Letter: `Lifestyle' drugs
Monday 19 October 1998
Sir: Your editorial "Who should pay for the `lifestyle' pills?" (9 October) contains important misconceptions. Drugs such as paroxetine do not immediately produce benefit in social anxiety disorder. The effect builds up over a period of weeks or months, quite different from the "quick fix" treatments such as tranquillisers, alcohol or even Coca-Cola.
You label paroxetine as a "lifestyle" drug. I take that to mean drugs which have no real medical utility but simply improve the way people feel about themselves or about life. A vast amount of evidence reveals social anxiety disorder to be a pervasive and debilitating condition that disrupts all aspects of sufferers' existence over years, even decades. I think you should not trivialise sufferers by equating the only proven effective treatment with a soft drink.
The editorial does address an important issue: what is the purpose of the NHS? One of its major roles must be to reduce suffering, and I can provide with you many testimonies from patients who have suffered enormously from their severe social anxiety and who would find it very difficult to fund treatment privately were your new-look NHS to view anxiety disorders as being outside its remit. I hope you weren't suggesting that other chronic illnesses that do not respond to emergency treatment - such as arthritis, diabetes and asthma - would also have to be paid for privately?
Professor DAVID NUTT
School of Medical Sciences
University of Bristol
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
ReviewThese heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Jack the Ripper: Scientist who claims to have identified notorious killer has 'made serious DNA error'
- 2 Banksy arrest hoax: Internet duped by fake online report claiming artist's identity has been revealed
- 3 Former East 17 frontman Brian Harvey turns up at Downing Street and 'demands to speak to Prime Minister'
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after treatment by British doctors on brink of 'cure'
James Blunt finally admits the truth: 'You're Beautiful' is annoying
Downton Abbey review series 5, episode 5: Period drama falls disappointingly flat
Star Wars Episode 7 has almost finished filming
Fury, film review: Brad Pitt is intriguing as unsympathetic war hero
Batman v Superman: Side-kick Robin to be 'woman played by Jena Malone'
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Jose Manuel Barroso warns David Cameron against making 'historic mistake' over immigration reforms
Worst Airports of 2014: Poll names Islamabad airport in Pakistan worst in the world