Side Effects: Death

January 30, 2010

Many of the horrific school, workplace and mass shootings that have plagued parts of the world over the years may not have occurred if the pharmaceutical industry had been completely honest about the side effects of psychotropic medication, according to the new book Side Effects: Death – Confessions of a Pharmaa Insider by former executive director of the Swedish Branch of Eli Lilly & Company John Virapen.

Virapen reports that anti-depressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were known to produce suicidal and homicidal side effect and depression during clinical trials. Thanks to spin marketing and pharmaceutically-funded articles in scientific journals, he points out that the adverse reactions were often ignored or given little thought by prescribing physicians and patients (video below).

Virapen also reports that the pharmaceutical industry has engaged in bribery and other major forms of corruption to gain approval for and in the marketing of many drugs used to treat such conditions as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, arthritis, pain, diabetes and many others. The industry also “makes up” illnesses to enhance sales and market shares, he says.

In May 2010, AstraZeneca paid a $520 million fine for the illegal marketing of Seroquel, which generated as much as $4 billion in 2009 revenues alone.  The AstraZeneca fine represents a fraction of the $7 billion in fines paid by the pharmaceutical industry since 2004.

To boost sales, Virapen writes, large pharmaceutical corporations spend about $35,000–$40,000 per year and per practicing doctor to persuade them to prescribe their products.  In addition to covering or “massaging” the negative effects of drugs, many of the companies engage in “off-label marketing,” which encourages physicians to prescribe the medicines for conditions for which they haven’t been approved, Virapen reveals.

Born in British Guyana, John Virapen went from a door-to-door conman to a pop star, to a pharmaceutical representative to executive director of one of the largest drug companies in the world. He admits to participating in bribery, false information and deception to help launch and market some of the most popularly prescribed (and most dangerous) drugs. In an effort to exorcise his demons and expose the tactics and dangers of the pharmaceutical industry, he wrote this expose.

The book has been published in four languages around the world and is a best-seller in Europe.

Side Effects: Death – Confessions of a Pharma Insider is available in softcover (ISBN 978-1-60264-516-5) and e-book (ISBN 978-1-60264-517-2) hardcover from,, and This book can also be ordered from most bookstores around the United States and United Kingdom. More information can be found at the book’s official website,

(E-Book available here)

John Virapen Video

Dr. John Virapen has worked more than 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry.  He is the former general manager of Eli Lilly and Company (Sweden) and was involved in the market launch of several drugs that have injured or killed millions of people around the world.  Dr. Virapen spoke at the Anti-Zensur Coalition in Chur, Switzerland in March 2009:

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