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 on Long-Term Athlete Development 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, so he was not able to put Paxil on Trial.

Preventing Other Tragedies

To help prevent other SSRI tragedies, David and his daughter Gillian 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.

Letters from Generation Rx interview with Gillian

“My dad and I have always been really close. Both my parents did everything for my brother and I. If there was a sport we wanted to pick up, or something that we wanted to do, we did everything.

My dad built my brother a halfpipe in our backyard, and it was like a professionally built halfpipe. This thing was phenomenal, and we had kids from all over the neighbourhood come there to ride it because it was huge.

My brother got into dirt jumping as well, so my dad built my brother a dirt jump at our cottage. My brother would just spend hours out there, and he loved it. We were the ideal family.”

Tribute to Ian

Produced to Gillian’s 2006 recording of Josh Groban’s “To Where You Are”

Vanessa’s Law is named after Vanessa Young, who died on March 19, 2000 when she was 15 years old of a heart attack caused by Prepulsid, a prescription drug that Health Canada removed from the market on August 7, 2000

Vanessa’s father, Terence Young, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Oakville, Ontario from 2008 to 2015, introduced the federal law as a Private Member’s Bill (C-17) on December 6, 2013. It received Royal Assent on November 6, 2014 after being passed unanimously in the House of Commons and Senate.

The Board of Directors of the charitable organization Canadians for Vanessa’s Law are:

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


Canadians make informed choices about prescription drug use.


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


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.