what an ordeal..
    alot of crap ..my thoughts were crazy homicidal,suicidal,crying alot,ocd.. bad thoughts about god ..it wwas terrible, but i thank god for blessing me ..it was hard and still a bit hard ,but not like last year!!! and this is just two months of use… god is good ..and the experience has humbled me.. i wanna help anyone i can..and be helped ..i’m still in pro-withdrawal but getting better every day .. i have moments.. so anyone reading this god bless you..and if you wanna compare notes or need a ear.. hit me up :) ..

  15. KIP says:

    I am approaching 6 years. I started making better progress when I started looking for ways to support my CNS healing. Candida was an issue. Sugar is a no no. Gluten/grain. Avoiding chemicals as much as possible. Natural not synthetic supplements. Limiting caffeine – a lot. I eat a plant based diet that is mostly green with some fruit as carbs cause increase in candida brain fog and emotional instability issues. I’ve added swimming walking and even short spurts of running – as long as I don’t overdo I am able to stay with it. Catching a cold can set me back for months. Accumpuncture, meditation and Qui Kung – eastern energy work ….great results. Until I started this path – I was nearly completely bedridden but could get up and do things for periods of time. My emotional and cognitive abilities were much more limited. I had to take it upon myself to find how to heal myself. No doctor will admit this is protracted wd. Its slow going but I have hope I will at least find some sort of stability and function will continue to improve with these measures.

    • I’m doing similar stuff. I eat very clean. I can’t tolerate MSG or any of the other processed free glutamic acids at all. Unfortunately, that crap is in everything. Learning to avoid it has been … challenging. I’ve also been doing yoga three times a week since late May. As I continue to heal, I’ll begin adding in other activities as well.

  16. I took clonazepam for 2 years and ran out for 2 days and had a seizure. steeleshep@gmail.com

    • Cold turkeying benzodiazepines is dangerous. Much like abrupt alcohol or barbiturate withdrawal, it can provoke seizures. In early 2006, I suffered a withdrawal seizure when my then-doctor forced me off the drug too quickly.

      • Shaun says:

        thank goodness for your blog… i have had the worse case of protracted withdrawal twice over… i simply do not understand why lawyers dont want to take this situation on… i am in constant hell 100 percent due to these medications… most days i just want to give up on life… i am only 34 yrs old, but i feel 60… i dont know what to do…

  17. Lori says:

    I tapered myself off klonopin last May 2013. I was taken to the ER, Placed in a mental hospital and have never been the same. I’m in the middle of a divorce am losing my home and everyone thinks I’m crazy. No one, told me about this and most ER doctors don’t believe me when I tell them it’s the klonopin. they diagnose me as bipolar!!!

    • I’m very sorry to hear that all of that happened to you, but I’m not surprised. For those of us who encounter the withdrawal syndrome, stories like this aren’t uncommon. You’re not crazy or bipolar, not unless you were either of those things prior to benzo withdrawal. You’re also not permanently damaged. Your body and mind will heal from this. I recommend Bliss Johns’ book, Recovery and Renewal. It will assure you of these things and you might even let the more open-minded individuals in your circle of family and friends read it. Though don’t beat your head against the wall trying to convince those who won’t listen. That will only cause you upset and you certainly don’t need that. I wish you full healing sooner rather than later.

      • Lori says:

        One of the lasting effects is this feeling of being outside of my environment. A dualism of sorts. I can see why some have believed my behavior as bipolar. However,oddly a good thing came out of it all. I realized that the person I married is not my life partner! In sickness and in health didn’t resonate with him. So as get well, he will remains a selfish person. It also renewed my spirit to help others. Thank you again for your kind words and recommendation! Peace!

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