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Joan Gadsby

Email to Editor, Independent on Sunday,
November 10, 2010


Re: Your November 7, 2010 Article "Drugs linked to brain damage 30 years ago"

I am bringing to your attention a very relevant 1982 publication by Health Canada entitled "The Effects of Tranquillization: Benzodiazepine Use in Canada, 1982 and available on Ray Nimmo's web site under Canada Information. Reference chapter 4. "Motor and Cognitive Impairment" included in this publication.

The late Dr. Reg Peart, Founder of the International Benzodiazepine Awareness Network chronicled 30 years of substantive research in this field of "doctor induced addiction" and the creation of "accidental addicts" - a major worldwide health epidemic. Dr. Peart had a particular focus on short and long term cognitive impairment from these insidious drugs, as do I.

I also referenced in my internationally endorsed book "Addiction By Prescription - One Woman's Triumph and Fight for Change" first published in 2000 of the seriousness of brain damage caused by benzodiazepines and my own experience going through extensive cognitive retraining in the 1990s to recover from the lingering and detrimental effects of the benzos which were prescribed long term - for 18 years after the death of my son, by my former doctor whom I trusted "to do no harm." Dr. Malcolm Lader and Dr. Heather Ashton endorsed my book.

When I present internationally on benzos - the last time in May this year to a University in southern Indiana in the US - I spend considerable time on the issue of brain damage and cognitive impairment caused by benzos.

Thank God I am off all those harmful drugs now for over 20 years and that I survived almost losing my life in February 1990 as a result of the benzos.

My colleagues and I in Canada commend your newspaper in publishing this article and support wholeheartedly the survivors of benzos in the UK and their continuing and concerted efforts to obtain justice and compensation for the harms benzos have caused to so many. This is a real tragedy that could have been prevented!

In Canada, there continues to be "lots of talk but little action" in addressing this issue primarily as a result of the lack of government and political will to do so, doctors' continuing ignorance, denial and apathy and drug companies focussed on bottom line profits.

I spent 12 years in my medical malpractice action against my former doctor which still left in 2004 the necessity to go through more costly and lengthy litigation to obtain justice and compensation.

For the past 20 years I have been focussed on regaining my health,the quality of my life and trying to recoup some of the more than $2million I lost as a direct result of the benzos.

In 2000 I developed a multi stakeholder strategic action plan and awareness campaign for benzodiazepines and proactively pursued funding to implement same from key stakeholders. Unfortunately and disappointingly, the availability of financing was minimal.

However, my passion remains to encourage and support others throughout the world whose lives and their families have been devastated by benzos, to seek justice and compensation and to continue with awareness of the serious and adverse effects of benzos.

Joan E. Gadsby

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