Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Judging the benefits and harms of medicines

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 30 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j3129

Rapid Response:

Re: Judging the benefits and harms of medicines

As a patient who has sustained a brain injury after withdrawing from nitrazepam after 40 years’ consumption, I would like to suggest that doctors should listen to the experience of patients who have been thus harmed. I spend every day online communicating with other such patients. Having been sedated for four decades by a prescription drug, I have now “ woken up” to the realisation that I cannot trust the drug companies, the regulatory body, the medical literature or the medical profession itself. I now know why I have been unable to function normally for 40 years. Sadly, I am physically and cognitively disabled due to withdrawal and have a poor quality of life. Having consulted a variety of doctors I am dismayed that after four years I still have no accurate diagnosis of prescription drug damage. If such damage is not acknowledged or recorded, how can it be quantified or acted upon? Perhaps it is more convenient to keep such harm hidden. I now fully realise that my brain and body have gradually been poisoned over the past 40 years, I wonder why this was never mentioned by any of my many doctors during that time. I would have appreciated an opportunity to decide for myself if I wanted to risk the gradual destruction of my health and my life. No doubt my doctors imagine they did their best for me. They are sadly deluded. I now realise that there was never any informed consent on my part and I feel hugely betrayed as do most patients I meet online who are in a similar situation.

Competing interests: No competing interests

06 July 2017
Fiona H French