PAXIL: Athlete Wrongly Given Pacemaker for Paxil-Induced Heart Malfunction – FL

NOTE FROM Ann Blake-Tracy (

Although Paul’s case is an older case I have only this week found my copy
of excellent this article so had not been able to send it out before now,
but feel it is extremely important to include in our database. Others need to be
aware of the effects of SSRI antidepressants upon the heart, even in those who
are in excellent physical condition. I would encourage you to read the entire
article as it is full of very important information of drug approvals, financial
ties between drug companies and the FDA, Paxil withdrawal effects, the common
ignorance of doctors about these adverse effects and their unwillingness to
admit them even in the face of glaring evidence.
His “abnormal” heart rhythms come from having the benign “athletic
heart syndrome,” a sign of a super heart. The original fainting was probably due
to taking Paxil; the later problems were likely due to withdrawal from it.
Even with this confirmation, Paul had to go to more than 20 doctors
before he found one who would remove the pacemaker. Paul is recovering from his
ordeal; he is able to walk a mile now, although previously he could run 50.

The Science
of Deceit

by Burton Goldberg

The mainstream media
regularly reports on the “dangers” of “unproven” herbal remedies and
supplements. But what is the reported number of people who have died from using
herbs and supplements? According to the FDA, between 1993 and 1998, federal,
state and local agencies reported a total of 184 deaths, most of which were
associated with weight loss formulas. Compare that to the reported number of
people who die in hospitals because of the side effects of properly prescribed
pharmaceutical drugs: more than 100,000, every year. You can add to that the
number of patients killed in hospitals because of “medical errors”: another
100,000 or so. Those statistics are from the Journal of the American Medical
Association (JAMA). This means that the ordained guardians of our health kill as
many people every week as died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.

And that number only includes people who died in hospitals. A 1998
JAMA article estimated that more than 2 million people require hospitalization
every year because of the adverse side effects of drugs. Moreover, it is widely
conceded that the number of adverse reactions and fatalities attributable to
prescription drugs is actually many times the number

Statistics aside, let’s put a face on what I’m
talking about. Paul Domb is the son of a dear friend of mine. Two years ago,
Paul was a 41-year-old endurance athlete who had run thousands of road races,
hundreds of triathlons and other world-class endurance events. Paul had
regularly trained twice a day for 20 years to stay in competitive shape, so it
was hard for him to understand why he should begin to experience anxiety and
panic attacks. He went to a psychologist who, after a few sessions, recommended
that Paul take the antidepressant drug Paxil. Paul was reluctant, but his
anxiety was affecting his work in corporate real estate, so he started taking a
daily dose of 20 mg.

About three weeks later, Paul was set to begin
an early morning swim when he felt his heart suddenly speed up. For the first
time in his life, he felt faint and lost consciousness. He fell backward,
crashing onto a metal pool chair. He revived after several seconds, and felt
ready to continue his workout, but his training partner convinced him to take it
easy and go home. Paul related the incident to his wife, who insisted he go to
the hospital for an examination.

At the hospital, he underwent an
extensive battery of tests. They took Paul’s medical history, asking what
medications he was on, and took brain scans, electrocardiograms and various
other tests. Paul’s electrocardiogram measuring his heartbeat rhythms showed an
unusual pattern. A cardiologist specializing in heart rhythms was called in. He
told Paul that he needed to put a catheter up Paul’s groin to stimulate the

heart in an effort to reproduce the earlier arrhythmia. Paul refused, but the
physician told him that a previous patient with the same symptoms who refused
the test died soon after. Scared into it, Paul took the test. Afterward, the
doctor came back with the bad news: Paul had a rare disorder called Brugada
Syndrome. Without having a pacemaker/defibrillator inserted, he was told, his
heart could suddenly stop and he could drop dead at any moment.

There was worse news: The disease was genetic and the possibility
existed that Paul’s 5-year-old daughter had the same condition and could die at
any time.

Paul had the pacemaker inserted. Unfortunately, his
doctors did not take into account that he was a competitive athlete, and they
set the parameters of the pacemaker wrong. Whenever Paul went to sleep, his

heart rate dropped below “standard,” and the device would rapidly pace his
heart. Paul was unable to get more than two hours of sleep at a time. Although
the doctors eventually reset his pacemaker, that was just the beginning of what
became almost six months of physical and emotional hell. He was nauseated, but
vomiting brought no relief. He frequently had convulsions. Electric shocks would
shoot through his body 30 or 40 times a day, sometimes violent enough to cause
him to fall. He started having recurring thoughts of suicide ‹or violence
toward others. And through it all he was tortured by the fear that his daughter
was going to die because of the genes he had passed on to her. Paul traveled the
country, seeking an answer, but no doctor could help him. So Paul buried himself
in research, trying to find a solution to his problems. And then one day he
happened to catch the TV news show 20/20. On it were people describing exactly
the same symptoms as he had, only they didn’t have Brugada Syndrome ‹they were
suffering side effects of trying to withdraw from Paxil.

Paul could
hardly believe it. His doctor had told him to stop taking Paxil before his heart
surgery. Paul started studying Paxil, and what he found shocked and enraged him.
He discovered an astounding pattern of apparently deliberate deception by
SmithKline Beecham (now called GlaxoSmithKline), the manufacturer of Paxil,
withholding information on the dangers of this drug from the FDA and the medical
community. In June 2001, GlaxoSmithKline lost a lawsuit when a Wyoming jury
awarded $6.4 million to the family of a man who killed three relatives and
himself after taking the antidepressant. The verdict was based on the company’s
failure to sufficiently warn doctors and patients that the effects of the drug
could include violence. It has since come to light that 20% of patients
worldwide who were prescribed Paxil for depression stopped taking it because of
suffering adverse effects. And effects of withdrawal include intense insomnia;
vertigo; electric shocks; profuse night sweats; nausea; extreme confusion;
intense fear of losing sanity; and thoughts of suicide and homicide. A class
action filed in San Diego, representing thousands of victims of Paxil is

Paul then went to an expert: Pedro Brugada, the physician
son of Dr. Ramon Brugada, for whom the condition is named. Brugada the younger
looked at all of Paul’s records and told him that he didn’t have Brugada
Syndrome. Other experts concurred. Paul was told that the hospital’s original
procedure to reproduce arrhythmia “would’ve brought a horse down.” His
“abnormal” heart rhythms come from having the benign “athletic heart syndrome,”
a sign of a super heart. The original fainting was probably due to taking Paxil;
the later problems were likely due to withdrawal from it.

Even with
this confirmation, Paul had to go to more than 20 doctors before he found one
who would remove the pacemaker. Paul is recovering from his ordeal; he is able
to walk a mile now, although previously he could run 50. Despite off-the-record
confirmations of incompetence and negligence in Paul’s misdiagnosis and
treatment, not one physician would sign a letter to that effect, or agree to
testify on his behalf. Now, multiply Paul’s story by thousands, by millions,
every year, and you can understand my anger over sensationalistic headlines
about the “dangers” of taking herbs like St. John’s wort.

Here are
some truths about the “scientific” testing of pharmaceutical drugs that you
probably are not aware of. Did you know that the research information contained
in the Physicians’ Desk Reference  (the pharmaceutical bible used by M.D.s
)is supplied by the drug manufacturers themselves? Did you know that the FDA
approves drugs not by actually doing the testing, but simply by reviewing
studies submitted by the drug manufacturers? Did you know that a drug
manufacturer needs to submit only two studies showing satisfactory results to
get a drug approved by the FDA‹even if there are even more studies showing the
drug causes adverse reactions in an unacceptably high number of cases?

Did you know that most of the articles discussing the efficacy of
drugs that are published in medical journals are studies paid for by the drug
manufacturer? And that often, as the New York Times reported last summer, the
academic scientists listed as lead authors are often just “window dressing, to
lend credibility to papers that are really the work of drug companies. The
academic scientists’ main role in such studies is to recruit patients and
administer experimental treatments. The scientists or their universities are
paid for this work.”

And did you know that a study conducted by USA
Today found that more than half of the experts hired to advise the government on
the safety and effectiveness of medicine had a direct financial interest in the
drug or topic were asked to evaluate? An analysis of financial conflicts of
interest at 159 FDA advisory committee meetings from January 1, 1998, through
June 30, 2000, found that at 92% of the meetings, at least one member had a
financial conflict of interest, while at 55% of meetings, half or more of the
FDA advisers had conflicts of interest. These conflicts included helping a
pharmaceutical company develop a medicine, then serving on an FDA advisory
committee that judges the drug.

You may not know that a significant
portion of your tax dollars earmarked for healthcare goes to research on
patentable drugs that make billions of dollars for drug companies. The
government should fund research into nontoxic, non-patentable remedies at a much
higher level than it is presently doing. This situation again points out the
need for political action, for campaign reform. For 2001, the budget for the
National Institutes of Health was $20 billion. This amount could be doubled by
2003. Approximately 83% of this is spent on research performed outside the NIH.
This is serious money, and most of it goes to developing patentable drugs.

A recent article in the New York Times revealed that the
pharmaceutical industry spent $177 million on lobbying in 1999 and 2000: That’s
$50 million more than their nearest rival, the insurance industry. They employ
more lobbyists (625) than there are members of Congress ‹and more than half of
the lobbyists are former members of Congress, congressional staff members or
government employees.

This shows how important it is to get involved
politically, and work for campaign-finance reform. It’s also time for individual
physicians to take responsibility for their actions, and stop being pawns in the
economic games played by the drug and health insurance industries. Physicians
will change only if their patients demand it. Reform will only come from market
forces, which means you: how you spend your money on healthcare, and on
charitable and political donations. Get informed, take responsibility for your
own health, and choose your doctors and medicines wisely.

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Ann Blake-Tracy

Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
(DrugAwareness.Org & SSRIstories.Net)
Author: ”Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare – The Complete Truth of the Full Impact of Antidepressants Upon Us & Our World” & Withdrawal CD “Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!”

She has specialized since 1990 in adverse reactions to serotonergic medications (such as Prozac, Sarafem, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro, Effexor, Serzone, Remeron, Anafranil, Fen-Phen, Redux and Meridia as well as the new atypical antipsychotics Zyprexa, Geodon, Seroquel and Abilify), as well as pain killers, and has testified before the FDA and congressional subcommittee members on antidepressants.

WITHDRAWAL WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

WITHDRAWAL HELP: You can find the hour and a half long CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here: And if you need additional consultations with Ann Blake-Tracy, you can book one at or sign up for one of the memberships for the International Coalition for Drug Awareness which includes free consultations as one of the benefits of that particular membership plan. You can even get a whole month of access to the withdrawal CD with tips on rebuilding after the meds, all six of my DVDs, hundreds of radio interviews, lectures, TV interviews I have done over the years PLUS my book on antidepressants with more information than you will find anywhere else for only $30 membership for a month (that is only $5 more than the book alone would cost) at (Definitely the best option to save outrageous postage charges for those out of the country!)

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