Australian Judge blames Paxil & Effexor: mom free of murder attempt / UK MP
Wed, 26 May 2004
Top FDA officials are foot dragging–can’t make up their minds whether protecting children’s lives is a priority. These officials are loath to curtail the dispensing of antidepressants–inasmuch as it would hurt drug manufacturers. How much evidence is needed before measures are taken to control irresponsible prescribing of drugs that have triggered violent manic episodes? How many children must die by their own hand or by drug induced murderous rage in a parent?
The courts, public opinion, and legislators are taking note of the scientific evidence that FDA regulators seem uncomfortable accepting. The courts are beginning to recognize the similarity of circumstances between the scientific evidence and current cases. Judges are paying attention to evidence that these drugs pose severe hazards for some who take them-requiring restrictions on their use.
1. An Australian judge ruled that Paxil and Zoloft were to blame in a case involving a mother who attempted to kill herself and her two children while under the influence of the drugs.
The US medical establishment and government regulators regularly pay lip service to evidence-based medicine” but when the evidence contradicts current practice–which is largely dictated by drug marketing claims–these professionals feign uncertainty.
Australian Chief Justice, David Malcolm, said “authorities should provide warnings on the drugs and doctors should monitor patients and make them aware of possible side effects. Patients should also question any increase in the drugs if their condition was not improving.”
2. Antidepressants are also taking a beating in the court of public opinion as the drugs are shown to be inked to suicides. The Newcastle Journal (UK) reports: “Doting dad Peter Hearn was prescribed the anti-depressant drug Prozac when he went to his GP suffering from sleepless nights – within eight days he took his own life.”
His wife said: “Peter was too full of life and looking forward to the future too much to have deliberately ended his own life. He was a good person with a wonderful personality, who was strong physically and in mental attitude. We were never told suicidal tendencies were an initial side effect of the Fluoxetine and people should be aware of this.”
Eli Lilly spokesperson repeated the company’s mantra: “Our view is that there is no credible scientific evidence that establishes a link between Prozac and suicidal behaviour.”
Mrs Shirley Trinkett, a critic of the overuse of these drugs for the past 10 years, criticized GPs for over-prescribing the medication: “The use of antidepressants is spiraling out of control in the region and across the country. A lot of people are being prescribed the medication for minor symptoms of depression, who would be better off with short-term sedation drugs or counseling. Unfortunately it is a lot easier for doctors to pull out a prescription pad and write Prozac on it than it is to offer people the help they may need.” See: Unhappy legacy of Prozac
3. In the US, on May 24, 2004, Congressman Greenwood of the Commerce and Energy committee told Insight online: “What we know,” says Greenwood, “is that there have been studies in Europe that have indicated there may be a correlation between the use of antidepressants among children and suicidal ideation, attempted suicide and, tragically, suicide. And it seems to be the case that not all of the studies that drug manufacturers have done have found their way to the FDA…. We want to make sure that these drugs are safe. Once we answer the question as to whether there is a problem, we can decide what action needs to be taken.”
Greenwood explains: “We’ve requested information from seven of the pharmaceutical companies and from the FDA. Based on what we get back we’ll then decide whether to hold hearings. Whether we have to look at diagnosing, my impulsive answer is that certainly the diagnosis and the drugs should be looked at in total. But I’ll have to sit down with my staff and talk about this.”
Greenwood also indicated that the committee would also look into the connections between school shooters and prescription drugs: “Did the shootings happen because of mental disorders or because of the drugs?”
4. On May 25, 2004, Welsh Member of Parliament, Paul Flynn, delivered a damning indictment of what he called the “medicalisation” of life, and the drug industry – accusing it of promoting “fake” diseases and turning Britain into a nation of pill dependant victims.
He noted that: in 1994 there were 2.6 million people on anti-depressants in Britain but by 2003 that figure had risen to 14 million. “However, despite the rise in anti-depressants there had not been a similar reduction in the numbers of suicides or self-harming incidents.”
See also: Dead Wrong, by Nathaniel S. Lehrman, MD. August 15, 2002. A psychiatrist’s historic perspective
See also: Doctors too quick to hand out prescriptions.
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Mum free after murder bid
Antidepressant drugs prescribed to a mother contributed substantially to her two attempts to kill herself and her two young children by gassing them in the family car, Chief Justice David Malcolm has ruled.
The 32-year-old woman, whose name is suppressed, walked free from the Supreme Court yesterday with a four-year jail term suspended for two years after pleading guilty to four counts of attempting to murder her daughters, then aged nine and two. She made separate murder-suicide attempts near Waroona and Pinjarra on June 17 last year.
Justice Malcolm found the medication affected her mental state and “substantially contributed” to the offences.
“The drug . . . impaired her capacity for rational thought to such a degree that her responsibility for her actions was substantially diminished and her capacity for rational thought and action was gravely impaired,” he said.
Justice Malcolm described the woman as a loving mother who cared for her children and said her prospects of recovery were reasonably good due to the support of family and friends.
The Department of Community Development would determine whether and when she could resume care of her children, who had suffered considerable trauma.
The woman has already had supervised access visits to her children, who live with her father.
She was also sentenced to intensive supervision orders and 80 hours community work. The woman, who lives near Bunbury, wept in the dock and hugged her father in the public gallery after being sentenced. The court was told she had a history of depression and was prescribed high doses of Aropax (paroxetine), a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor, and Efexor (venlafaxine), a serotonin noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitor, in the months before the offences.
The doses were increased after the first of her four suicide attempts in May 2002.
The drugs are also marketed under the names Prozac and Zoloft. Renowned British critic of antidepressants David Healy, who examined the woman’s case, concluded that it showed diminished responsibility resulting from the drugs.
Outside court, the woman’s father said he saw a marked improvement in his daughter’s health after she stopped taking the drugs.
He said authorities should provide warnings on the drugs and doctors should monitor patients and make them aware of possible side effects. Patients should also question any increase in the drugs if their condition was not improving.
He said he hoped she would be reunited with her children.
C 2004 West Australian Newspapers Limited All Rights Reserved.
MP brands pill-making firms ‘disease mongers’
May 26 2004
Kirsty Buchanan, The Western Mail
A WELSH MP yesterday delivered a damning indictment of the drug industry – accusing it of promoting “fake” diseases and turning Britain into a nation of pill dependant victims.
Newport West MP Paul Flynn said “disease mongers” marketed minor ailments as serious problems to push pills as the latest “wonder drug” while Britons were turning the normal problems of life into crippling health issues.
“We have been conditioned to believe there is a pill for everything,” he said.
“What we are doing is pushing people into a dependency culture. The disease mongers gnaw away at our self confidence by playing down our capacity for self coping.”
The Labour MP used a Westminster Hall debate yesterday to rail against what he called the “medicalisation” of life.
He said in the past people had simply coped with the normal problems of life, such as bereavement, obesity, baldness or loneliness, but modern society wanted to find its salvation in a pill. He told MPs that in 1994 there were 2.6 million people on anti-depressants in Britain but by 2003 that figure had risen to 14 million.
However, Mr Flynn said despite the rise in anti-depressants there had not been a similar reduction in the numbers of suicides or self-harming incidents.
He praised a Cardiff doctor handing out self-help books rather than prescriptions and urged Britons to use exercise and talking to tackle life’s normal problems rather than potentially addictive or dangerous drugs.
“Many lives have been destroyed to feed the profits of pharmaceutical companies and many people have been drawn into lives of dependency,” Mr Flynn said.
He also detailed the leaked marketing strategy of one drug company, GlaxoSmithKline, to transform Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the eyes of the public into a major health problem.
“What was not a disabling condition was given a make- over and it was re-marketed as a serious modern scourge,” he said.
Mr Flynn called for greater transparency of patients’ groups – which help lobby politicians for new treatments for sufferers of a range of different ailments.
He said while the mental health charity Mind accepted no donations from pharmaceutical companies, Depression Alliance was 80% funded by them. He said it was important to know whether patient groups were fully independent or “stooges for pharmaceutical companies”.
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