Project: MAOIs, International Guidelines and WHO ‘Essential Medicines’ Listing

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  • Post last modified:18 June 2022


On behalf of the PsychoTropical team (Vince, Philip, Lila, Sophie) and the many eminent co-authors of our first ever ‘MAOI treatment guidelines’ paper, I am announcing our new WHO project charity trust.This is a formally constituted charitable trust registered in London UK and the funds donated can only be used exclusively for the WHO project activities,as defined in the trust deed, about which there are details below—they are quite separate to any funds donated to Dr Gillman and the PsychoTropical website.WHO project is a major undertaking the purpose of which is to make a detailed submission to the WHO committee that decides on the drugs that should be placed on the Essential Medicines List.This will involve a lot of work and when it is successfully completed will be the most influential step ever in facilitating the availability of these drugs to the populations of the 156 countries under the WHO umbrella.

Original Statement

Dr Ken Gillman is the Director of PsychoTropical Research (PTR), and founder and convener of the International MAOI Expert group (non-profit organisations).  Members of this group have collectively initiated this project.  It has the support of many eminent people in this field, both from the research community and the academic and clinical medical community, including 30 professors from leading medical schools and universities (see here for details of participants).

We are seeking financial support for a major project, the objective of which is to produce internationally recognised guidelines for the use of MAOI antidepressant drugs, and then, even more consequentially, to influence the WHO to place MAOI drugs onto the influential and important Essential medicines list*

This is the single most important step that can be taken to guarantee the more widespread use and availability of these vital drugs.  The essential medicines list does not currently contain any MAOIs — this list has a strong influence on national bodies responsible for drug approval and availability in countries all over the world.

In Europe, and elsewhere, there are countries where MAOIs are not available, and where, even for those able to afford them privately, it is difficult, or against regulations, to import them — thus condemning people to chronic illness, suffering, and the ever-present spectre of suicide.  This renders them unable to escape from intractable illnesses — which have failed to respond to all other available measures, including all the most recent techniques and drugs.

Many will know that I have been working hard, in the 15 years since my retirement from clinical practice, to improve knowledge and education about these drugs, and I am recognised as a leading voice and world authority in this field.

Earlier attempts to get one or other of the major academic institutions in the western world interested in backing this endeavour have not born fruit.

Therefore, we have concluded that if this project is to be accomplished within a reasonable timeframe, an independently funded effort, organised through PsychoTropical Research, is the best way forward — and time may be running short.  In addition, our small, focussed, and single-goal-directed team, has a major advantage in a project such as this, compared to more cumbersome institutions and committees.

Time for action

An independent researcher (Vincent Van den Eynde) has been appointed to coordinate the project.  He is capable, willing, and fully competent to take on this complex project — at my most optimistic, I never expected to find anyone so well suited to the role.  However, it is not possible to engage and retain anyone to take on such a considerable task without remuneration, and there will be other costs.

I have currently sufficient donation funds in PsychoTropical to sustain this for a short time, circa 3 months @ ~3,000 Euros/month — the MAOI expert group has no funds, being an entirely voluntary group.  I have determined to implement this plan as soon as is practical.

A 2–3-year project

It will be a 2–3-year project (estimated cost 30,000 Euros/year, and will entail much work, background research, coordination, and diplomacy — engaging with such a large bureaucracy as the WHO is not a trivial undertaking — we already have had helpful information and advice from the Australian academic who was, until recently, the chair of the relevant committee in the WHO that makes these decisions.  Therefore, we have some knowledge of the road ahead, and a realistic prospect of success.

Therefore, we are seeking commitments for regular donations for the duration of this project to meet these costs.

Foundational work has already been laid down through the efforts of the MAOI group members, cf. our position statement ‘Revitalizing monoamine oxidase inhibitors: A call for action.’  Thus, the topic continues to attract greater attention and prominence, both in the medical literature and via the key platforms on the Internet.

Achieving this goal must be a team project, especially as my diminishing capacity to sustain the work of both the MAOI group and PsychoTropical, without assistance, is no longer a speck on the horizon.  This project will, without doubt, be a key achievement in promoting the worldwide availability of these drugs to patients in great need, who cannot currently avail themselves of this important treatment.  It would rank as one of the most critical changes in thinking and psycho-pharmacology practice in the last 50 years.  I regard my role in this project’s successful completion as a milestone; it would allow me to step back from my retirement efforts with a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Please consider supporting this unique and important initiative.

[link to donation procedure details]

Dr Ken Gillman MD
Director PsychoTropical Research (PTR), MAOI Expert group convener.
Queensland, Australia.

Consider Donating to PsychoTropical

PsychoTropical is funded solely through generous donations, which has enabled extensive development and improvement of all associated activities. Many people who follow the advice on the website will save enormously on doctors, treatment costs, hospitalization, etc. which in some cases will amount to many thousands of dollars, even tens of thousands — never mind all the reduction in suffering and the resultant destruction of family, work, social, and leisure capability. A donation of $100, or $500, is little compared to those savings. Some less-advantaged people feel that the little they can give is so small it won’t make a difference – but five dollars monthly helps: so, do not think that a little donation is not useful.

– Dr Ken Gillman

Dr Ken Gillman