About

Know Your Drugs is a global awareness campaign to help people make informed choices about prescription drug use.

The campaign was developed by David Carmichael, Executive Director of the charitable organization Canadians for Vanessa’s Law (Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act). Previously, David was Executive Director of People’s Right to Integrative Medicine and Media Relations Officer at RxISK.

About David Carmichael

From 1985 to July 2004, David Carmichael had a successful career in the physical activity and sport sectors in Canada, including as Director of National Projects at ParticipACTION, Director of Research and Development at the Ontario Physical and Health Education Association (Ophea), High Performance Director at the Ontario Amateur Wrestling Association (OAWA), and Course Conductor at the National Coaching Institute Ontario.

In July 2004, shortly after starting the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant Paxil, David had a psychotic episode and took the life of his 11-year-old son, Ian, in a London, Canada hotel room. He was then charged with first-degree murder, judged not criminally responsible, and institutionalized. David received an absolute discharge from the Ontario Review Board in December 2009.

Lawsuit Against GlaxoSmithKline

In 2011, David filed a lawsuit against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the manufacturer of Paxil, claiming that they fraudulently concealed clinical trial data about suicidal and homicidal side effects, which prevented him from making an informed choice about use. His lawsuit was ultimately dismissed in 2021 by the Supreme Court of Canada based on a statute of limitations argument by GSK.

Preventing Other Tragedies

To help prevent other SSRI tragedies, David and his daughter talked about their family tragedy in the 2017 documentary Letters from Generation Rx, the 2017 BBC Panorama film A Prescription for Murder? and on The Dr. Oz Show in 2018.

The Carmichael family tragedy provided the basis for the CTV W5 episodes Over the Edge (2007) and The Problem with Pills (2021). David also talked about his family and described his Paxil-induced homicidal psychotic episode in this 2021 interview for “My Big Story,” a current affairs show produced by Channel 7 News in Australia.

This Tribute to Ian, which David produced in 2006, captures how he described Ian in his “My Big Story” interview. His daughter recorded the song.

Sung to Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are”

The Board of Directors are:

  • Dr. Nancy Olivieri
  • Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude
  • Dr. Leslie Balmer
  • Dr. Joel Lexchin

Vision

Canadians make informed choices about prescription drug use.

Mission

Helping Canadians make informed choices about prescription drug use by educating them about Vanessa’s Law and prescription drug safety.

Purpose

To advance education by providing educational materials, presentations, workshops, and consultations to Canadians on the:

  • Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act (Vanessa’s Law) and its implications on Canada’s healthcare system;
  • Safe and effective use of prescription drugs; and
  • Risks and benefits of prescription drugs.