Kenneth Cleaver

Consumer Correspondent

Consumer Affairs SmithKline Beecham 100 Beecham Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15205

I enjoy your drug Paxil very much. While I occasionally hanker for the tart, fruity flavor of a Flintsones vitamin, I infinitely prefer the alleviation from desperate rumination your product offers. Despite the thousands of Americans who regularly take antidepressants, considerable stigma still surrounds their use.

The unspoken sentiment regarding antidepressants is that there is something wrong with the user. Failure to achieve happiness, or even a sustainable satisfaction with life, is anathema to a culture so passionate about success in both the personal and professional arenas. In an effort to provide succor and community to Paxil users, I think it would be great to organize social activities. My initial thought, I will confess, is a selfish one as it coincides with my favorite recreational activity: softball!!!

There might be enough Paxil users in certain areas to form a league. However, interdrug play will be inevitable with friendly rivalries between the Paxil Panthers and the Prozac Pirates. I would be delighted to organize a team and would very much like it if you could provide me with a list of other users to contact. I don’t think it imposing to ask SmithKline Beecham to defray uniform and equipment costs. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely, Kenneth Cleaver

Kenneth Cleaver POB 810 Bedford, NY 10506

Dear Mr. Cleaver,

Breaking down the stigma on anxiety disorders is a challenge we face each day. We agree that it is a formidable task to change societal beliefs that anxiety disorders are not diseases of the individual psyche, but rather clear, definable medical conditions. Society’s need to blame the sufferer is intolerable and must change.

We are pleased to hear that Paxil has helped you feel better about yourself and gain control of your life. You are one of the many survivors who can help society understand that anxiety is indeed a true medical condition. Unfortunately, we must decline your request for assistance in building an antidepressant softball league. While we cannot provide you with a shirt, I thought you might like a sample of some Paxil promotional items.

We wish you many “home runs” in every and all games you play.

Warmest regards, Barry Brand Project Director, Paxil

From the April 26-May 2, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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