"Now," Ricky added, "I look forward to traveling across the country to speak to large groups about taking the first step towards a better life."
The press release said that, just two years ago, Ricky had dreaded speaking to his teammates, fans or the media due to his condition. However, since "receiving treatment with therapy and Paxil," Glaxo wrote, "Ricky has been able to socialize without anxiety and use his recognition in the public as a football player to help others who may be suffering like he did."
And if Glaxo is to be believed, SAD was an epidemic in the US in 2003. "Ricky is just one of more than 10 million Americans to suffer from social anxiety disorder," the press release reported.
SAD was described as a "condition marked by an intense fear of being scrutinized by other people in social or performance situations and of negative evaluation," and the third most common psychiatric disorder in the US after depression and alcoholism.
The press release even included a link to a web site for readers who wanted to download a list of Terry and Ricky's tips or learn more about their stories. By clicking on the link, people could also learn about National Anxiety Disorders Screening Day and obtain a list of screening sites all across the country.
However, a little over a year after praising Paxil as a cure-all, in July 2004, Ricky did an about face. He announced his early retirement from football, and at the same time relinquished any hope of winning the Paxil "celebrity spokesman" of the year award when he declared during an interview with Dan Le Batard, a reporter for the Miami Herald and ESPN The Magazine, that he had found "marijuana to be 10 times more helpful than Paxil."
It should be noted that the link to the web site no longer provides access to tips or stories about Ricky Williams.
However, at first glance, Paxil seemed to be back on top of its game the following year, when the announcement came that Glaxo had won an award for its achievements in promoting Paxil in 2004, from the Prescription Access Litigation Project.
PAL hosts an annual event known as the "Bitter Pill Awards: Exposing Drug
Industry Manipulation of Consumers," to call attention to the harm caused by runaway drug advertising. For the year 2004, PAL presented "The Cure for the Human Condition Award: For Hawking Pills to Treat the Trials of Everyday Life," to Glaxo stating:
"This past year, the recipient of our award, GlaxoSmithKline, was repeatedly taken to task for practices related to its antidepressant, Paxil. In June, the FDA issued a warning letter to GlaxoSmithKline for its "Hello, My Name is." television ad campaign for Paxil.
"The FDA said that this ad wrongfully "suggests that anyone experiencing anxiety, fear, or self-consciousness in social or work situations is an appropriate candidate for Paxil CR" when these are simply not approved uses of the drug. Despite the warning letter, the harm had already been done as millions of consumers had already seen the ad.
"Marketing campaigns that encourage people to take strong medications like antidepressants for the normal "anxiety, fear or self-consciousness" that we all feel on occasion are deeply irresponsible and show the harms that Direct to Consumer Advertising can cause."
PAL noted that in 2004, Paxil had more than $870 million in sales and Glaxo had the 2nd highest drug company sales of $18.8 billion.
Over the past several years, a steady stream of studies have shown Paxil is associated with serious health problems in infants born to women taking the drug during pregnancy.
In September 2005, the results of studies conducted by Danish and US researcher determined that the use of SSRIs in the first three months of pregnancy was linked to a 40% increased risk of birth defects such as cleft palate and a 60% more likely risk of cardiac defects.