Recent cases of mass violence such as the Joseph Wesbecker in Virginia that shot his co-workers, the Virginia Tech murders, the Columbine Shootings, and the shootings at Fort Hood, all point to the fact that anti-depressant and SSRI medication are dangerous to the public. These medications can cause homicidal thinking which results in public violence and also in suicides. The pharmaceutical industry wants to use the returning veterans as a huge potential pharmaceutical drug customer base. All veterans are trained to use weapons and often have weapons easily at hand. With Post Traumatic Stress a major problem in the returning troops, we have a social problem to deal with their mental health needs. With the US government picking up the tab, the pharmaceutical companies are lobbying heavily to increase their expected profits from the sales of drugs for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) sufferers. The huge numbers of returning veterans are a prime target of their sales efforts. Big Pharma pours lots of money into the political campaigns of those who support their agenda. These huge pharmaceutical companies have persons on the President's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health that are pushing to do wholesale marketing of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's) and other mind altering drugs to veterans with PTSD. The constantly expanding prison population is another target for the SSRI drug marketing and especially those prisoners facing re-entry and who will soon have Medicaid/Medicare to pay their pharmaceutical bills. -
When SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft were first introduced in the late 1980's and early 1990's there were reports of increasing violent behavior including suicide and homicide. There were in 2003 reports by British authorities and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about unpublished studies showing an increased risk of suicide in children and teenagers taking Paxil. Prior reports of suicidal and homicidal acts in adults taking SSRIs have been minimized by the pharmaceutical company defenders and mainstream doctors, who claim that suicide is common in depression anyway. ---
The recent violence Nov. 5, 2009 at Fort Hood in Texas in which a military psychiatrist shot and killed 13 people and wounded 30 others gives us good reason to reconsider these psychiatric drug treatments for military personnel and veterans. This incident reminded me of the Northern Illinois University mass shootings where former grad student Stephen Kazmierczak killed 5 students and wounding dozens of others before committing suicide himself. This gunman had been taking the drug Paxil prior to his mass killings. The drug manufacturer had been deliberately withholding information about violent behavior as an adverse effect of the medication. Now the drug Paxil carries a black box warning about homicide and suicide. On Sept 14, 2004, an FDA panel voted 18 to 5 to require manufacturers of all antidepressants to add black box warnings to their product labeling. A month later, the FDA adopted the panel's recommendations. The warning reads in part: "Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in short-term studies in children and adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of [Drug Name] or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior." The warning specifically links antidepressant use to suicidal behavior in four percent of kids on these drugs compared to two percent for kids on placebos. -
No type of antidepressant is helpful in every clinical case or even indicated. These drugs can actually make the situation worse. As a class of drugs SSRIs can create a unique combination of side effects that may severely impair judgment and impulse control in individual patients. Excessive doses of antidepressants can cause brain dysfunctions including disorientation, confusion, and cognitive disturbances. In combat veterans suffering PTSD, impulsive behavior, especially if coupled with impaired cognitive functioning, can be dangerous. Antidepressants can also trigger similar, manic-like symptoms in people whose depression is part of a manic-depressive syndrome, which often gets overlooked when people are given SSRIs. Is public safety enhanced when “patients” are given SSRI’s and are persons on SSRI’s less likely to do gun violence? The pharmaceutical corporations would lead you to believe that a person taking these drugs is less likely to commit suicide and less likely to do gun violence to others. But is that really true? --
The use of secret settlements to withhold information about a known harm of a pharmaceutical drug was very evident in the Fentress case, in which the Kentucky Supreme Court found that lawyers who engaged in an ongoing trial after a secret settlement had already been reached. Judge Potter said their conduct showed "a serious lack of candor with the trial court, and there may have been deception, bad faith conduct, abuse of the judicial process or perhaps even fraud." [Potter v. Eli Lilly & Co., 926 S.W.2d 449, 454 (Ky. 1996).] In summary the Fentress case was about a violent incident in September 1989. Joseph Wesbecker armed himself with an AK-47, walked into the Louisville printing plant where he had worked, and started shooting his former co-workers. After killing eight people, wounded twelve more, and the man finished matters by committing suicide with his gun. Only one month before, Wesbecker had begun taking Prozac. The known problems of violent behavior of patients on this medication had been withheld from the public, governmental regulators and even medical professionals. The lawyers for the shooting victims soon focused on the drug Prozac, manufactured by Eli Lilly, as the cause for Wesbecker's unexpected violence. With the sales of the drug Prozac at $1.7 billion in 1994 there was a lot at stake in this legal case. The Plaintiff's counsel had information about the withholding of research findings regarding another Eli Lilly drug Oraflex. In 1985, Lilly had pled guilty to twenty-five criminal counts of failing to report adverse reactions to Oraflex, including four deaths, to the Food & Drug Administration. But then suddenly during the trial the Oraflex evidence was no longer going to be presented to the court. There was an experienced and astute Judge on the case, John Potter, who suspected something was afoul despite the lawyers' denials and their references to a damages phase, Potter suspected that a deal had been made before closing argument. When the plaintiffs didn't file a notice of appeal, Judge Potter became suspicious and thus called in the lawyers from both sides for consultation. But the lawyers continued to deny that a settlement had been reached. When the appeals court ruled against Judge Potter saying he no longer had jurisdiction, Potter was not satisfied and appealed the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Finally in a Supreme Court hearing, lawyers for both sides finally acknowledged that they had indeed settled all money issues and had agreed to go through only the liability phase of the trial no matter what the result. Judge John Potter took the "high road," acting consistently with the judiciary's responsibility, and protecting the public interest. Thus the role of the judiciary in deciding matters of privacy and sealed records is an important balancing act of sometimes competing interests but which must also take into account the public's right to know especially when there is a compelling public interest. But in most cases the judge opts for sealing the court record and hiding the evidence of wrongdoing by pharmaceutical companies from the public scrutiny. Many cases are settled secretly out of court with a gag order against the plaintiff and an exemption from discovery. Thus even when hundreds of cases of death and injury result, the public is rarely informed. Pharmaceutical companies pay a lot in legal fees to do "risk management" and this often involves counter suits against the victims of the pharmaceutical fraud. In addition, the pharmaceutical companies also use intimidation tactics against witnesses, especially against medical professionals who might act as expert witnesses in court. So when it comes to psychiatric drugs our court system and our regulatory agencies are not protecting the American public.