The use of patients as human guinea pigs
Firstly, I would like to clarify one particularly relevant point. Despite the fact that all the medical instructions that I received from Dr Curson were provided to me in writing on Priory Hospital Roehampton headed letter paper, the Priory Hospital has done its utmost to disassociate itself from the treatment that I received. However, from a letter written to me by Dr Curson, it is clear that he was not the only psychiatrist at The Priory Hospital Roehampton to be experimenting this potentially dangerous combination of antidepressant drugs on Priory Hospital patients.
I believe that I unknowingly took part in what can only be described as an informal trial of an experimental combination of antidepressant drugs. I say this for the following reasons, firstly, at the time that I was advised to take this combination, both drugs were relatively new and no information existed to justify the safety of their use in combination. This is something that Dr Curson acknowledged in a letter to me when he wrote “there is nothing in the literature about this treatment”. Secondly, as far as I am aware, the first formal trials for this combination of antidepressant drugs did not take place until two years after psychiatrists at The Priory Hospital Roehampton undertook their own “informal trials”.
I have described below what I believe to be the first formal trials for this treatment. The difference in approach between the formal trial and that undertaken by Dr David Curson at The Priory Hospital Roehampton could not be further removed. The hospital undertaking the formal trial first obtained permission from the hospital’s institutional review board and then obtained written informed consent from the participants prior to the trial commencing. No doubt the participants were also carefully monitored. In my case, I was advised me to take the combination of drugs by facsimile and was provided with no medical supervision whatsoever.
Double-blind placebo-controlled study
Having researched the use of venlafaxine and mirtazapine being used in combination, I discovered that two years after I had been prescribed this experimental combination of drugs, a double-blind placebo-controlled study was carried out in the USA. 26 adults with persistent major depression were invited to participate in the trial and received either mirtazapine or placebo augmentation over a four-week period. Prior to the trial commencing, approved was sought from the hospital’s institutional review board and written informed consent was obtained from the volunteers after procedures had been fully explained to them. Of the 26 volunteers, 3 discontinued the trial prematurely due to intolerable side effects. The results of the study were published by the Society of Biological Psychiatry.
The informal approach of Dr Curson at The Priory Hospital Roehampton
The approach and standard of care that I received from Dr Curson at The Priory Hospital, Roehampton could not have been further removed from the study described by the Society of Biological Psychiatry. Evidently, Dr Curson and other psychiatrists at The Priory Hospital Roehampton had taken it upon themselves to conduct their own trials on unsuspecting patients. At no time was I advised that I was taking part in such a trial and at no time was I asked to provide my consent to do so. Also, no doubt the patients who took part in the double-blind placebo-controlled study described above were carefully monitored. By comparison, I received no medical supervision whatsoever.