A personal investigation exposing the deadly secrets of Big Pharma and the multi-billion dollar industry of psychiatric diagnosis & medications.
After her sister died suddenly and unexpectedly while being treated with prescription antipsychotics, director Anniken Hoel begins a global investigation into the crimes of the pharmaceutical industry, the unheralded growth of psychiatric diagnoses and medication, and the corruption of the government regulatory agencies that have failed, repeatedly, to protect us.
Made over a ten-year period, the film is simultaneously personal and investigative as it follows Anniken as she seeks answers regarding not only the death of her sister, but of the tens of thousands worldwide who have also met a similar fate. Deaths and damages that until now have been all but ignored. Beginning in a small town in Norway, and journeying through Scandinavia, the EU and the US, the chilling documentary-thriller CAUSE OF DEATH: UNKNOWN exposes the inner workings and motivations of a powerful industry that continually puts profits before people, and has been far too influential in defining who is normal and who is "ill".
Un'indagine personale che svela i segreti mortiferi di Big Pharma e dell'industria multimiliardaria delle diagnosi psichiatriche e degli psicofarmaci.
Dopo che sua sorella è morta improvvisamente e inaspettatamente mentre veniva trattata con gli antipsicotici prescritti, la regista Anniken Hoel ha iniziato un'indagine globale sui crimini commessi dall'industria farmaceutica, sull'aumento di diagnosi e psicofarmaci psichiatrici e sulla corruzione delle agenzie governative che hanno omesso, ripetutamente, di proteggerci.
Realizzato in un periodo di dieci anni, il film è allo stesso tempo personale e investigativo, mentre segue Anniken che cerca le risposte riguardanti non solo la morte di sua sorella, ma anche di decine di migliaia di persone in tutto il mondo che hanno incontrato un destino simile. Morti e danni che finora sono stati quasi ignorati. L'agghiacciante documentario-thriller CAUSE OF DEATH: UNKNOWN inizia il suo viaggio in una piccola città in Norvegia e, percorrendo la Scandinavia, l'UE e gli Stati Uniti, espone i meccanismi interni e le motivazioni di una potente industria che mette continuamente i profitti prima delle persone, e ha avuto troppa influenza nel definire chi è normale e chi è "malato".
Antipsychotics have been responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths worldwide, but little is being done about that. What are they, how do they work, and what are their dangers?
What are antipsychotics?
Antipsychotics, also known as neuroleptics or major tranquilizers, are a class of medication primarily used to manage psychosis, principally in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They are, however, increasingly being used in the management of non-psychotic disorders. Antipsychotics can be effective in relieving symptoms of psychosis in the short term.
When did they first come into use?
The first antipsychotic, chlorpromazine, was not initially developed as a psychiatric drug -- it was being used as a pre-anesthetic to keep agitated surgical patients subdued. In 1952, French doctors began giving it to patients experiencing manic or psychotic episodes, and they found that it had a long-lasting calming effect. Marketed as Thorazine, it was the first commercially available antipsychotic. Similar drugs, such as Haldol, appeared over the next decades. In the 1980s and 90s a second generation of antipsycotics were introduced to the market (so-called atypical antipsychotics) -- including Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel, Clozaril and Geodon. This new generation was touted as being vastly superior to the older drugs.
How do they work?
The short answer is -- we don't know for sure. For decades, the pharmaceutical industry has embraced the chemical imbalance theory, which argues that all mental illnesses are caused by too much or too little serotonin or dopamine in the brain. This theory has been scientifically debunked many times, but it remains the go-to explanation by doctors and psychiatrists worldwide. Antipsychotics are meant to "fix" these imbalances, and though they do affect the production of chemicals in the brain, there is no long-term evidence that they help with the conditions for which they were prescribed.
Are they safe?
Hardly. The side effects of these early antipsychotics were severe. Involuntary, repetitive body movements (tardive dyskinesia), a decrease in white blood cell count (leukopenia) and a life-threatening reaction known as neuroleptic malignent syndrome were common. They also caused cardiac changes (QTc prolongation) that could lead to sudden death. The atypical antipsychotics were heralded as having far fewer dangerous side effects, but that wasn't true at all. The above-mentioned side effects all remained, and new ones, such as weight gain (often leading to diabetes) and an increased risk in cardiovascular disease made them no safer than their predecesors.
What is QTc Prolongation?
In cardiology, the QT interval is a measure of the time between the start and end of a wave in the heart's normal electrical cycle. A lengthened QT interval (QTc prolongation) is a marker for the potential of ventricular tachyarrhythmias like torsades de pointes and a risk factor for sudden death.
Is it dangerous to be taking more than one antipsychotic at a time?
Yes! The warning labels of all antipsychotics strongly advise against taking more than one drug of this class at a time. Yet the prescribing of multiple antipsychotics (polypharmacy) is a far-too-common practice. You can read more about this here.
If these drugs have such dangerous side effects, how did they become so popular?
As we reveal in the film, the industry suppressed and actively hid data that showed the dangerous side effects. On top of that, after the patent loss of Prozac, the industry began creating new uses (off-label) for antipsychotics for conditions in which they not only have no proven benefit, such as dementia, Alzheimer's, ADHD, and PTSD, but can be far more deadly than beneficial.
What should I do if a doctor prescribes me an antipsychotic?
As we mention in the film, for people with acute psychosis, the drugs can and do provide temporary relief from such episodes. However, in the long term the benefits are less proven. For conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer's, ADHD, or PTSD, you might want to read more on the subject, and speak frankly with your doctor about your concerns regarding side-effects and the difficulty in getting off the drugs.