Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Danish doctor is being sued for telling the truth

In reference to my previous post about the petition to change the British libel laws (you can find the petition here), here's a concrete example.

The story
A Danish researcher and radiologist Henrik Thomsen is being sued for libel by GE Healthcare (part of the huge GE conglomerate) after he raised a concern about health risks connected with one of their drugs (Omniscan, which is used as a contrast agent).

And of course the suit is taking place in Britain with their notoriously draconian libel laws.

Henrik Thomsen talked about findings, which were accumulated over several years and in many patients, that indicated side effects of NFS (nephrogenic systemic fibrosis) in kidney patients who had been scanned with the use of the contrast agent Omniscan.
GE sued him for libel because of that. They don't care about the danger to all of us, they care about silencing critics.

The drug
Omniscan has been suspected for years to cause NFS in kidney patients, but GE Healthcare doesn't seem to care (here's a news story from 2008 in a Danish newspaper).
The problem here is that kidney patients cannot get rid of the toxic metal gadolinium, which is being used in Omniscan, and it is causing potentially life threatening problems.

The lawsuit
Not only has GE spent more than 100000's of pounds suing Henrik so far, but they've completely disregarded the fact that medical boards and commissions have raised similar concerns at other times. And the use of Omniscan for kidney patients has been discouraged since 1995 (in Danish).

The reason this is being brought up now (after 2 years) is that Henrik has recently counter-sued GE for libel in an attempt to use their own misguided weapons against themselves (in Danish, in English).

What can we do
It is about time we did something to stop this oppresion of free speech and gagging of critical scientists. If a drug is found to be dangerous, it is not only the right but also the obligation of everyone involved in the study to speak up and inform the public of the danger.
But the British libel laws allow companies to silence critics, even if they are right.

Please sign the petition immediately if you haven't yet.
And please ask the people around you to voice their opinion and sign the petition as well.