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Our Pill Epidemic
Press Release

October 27, 2000

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  • Each year Canadians swallow $6 billion in prescription drugs!

  • Long-term use of benzodiazepines (sleeping pills and tranquilizers) can result in brain damage!

  • 40% of impaired or dead drivers show prescription drugs in their systems!

These are the shocking effects of a society hooked on drugs, and a health care system that has turned hundreds of thousands of Canadians into medicine cabinet junkies.

Jack McGaw, award-winning documentary producer and former host of the popular consumer show "Live It Up" produced and hosts "Our Pill Epidemic", which initially aired on Canadian television in 1998. This powerful documentary examines how addiction to benzodiazepines (prescription tranquilizers and sleeping pills) can be more gripping and debilitating than addiction to heroin or cocaine. Many users of these (and other) legal drugs, prescribed by physicians, are unaware of the serious short and long-term effects, withdrawals, and in some cases, the potential for brain damage that may or may not be reversible.

"Our Pill Epidemic" exposes the walking wounded - the people who trusted their doctors and wound up losing their health, their jobs, their families, and years of their lives. It asks why and how this happens. It explores the new generation of users of antidepressants, such as Prozac, Tylenol, and Ritalin, with expert opinions from physicians, psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychopharmacologists, detox and treatment centre specialists, and counsellors in the field of chemical dependency.

The roles of doctors, pharmaceutical companies, government, pharmacists, and consumers are investigated with a strong CALL TO ACTION message to prevent this ongoing epidemic through education, acceptance of responsibility and accountability, and reduction within a market-driven system which creates a society crippled by the effects of mind and mood-altering drugs.

"Our Pill Epidemic" reveals the high cost of workplace safety and productivity loss by people using legal mood-altering drugs and divulges that the estimated health care costs of inappropriate prescriptions exceed $2.56 billion a year in Canada.

"Our Pill Epidemic" was in development for over 2 1/2 years, and was inspired by the real life experience of Marketing Executive and former North Vancouver District Councillor Joan E. Gadsby, who was prescribed tranquilizers and sleeping pills over 23 years after her son, Derek, died of a brain tumor. After almost losing her life from an unintentional overdose, Gadsby, who has been off all prescribed drugs for almost 10 years, has rebuilt her health and today lives a full and productive life.

Gadsby's passion, vision, and 9 1/2 years of international research into the over-prescribing of benzodiazepines, has been the driving force behind the documentary's development and production. She is Co-Executive Producer of "Our Pill Epidemic" with Jack McGaw, who is also a former Executive Producer of CTV's W5. In April 1997, Joan presented on the issue of over-prescribing benzodiazepines to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health in Ottawa. She has called for Senate Hearings on the subject, and founded the Vancouver-based Benzodiazepine Call-to-Action Group in 1995 which is committed to advocacy, systemic change and education.

Nominated and selected as one of Canada's notable women in 1994 by the Canadian University Women's Club. Joan's book "Addiction By Prescription" - One Woman's triumph and fight for change - which is internationally endorsed, was released by Key Porter Books, Toronto and will be distributed worldwide.

The documentary "Our Pill Epidemic" is a private/public sector funded program which has aired across Canada on 25 television stations on the Baton/CTV television network.

For further information and interviews contact:

Joan E. Gadsby, President
Market-Media International Corp.
4507 Cedarcrest Avenue, BC, V7R 3R2, Canada
Phone: (604) 987-6064 Fax: (604) 987-6063

For television broadcast rights contact Joan E. Gadsby

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