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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 October, 2004, 03:38 GMT 04:38 UK
Seroxat and Panorama: Timeline
A Seroxat pill

Since Panorama: The Secrets of Seroxat was broadcast in October 2002, the topic of safety in certain SSRI anti-depressants has frequently been in the news.

Below is a timeline of significant news coverage of Seroxat and Panorama.

6 September, 2004: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is facing a US lawsuit alleging that it covered up negative research findings on its anti-depressant drug Paxil.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of children and teenagers who were prescribed Paxil, known as Seroxat in the UK and Europe.

27 August, 2004: GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to publish results of clinical tests on its drugs, to settle a US lawsuit.

18 June, 2004: GlaxoSmithKline has announced plans to publish clinical trial results for some of its medicines on the internet.

2 June, 2004: UK drugs group Glaxosmithkline (GSK) has been sued in the US for allegedly lying about the effectiveness and safety of its antidepressant Paxil.

13 March, 2004: The head of mental health charity Mind has resigned from a review of anti-depressants accusing a government drugs watchdog of negligence.

Richard Brook acted after GPs were advised to limit doses of the anti-depressant Seroxat. He claims the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) knew about the concerns for 10 years and he was pressured not to reveal them.

11 March, 2004: Experts have warned doctors not to start patients on high doses of the antidepressant Seroxat. The Committee on Safety of Medicines says patients should initially be given a dose of 20mg a day.

3 February, 2004: Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline knew that the anti-depressant Seroxat could not be proved to work on children in 1998, according to a leaked internal document.

The secret document, relating to two clinical trials held in the 1990s, reveals that drug trials had shown little or no effect on helping depression in minors.

The company was also advised to avoid publishing the full data because it would be "commercially unacceptable" and would "undermine the profile" of the drug.

The confidential paper, sent anonymously to BBC's Panorama programme, reveals that the company were advised to publish only the positive aspects of one study and that there were no plans to publish a second - more negative - study.


20 November, 2003: A system designed to highlight dangerous side-effects of medicines is not working, claim researchers. Doctors, and other health professionals are supposed to notify watchdogs if a patient reports an "adverse effect". However, a researcher from the University of Oxford says that this information is wasted because they are not analysed properly.

10 June, 2003: Young people under the age of 18 should not be prescribed the controversial drug Seroxat, government advisors have ruled. It follows a review which found children taking the anti-depressant may be more likely to self-harm or partake in suicidal behaviour.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has also warned that adults who are on the drug should not suddenly stop taking it.

9 June, 2003: Experts are set to update the safety advice provided with the controversial antidepressant Seroxat. The drug has been at the centre of a storm amid claims that it is addictive and could increase the risk of violent behaviour in some patients. It's maker, GlaxoSmithKline, insists that it is a safe drug - prescribed to thousands of patients in the UK.

27 May 2003: The government is launching a major inquiry into the safety of some of the most prescribed anti-depressants, including Seroxat. An expert group of the Committee on Safety of Medicines is to be set up to look at the problems some patients have reported while taking selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Seroxat and Prozac.

And for the first time ever, the inquiry will take first hand reports from people who claim to have problems and investigate reports of suicidal behaviour.

11 May 2003: 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.

11 May 2003: 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.

11 May 2003: Panorama sent hundreds of people a detailed questionnaire about their experiences on Seroxat and received 293 replies. These in depth replies were then sent to Charles Medawar of the group Social Audit, and his co-author Dr Andrew Herxheimer who wrote an analytical report into the value of the e-mails.

This report has been published in the International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine. It concluded that "their collective weight was profound" and that the value of a large amount of data coming in at once may be greater than continuing to examine a slow trickle of reports.

11 March, 2003: A coroner is calling for an inquiry into the widely-prescribed anti-depressant drug Seroxat. Powys coroner Geraint Williams has written to the UK Health Secretary to ask for an urgent inquiry and for the drug to be withdrawn from use.

It follows the death of a man from Brecon who killed himself two weeks after being prescribed the drug for anxiety - the coroner recorded an open verdict on Tuesday.

8 January, 2003: Experts are looking at the safety of widely used antidepressants including Prozac and Seroxat. The review will look at a range of options, including whether the drugs should be banned. The government review began after members of the public and doctors raised concerns that the drugs can be addictive, contrary to manufacturers' claims - and increase the risk of suicide in some patients.


13 October 2002: One of the most widely used anti-depressants in the world can be addictive, it has been claimed. The claims - to be made on Panorama - come as the makers of Seroxat are attempting to have their drug licensed for use by children in America.

13 October 2002: The Head of European Clinical Psychiatry at the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has denied that the drug Seroxat can lead to addiction. In an interview with Panorama, to be shown on Sunday night, Dr Alastair Benbow said the drug was well tolerated and had been used all over the world for a decade. Dr Benbow also added: "As with all prescriptions medicines, Seroxat does have side effects, but these are clearly stated in the information that's made available to doctors and to patients."

Taken on trust
21 Sep 04  |  Panorama
Medicines regulator 'under fire'
02 Oct 04  |  Health
'Upset and angry' at lack of action
03 Oct 04  |  Panorama
Q&A: Medicines regulation
03 Oct 04  |  Panorama
Information and helplines
01 Oct 04  |  Panorama
Self harm and stress groups
01 Oct 04  |  Panorama
Useful websites
03 Oct 04  |  Panorama
Why we needed to regulate
03 Oct 04  |  Panorama
Seven years of struggle
03 Oct 04  |  Panorama
'My problems with Seroxat'
03 Oct 04  |  Panorama
Your comments
01 Oct 04  |  Panorama


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