Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Does GSK Love Bad Publicity?

Bob Fiddaman, who runs a website that frequently discusses issues associated with the antidepressant drug paroxetine (Paxil/Seroxat) reports that he recently received an intimidating letter from GlaxoSmithKline's attorneys. Fiddaman posted a YouTube video in which he compared comments from GSK employee Alistair Benbow to statements and data gleaned from other sources. Benbow's statements in the video are frequently in disagreement with other sources. According to Fiddaman, GSK was upset because he used their logo without permission and because Benbow has allegedly experienced "serious distress by such unwarranted harassment."

From reading Fiddaman's post, I was unable to ascertain exactly what types of statements were made by GSK, though my impression is that getting the attorneys involved is a way to attempt to bully Fiddaman into silence. Unfortunately for GSK, such a tactic is an very stupid decision. Why? Well, because those of us who blog about the drug industry tend to keep a close eye on each other's work, and when we notice someone is feeling intimidated, we think it is newsworthy, so we write about it.

Philip Dawdy, author of the popular Furious Seasons blog, has opined in part that:
Basically, GSK used lawyers to intimidate an activist into shutting up...
Aubrey Blumsohn of the excellent Scientific Misconduct Blog, wrote that:
Their questions are about science. Many of those critics are our patients. They question the quality, transparency and honesty of our science, and they do so with good reason. We ignore these patients and these questions at our peril. That such patients should be threatened is a disgrace.
Seroxat Secrets has kept a close eye on Seroxat issues and noted:
Rather than take damaged patients on in court, GlaxoSmithKline would do better to meet them and begin to try to understand why some people suffered Seroxat addiction and then undertake some meaningful research into the problem: there is something wrong with Seroxat and it causes problems for many patients.
In my opinion, it seems that GSK's goal was to get Fiddaman to shut up, so that his video would be seen by fewer people. But the funny thing is that by sending a letter through attorneys, GSK has aroused the ire of several people, resulting in the video getting much more attention. Not a good move.

As for the video, it can be seen here:


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