Feb 1, 2020
This week on MIA Radio we chat with Professor John
Read of the University of East London. John worked for nearly 20
years as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health
services in the UK and the USA, before joining the University of
Auckland, New Zealand, in 1994, where he worked until 2013. He has
published over 140 papers in research journals, primarily on the
relationship between adverse life events (e.g. child abuse/neglect,
poverty, etc.) and psychosis. He also researches the negative
effects of biogenetic causal explanations on prejudice, the
opinions, and experiences of recipients of antipsychotic and
antidepressant medication, and the role of the pharmaceutical
industry in mental health research and practice.
John joins us to discuss the UK licensing of esketamine nasal
spray (Spravato) for so-called ‘Treatment Resistant Depression’.
John led a group of 12 academics and professionals who wrote to the
UK regulator expressing concerns about esketamine.
- Concerns about the basic concept of using derivatives of
hallucinogenic, addictive street drugs to address complex human
- The particular details of the clinical trials that raise
concerns about treatment with esketamine.
- How the US Food and Drug Administration approved Spravato in
January 2019 and the European Medicines Agency recommended that member states approve it
on October 17, 2019, giving 67 days for member states to
- That the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
for UK use.
- That there have been no trials of the efficacy of esketamine in
the medium or long term, with most trials being only four weeks
- That only one of the trials found a benefit for esketamine over
placebo, yet this was deemed sufficient for licensing by the USA’s
- That there were deaths and suicides recorded during the
esketamine clinical trials.
- The relationship between the drug regulators and funding from
the pharmaceutical manufacturers.
- How there was no response from the MHRA to the concerns raised
by John’s group.
- In addition, no reply was made to concerns raised by Sir Oliver
Letwin writing on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on
Prescribed Drug Dependence as well as letters from independent
researchers from Kings College London and a group of service
- A recent response to the
approval by the UK National Institute for Health and Care
- A response to the NICE
announcement from the Science Media Centre.