Gwen Olsen: Well, I spent 15 years in thepharmaceutical industry. I went in 1985 and left in 2000. I workedfor a number of the major manufactures in the industry such as Johnson &Johnson, Bristol Myers Squib, Abbot Laboratories and Syntex Laboratories.During that time I was a specialty rep for the vast majority of my career. So,I had extensive training because I called on specialists and the academians inmedicine. I called primarily on psychiatry, cardiology, endocrinology, and OBGYN throughout my career. I sold a number of drugs and a number of differentcategories of drugs.
As I started to get further educated I realizedthat the information I was being given to disseminate to doctors was not fairbalanced, that it was not inclusive or all inclusive of the good, the bad, andthe ugly that they needed to know in order to make informed decisions aboutwhat they prescribed for their patients.
Throughout my career I changed employers severaltimes because during the 1990's there were downsizings and mergers and all thatsort of thing. So, for various reasons I changed employers a couple of timesand started to see that this was something that was rampant within theindustry. It was not just exclusive to one particular manufacturer, that repswere being trained to misinform and disinform providers of health care.
I got very upset about that. After I had acouple of very serious adverse drug reactions from testing my own wears andtaking the product that doctors prescribed for me I realized that what I wasdoing was contributing to harming Americans rather than helping the health ofthe country and I quit and got out. I had no intention whatsoever of being awhistle blower, or writing a book, or anything because basically when youbecome a whistle blower you lose all of your benefits, because we sign aspharmaceutical reps a confidentiality agreement. So, we are not allowed to talkabout the inside workings and controversy about the industry or you forfeit allof your benefits.
I had a niece who was 20 years old and she wasattending Indiana University. She got into a car accident. They prescribedVicodan for her, hydrocodone for pain. She became addicted to the hydrocodoneand had difficulties studying, because she was a premed student at IndianaUniversity and she was trying to study for her exams.
She went to a local health food store and boughtsome Ephedra, a stimulant, to take to try and counteract the sedative effectsof her pain killers. When she took the drugs concomitantly she becamemanic-psychotic. She was labeled as having bipolar illness and they didnot identify she had a drug toxicity reaction. She started her journey of beinga mental patient and being on psychiatric drugs and for a period of a couple ofyears she was off and on a number of different drugs. She was on a cocktail ofabout 13 different drugs at one period in time.
She decided the drugs were making her more illand causing her more symptoms, so she quit the drugs cold turkey and started trying to detoxify and taking nutritional supplements and thingsof that nature. I was not aware at that time because I had never soldantidepressants that you could not just cold turkey off antidepressants.
As soon as she went into a psychotic tail spinbecause she had gone off the drugs, I started doing my research and that iswhat actually then evolved into the book because eventually my niece was toldby her mother, my sister, that she had to go back on the drugs because she wasstill suffering from severe depression and that's is what the doctors hadadvised that my sister do, is to put her back on the drugs. She needs to be ondrugs for the rest of her life because that's the agenda. When my sister calledher to tell her she was going to come home and forcibly take her back to thepsychiatrist, she poured oil over herself from and angel shaped lanternthat was in one of her sister's bedrooms and she burned herself alive. She madethe decision that she was not going to be crazy and on psychiatric drugs forthe rest of her life.
At that point, I recognized I had nowhere elseto go but out with the information I had and what I was uncovering. I becameextremely angry when I saw the amount of collusion and cover up andmisinformation that had taken place from the get-go. When the antidepressantsand all the clinical data showed they were not efficacious, that there wasextreme risk involved especially with young adults and children and here theywere giving them out like candy to all of our kids and all of our young adults.I just decided I had no choice but to speak out and my book that was going tobe an expose about the over drugging of Americans became anautobiography/warning to the public.
Gwen Olsen discusses her background as a pharmaceutical sales representative. She talks about the dark side of the business that she uncovered and what happened that ultimately led her to get out and speak against the industry.
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