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Suicide and Depression

We’ve lost another wonderful person to the darkness of despondency.

The full story is here. This tragedy motivated me to finally finish an e-book about my decades-long battle with depression, and the recovery that has taken place over the past 7 years.

It was an anti-depressant that gave me my life back. What we do in our industry, maligned as it often is in the public press, matters.

Thank you for reading, and being part of the Impactiviti network.

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TODAY’S NEWS

Valeant goes for the niches. Deliberately.

Eli Lilly still chopping positions – Eli Lilly and Co. plans to cut 200 sales and marketing support jobs Friday in its U.S. biomedicine group, with more than half of those cuts taking place in Indianapolis, a company spokesman confirmed Thursday. The cuts are the latest wave of the drugmaker’s previously announced plans to chop 5,500 jobs worldwide by the end of 2011 in response to financial pressuresmore

InVentiv to be acquired by private equity firm.

Bayer gets new type of contraceptive approved – The Food and Drug Administration approved Natazia, which is the first in the U.S. to deliver doses of its two female hormones at four times during the drug’s 28-day treatment cycle, the agency said today in a statementmore. But then, what about that mystery recall of Yaz last year – who knew??

I don’t know, Mr Harper (Forbes) – isn’t it more accurate to say that an application has been rejected, rather than that a drug has been rejected, when a Complete Response Letter is issued? The semantics are important.

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Down – like, seriously depressed? Get Some Help.

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More doctors giving drug reps the cold shoulder. And, sunlit leaves in dark shadow (pic).

JUST FOR FUN

Astonishing stuff – A Showcase of 3-D Street Art Paintings. How do people do this?

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What if you were afflicted by major depression, AND obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), AND manic-depressive tendencies, AND anxiety issues – what would you be?

Well, Therese Borchard, I guess!

I just finished reading her story in her book Beyond Blue (Surviving Depression and Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes), which grew out of her Beyond Blue blog. Therese was kind enough to send me a copy for review and I read it through over the span of a couple weeks.

Why would I care about such a book? Well, because of my own history with depression. There’s a unique window of understanding that fellow sufferers have, and I found it fascinating to trace Therese’s thoughts and experiences in this volume.

And, I also felt immensely grateful that I did not experience the cocktail of disorders she seeks to survive daily!

Now I’ll come right out and say that unless you are suffering with one of these disorders, or seeking to help someone else who is, you might find it to be heavy weather navigating Beyond Blue. However, for those with skewed brain chemistry, this is a valuable resource, for one overriding reason: You’re not alone.

The greatest value of Terese’s writing is that she very transparently, and often humorously, describes the day-to-day travails of living with a mind that refuses to stay within “normal” bounds. For those suffering with these afflictions, it can be tremendously lonely to experience the guilt, the confusion, the hopelessness that cannot be controlled by force of will. When she describes considering suicide 20 times a day, you cringe – but that’s a silent and hideous reality for many folks, and Therese forthrightly lays it all out there.

Her writing style reflects her thought patterns, so there is an interesting “jumpiness” and spontaneity in the the book. This is not a highly structured medical treatise, but almost a train-of-thought account of living with multiple conditions. That humanity, that surprising candor, is what makes this Terese’s story in a unique way. As a wife and mother, she is very open about how mental illness impacts her relationships. She’s a very lovable nutcase (yes, she refers to herself in such language!) and I’d love to stroll around Annapolis and talk with her further!

I found the book moving, not because of its literary style, but because of its raw humanity. It’s not easy to admit to struggles with mental illness. People don’t understand why you walk under a dark cloud, why you feel like the most worthless person to walk the planet, why drugs (and other interventions) may be an absolute necessity to achieve day-to-day sanity. Therese is providing a valuable service to many just by being herself and hanging it all out there, dirty laundry and all.

And so I will take this opportunity to thank her, not just for sending the book, but for being Therese. There’s a whole bunch of folks out there who need help getting beyond blue.

UPDATE: Two wonderful posts appeared this week, giving personal stories about depression and encouraging more openness (from Amber Naslund and Ellen Nordahl). I encourage you to read them. And if you think you’re afflicted….Get Some Help.

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TODAY’S NEWS

Delay on inhaled insulin – a case of FDA “ooops”??

Roches‘s Actemra (RA treatment) approved by FDA – The Food and Drug Administration cleared the medicine, Actemra, in adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, the Swiss drugmaker said today in a statement released by its South San Francisco, California-based Genentech unit. The FDA delayed approval in 2008 after the drug was backed by the agency’s outside advisersmore

All that hubbub from the story about how well anti-depressants really work: this is a pretty telling paragraph from the NY Times – That story begins to take shape when you consider what the new study actually said: Antidepressants do work for very severely depressed people, as well as for those whose mild depression is chronic. However, the researchers found, the pills don’t work for people who aren’t really depressed — people with short-term, minor depression whose problems tend to get better on their own. For many of them, it’s often been observed, merely participating in a drug trial (with its accompanying conversation, education and emphasis on self-care) can be anti-depressant enoughmore

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Want to try a visually simple, on-line to-do list? Check out TeuxDeux.

JUST FOR FUN

A classic: The Saturday Night Live “Chicken of the Sea” skit.

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TODAY’S NEWS

So…is Roche‘s Tamiflu really that effective? – The effectiveness of Roche Holding AG’s Tamiflu in treating flu complications in healthy adults can’t be determined because the Swiss drugmaker wouldn’t supply data from eight studies, an independent research group saidmore

The pharma layoff toll in 2009. Ugly.

Pfizer to move into biosimilars? Not a bad long-term strategy, actually: focused diversification – Pfizer Inc., which became the biggest drugmaker selling widely prescribed pills such as the Lipitor heart medicine, is preparing to enter the business of making cheaper copies of pricey, injectable drugs from biotechnologymore

Do those anti-depressants work? Maybe at a deeper level than previously thought – Antidepressant medications taken by roughly 7% of American adults cause profound personality changes in many patients with depression, far beyond simply lifting the veil of sadness, a study has found. Researchers saw strong drops in neuroticism and increases in extroversion in patients taking antidepressants, two of five traits thought to define personality and shape a person’s day-to-day thoughts and behavior. The findings are striking, researchers said, because psychologists have long thought that such fundamental traits are moorings of an adult’s personality that shift very little over a lifetimemore

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Major surgery at Sanofi. How the transformation of a top 5 pharma company is taking place.

JUST FOR FUN

Not all subways are boring. Check out the architecture of these!

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I’m enjoying a two-day conference on the empowered health consumer (ePatients 2009) – one of the most enjoyable aspects being hearing directly from people with diseases (such as diabetes) who are living out the management of their conditions on-line.

I was taken aback late yesterday when one of the diabetes bloggers mentioned the constant GUILT that they labor under – and others chimed in to confirm this. This had not occurred to me before – just take your meds and manage your diabetes, right? Umm…no. It’s much more complex, apparently, and impacts people on many levels.

guiltyLater, while chewing on this, I realized that I did understand – I labored for decades under the relentless assault of undiagnosed and untreated depression, and sure enough, I lived with the guilt of it every day – not feeling the things I knew that I should, and constantly pushing the stone uphill every day in an unending cycle of self-doubt. Feeling like a burden to others. Feeling like I’m not overcoming.

So now this has me wondering – is this a regular “feature” of these long-standing, somewhat-manageable diseases? Even when you’re being treated? I’m very curious about the experiences of others with diabetes, or CF, or MS, or other conditions – are you taking your meds with a dose of guilt each day? Please give your insight in the comments. Your voice is important.

[and read this related post from Kerri Sparling, who has first-hand experience. The last sentence is the payoff]

(Image credit)

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Pharma Social Media resources: SocialRx

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