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International Task Force on Benzodiazepines 2018


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International Task Force on Benzodiazepines


The full text of the editorial is here: https://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/489538

Published online: May 22, 2018


There is now a movement within the scientific community that may be considered a pro-benzo campaign. As more and more articles appear in mainstream, as well as scientific literature, stating the harms of antidepressants, this group of researchers may be advocating the use of benzos.


This is very troubling. 


Excerpts from the article: 


  • This brief editorial is a statement to introduce a new working group on benzodiazepines, the International Task Force on Benzodiazepines, which comprises independent scientists, clinical researchers, and clinical psychopharmacologists. 


  • In spite of the unquestionable benefits of benzodiazepines and their popularity among physicians of various disciplines, we have witnessed a fairly negative campaign against benzodiazepines, which are often described as being readily abused (although their abuse liability is low and, if abuse occurs, it is in the context of other substance abuse). Interestingly, this campaign has intensified since the advent of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the mid-1990s. 


  • In addition, the scientific literature has gradually and surreptitiously been flooded with more and more articles on “negative” properties of benzodiazepines. While many of these publications have either not been based on good science or been frankly biased, they easily achieved a common goal that negative propaganda frequently reaches: they aroused suspicion of benzodiazepines and suggested difficulties in using them, while overlooking their benefits. 


  • The International Task Force on Benzodiazepines, as a group of investigators and clinical psychopharmacologists with long-standing clinical and scientific expertise, has been concerned about this excessively negative trend. We feel that benzodiazepines have not been given proper attention during the last 2–3 decades, they have not been adequately compared to other psychotropic medications in various indications, and their risks and side effects have been overemphasized. Some of us feel that benzodiazepines have been the subject of an unspoken “commercial war.”


I noticed two of the researchers, G.A. Fava and G. Chouinard, have both contributed to the scientific literature stating the harms of antidepressants and/or difficulties in AD withdrawal: For more, see: 


Papers by Dr. GA Fava, long-time critic of antidepressants


New Classification of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Withdrawal


Another of the listed researchers, S.L Dubovsky, was outspoken against the NYT article on the difficulty of withdrawing from antidepressants. So this researcher seems keen on minimizing the harms of both benzos and ADs and advocating the chemical balance.


Article: Mental health experts weigh in on NYT analysis of SSRI withdrawal concerns


In addition, the International Task Force on Benzodiazepines cites numerous conflicts of interest in associations with multiple pharmaceutical interests in the Disclosure Statement section of the article


So with the harms coming to light of the antidepressants, these researchers are reaching for benzos. It will interesting to see where this leads. 



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