4/14/2000 – FDA Doc Claims Fen-Phen Cover-Up

More “hanky-panky” in the pharmaceutical industry. Did you see
this article posted this week on the CBS news site? There is a
link on our site to the class-action lawsuit suit if you or someone
you know has been effected by fen-phen. Mark

http://cbsnews.cbs.com/now/story/0,1597,181616-412,00.shtml

FDA Doc Claims Fen-Phen Cover-Up

* Says Drug Maker Altered His Findings
* Diet Drug Linked To Heart, Lung Maladies
* Company Agreed To $4.8 Billion Settlement Last Year

WASHINGTON
CBS
Fen-phen

(CBS) The drug company that manufactured “fen-phen,” a diet
medication linked to heart ailments, covered up problems with
the drug that emerged during Food and Drug Administration
testing, a former FDA scientist tells CBS News.

Fen-phen was removed from the market in 1997. Thousands of
people who took the drug have sued American Home Products
of Madison, N.J., for health problems they claim the drug caused.

In an Eye on America investigation, CBS News Correspondent
Sharyl Attkisson reports the FDA’s key reviewer of fen-phen, Dr.
Leo Lutwak, claims the company knew about the problems long
before the drug was pulled.

“I felt from the very beginning the drug companies were covering
up. I felt from the very beginning that these drugs were
dangerous,” said Lutwak.

He claims American Home Products twisted the meaning of his
research to make it seem as if there was no way to predict
fen-phen’s hazards.

“What I had actually written was, that in view of the covering up of
information by the drug company, the FDA had no way of
predicting some of these side effects,” he said.

One of those who sued American Home Products was Patricia
Buol, who developed severe heart problems after taking
fen-phen. She’s now in line for a life saving heart-lung transplant.

The company settled with Buol this week.

“Being part of my kids’ lives and doing their everyday activities is
a struggle,” said Buol. “But I just take one day at a time and do
the best I can.”

Dr. Lutwak’s testimony is crucial to fen-phen cases like Buol’s.
But the FDA won’t let him testify. Now Lutwak says he’s planning
to retire, making him free to testify at will.

“I followed the rules and regulations, I didn’t go public. I tried to
work within the system, it didn’t work. People died as a result of a
dangerous deadly drug being released,” he said.

Defendant American Home Products would not be interviewed,
but has said in the past it “acted responsibly and lawfully.”

FDA Commissioner Jane Henney refused a CBS News request
to answer the allegations.

The agency’s last commissioner, Dr. David Kessler, criticized the
agency’s current approach to drug regulation.

“I have some concerns that we may be losing sight of what the
FDA is all about,” said Kessler. “The question is, who’s the
agency’s customers? Who’s the agency partner?”

Consumer advocates say the FDA is constantly keeping
damaging information from the public.

“They view the drug industry in many ways as their customers, at
least the bosses do, as opposed to viewing the public as the
customers they need to protect from some of the excesses of the
drug industry,” said Sidney Wolfe of Public Citizen.

Concerns about the FDA also emerged during the controversy
over the diabetes drug Rezulin.

Kessler said the agency needs to realize the American
consumer is its customer.

American Home Products also makes such drugs as
Caordarone, Sectral, Protonix, Synvisc and Pnu-Imune.

Fen-phen is actually a combination of two drugs, fenfluramine
and phentermine, which work by suppressing the appetite of a
person who is trying to lose weight.

It was estimated that in 1996, 18 million Americans took the
drugs.

FDA: Under The Micriscope
Click here to read CBS News Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s
reports on the FDA and the diabetes drug RezulinBut a report in
the August 1997 New England Journal of Medicine found that
fenfluramine can in some cases lead to pulmonary
hypertension, a rare, almost always fatal, disease. It was also
linked to heart valve malfunction.

In September, 1997, the FDA, saying it was “acting on new
evidence about significant side-effects,” asked the
manufacturers to voluntarily withdraw both medications,
marketed under the names Pondimin (fen-phen), and Redux, a
similar medication.

Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, a subsidiary of American Home
Products, complied.

However, the company continued to deny the drugs caused the
alleged problems. In November, 1998, Wyeth-Ayerst published a
study that compared heart function in people who had taken
fen-phen and a group who hadn’t, and concluded there was “no
significant differences in cardiovascular clinical outcomes.”

But that didn’t stop the fen-phen fallout.

A February, 1999 60 Minutes II investigation with U.S. News &
World Report revealed that Wyeth-Ayerst knew more than it told
about the pulmonary hypertension risks, a charge the company
denied.

In September 1999, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI
was investigating the FDA’s approval of Redux.

A month later, American Home Products agreed to pay up to
$4.83 billion to settle the more than 11,000 fen-phen lawsuits,
one of the biggest product liability settlements ever.

As part of the settlement agreement, the company admitted no
wrongdoing.

Copyright 2000, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved.

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4/14/2000 – Safety Study Skimping?

This article appeared yesterday on the ABC News site. We know
that drugs are given only cursory tests before being introduced
into the marketplace. Pharmaceuticals counter that they do
extensive follow-up testing (post-marketing) to assure that the
drugs are in fact safe. Now, it appears that this is something to
which they only give lip service. Mark

http://abcnews.go.com/onair/WorldNewsTonight/wnt_000413_fd
a_feature.html

Report Says Drug Companies Fail to Complete Required Tests
When the Food and Drug Administration approves a drug it may
still have lingering questions about its safety or effectiveness
which it expects will be answered by the drug company.
(ABCNEWS.com)

By John McKenzie

N E W Y O R K, April 13 Evidence gathered by an
independent advocacy group suggests that many drug
companies in the United States are not keeping all of their
promises.

When a drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration,
pharmaceutical firms are required to fulfill “post-marketing”
commitments to continue studying the safety and effectiveness
of the new product. Such research is necessary because the
FDA often approves drugs that have been tested on only a few
thousand people and lingering questions may remain about
how the drugs interact with other medicines or foods and what
kinds of side effects they may create in various patients.

The new study indicates, however, that many companies
routinely fail to follow through with these studies after the new
drugs reach the market. And the FDA is virtually powerless to do
anything about their lack of compliance.

The group that issued the report, Public Citizen, presented the
evidence to the FDA today, based on information obtained
through the Freedom of Information Act.

“Reliance on post-marketing studies as a way of safely
approving drugs is a dumb idea,” says Dr. Sidney Wolfe of Public
Citizen. “And a very dangerous idea because the studies mainly
are not getting done.”

Non-Compliance, No Consequences

According to Wolfe and the other authors of the report, FDA files
reveal that five drugs that were approved in the past decade and
later withdrawn from the market for safety reasons never had all
of their required follow-up studies completed.

And as of last December, only 11 out of the 88 new drugs that
were approved with post-marketing commitments between 1990
and 1994, had been subjected to the necessary studies or
properly filed the results. That€ ‘²s a compliance rate of just 13
percent.

“Five to ten years is certainly more than enough for the
overwhelming majority of these studies to be completed,” says
Dr. Brian Strom of the University of Pennsylvania. “The longer it
takes to answer these questions the longer patients are
exposed to potentially unnecessary risks.”

FDA Lacks Power

Representatives for the drug industry, however, say such studies
require greater patience.

“Specific studies that have to be designed, executed’. and if
they’re done in a comprehensive way they take a long time
to
do,” says Wayne Pines, a pharmaceutical industry spokesman.

But while the FDA can tell the drug companies to conduct
additional post-marketing studies, the fact is that once a drug is
on the market there’s little it can do to enforce the order.

Consumer advocates say Congress needs to give the FDA the
authority to impose fines on drug companies that break their
promises.

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1/9/2000 – The Legal Drugging Of America

The Legal Drugging Of America

Here is a recent article from Arianna Huffington. – Mark M.
———-

The Legal Drugging Of America: A Status Report
Filed December 23, 1999
by Arianna Huffington

Two reports out this month highlight the continuing trend toward the
legal drugging of America.

The Surgeon General’s report on the state of the nation’s mental health
found that 22 percent of the population has a diagnosable mental
disorder.” At the same time, a study by the National Institute of
Mental Health concluded that we are under-medicating our children and
that for those diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder,
drugs — specifically Ritalin — are more effective than therapy.

The big drugmakers will no doubt use these studies as additional
weapons in their ongoing war to make mood-altering drugs the solution
to all life’s problems. Our magazines are already stuffed with ads
portraying pharmaceutical giants as noble enterprises, engaged in
nothing but the pursuit of pure science and the public good. And our
television screens are filled with commercials for drugs to cure
shyness and so-called “social phobias.”

The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved Effexor XR, a
drug for “generalized anxiety disorder” — the garden-variety
free-floating anxiety that has plagued humanity since the expulsion
from Eden. Mark Twain summed it up this way: “I am an old man, and
have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”

These days, the assumption seems to be that drugs can take care of
everything unpleasant in the human condition. “At Pfizer,” one ad
boasts, “we look to the future with the knowledge that the only thing
incurable is our passion.” What the ad doesn’t mention is that drug
company profits (Pfizer’s last year were $3.35 billion) are often spent
not on finding cures for serious diseases but for “lifestyle”
maladies — baldness, toenail fungus, and of course any interruption to
a perpetually sunny mood. Not one major drug company in the United
States has an in-house research program on malaria, for example, but
sales of pharmaceutical drugs for pets are approaching $1 billion
annually.

The major flaw of the Surgeon General’s report is the lumping together
of dramatically disparate conditions. According to Surgeon General
David Satcher himself, “tragic and devastating disorders such a
schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease,
the mental and behavioral disorders suffered by children, and a range
of other mental disorders affect nearly one in five Americans in any
year.” This is a classic example of pseudo-scientific sleight of hand:
linking schizophrenia to childhood behavioral problems as though they
are in any meaningful sense on the same continuum.
It is this mind-set that has led to the Ritalin epidemic — with the
number of kids taking the powerful drug skyrocketing from 1 million in
1990 to 4 million today. And now along comes a study that says the
answer to those many instances where Ritalin has proved ineffective is
to simply up the dosage. As Dr. Peter Jensen from the National
Institute of Mental Health put it, “You find the dose that achieves
the absolute possible total benefit for this child … That’s the dose
you want, not the lowest possible dose that you can get by on.” It’s
ingenius, if Ritalin isn’t working, try more Ritalin. As they used to
say in the ’60s, “Why do you think they call it dope?”

It’s doubly tragic that these reports have arrived at a time when we’re
facing a crisis in managed health care. Because a diagnosis of a mental
disorder will almost always prompt managed care companies to take the
cheap way out — drugs rather than therapy, no matter how potentially
dangerous the long-term side effects, especially on children’s growing
brains.

Making this growing emphasis on drugs especially troubling is the
conclusion by federal investigators that the FDA has “no quality
control system” to track adverse drug reactions. Currently, doctors
and hospitals are not even legally required to report patients’ drug
side effects to the FDA. As a result, in one year, from the beginning
of June 1997 to the end of May 1998, the agency got only 13,825 such
reports even though in hospitals alone approximately 180,000 patients
die every year from drug reactions.

Even if the FDA moves from a voluntary to a mandatory reporting system,
the agency has only 80 employees to monitor more than 3,000
prescription drugs. Over the past year and a half, the agency has
banned only five drugs that it previously had approved but now deems
dangerous. But every year 2 million Americans are hospitalized due to
drug side effects.

“Most errors are not caused by stupidity, incompetence or neglect, but
by system failures that allow them to occur,” said David Lawrence,
head of Kaiser Permanente, suggesting that the safety tests done by
drug companies are not enough, and that the companies fail to educate
physicians and hospital workers on the proper administration of their
drugs.

As drugs, and the conditions treatable by drugs multiply, can we
continue to tolerate such slipshod oversight of a powerful industry
that so affects our lives — and our deaths? Or continue to rely on
reports tainted by the drug industry’s assumption that millions of
Americans are suffering from mental disorders whose cure is just a pill
pop away? Oh, the infinite possibilities of an America where everyone
has finally admitted to a mental disorder, and everyone is blissed-out
on appropriately high doses of the newest wonder drugs.

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12/02/1999 – Boys Will Be Boys

We shout a public “WELL DONE AND THANK YOU!!!!” to George Will and the
Washington Post for their encouraging article on the Colorado School
Board Resolution. Ann Blake-Tracy who was one of three invited to present
documentation to the school board on the damage caused by these drugs
will be doing a radio show this Saturday on this issue. She will be
joined by Patti Johnson, the Colorado School Board member who
introduced the resolution. The interview will be with Phyllis Schlafly,
national head of the Eagle Forum (www.eagleforum.org) at 11:30 AM
Central Time. For a station near you that may carry the show check
their web site or the drugawareness.org site or members.aol.com/atracyp
hd.

Boys Will Be Boys
Or you can just drug them.
By George F. Will
Thursday, December 2, 1999; Page A39

A reaction is underway against drugging children because they are
behaving like children, especially boy children. Colorado’s elected
school board recently voted to discourage what looks like drug abuse in
the service of an ideological agenda. The board urged teachers and
other school personnel to be more restrained about recommending drugs
such as Ritalin for behavior modification of children, and to rely more
on discipline and instruction.

One reason for the vote is that some school violence has been committed
by students taking psychotropic drugs. But even absent a causal
connection between the drugs and violence, there are sound reasons to
recoil from the promiscuous drugging of children.

Consider the supposed epidemic of attention deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) that by 1996 had U.S. youngsters consuming 90percent of
the world’s Ritalin. Boys, no parent of one will be surprised to learn,
are much more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD. In1996, 10
percent to 12 percent of all American schoolboys were taking the
addictive Ritalin. (After attending classes on the dangers of drugs?)

One theory holds that ADHD is epidemic because of the modern
acceleration of life–the environmental blitzkrieg of MTV, video games,
e-mail, cell phones, etc. But the magazine Lingua Franca reports that
Ken Jacobson, a doctoral candidate in anthropology at the University of
Massachusetts, conducted a cross-cultural study of ADHD that included
observation of two groups of English school children, one diagnosed
with ADHD, the other not. He observed them with reference to 35
behaviors (e.g., “giggling,” “squirming,” “blurting out”) and found no
significant differences between the groups.

Children, he says, tend to talk, fidget and fool around–“all the
classical ADHD-type behaviors. If you’re predisposed to label any child
as ADHD, the distracted troublemaker or the model student, you’ll find
a way to observe these behaviors.” So what might explain such a
predisposition? Paul R. McHugh, professor of psychiatry at Johns
Hopkins, writing in Commentary, argues that ADHD, “social phobia”
(usual symptom: fear of public speaking) and other disorders certified
by the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders” are proliferating rapidly. This is because
of a growing tendency to regard as mental problems many characteristics
that are really aspects of individuality.

So pharmacology is employed to relieve burdensome aspects of
temperament. “Psychiatric conditions,” says McHugh, “are routinely
differentiated by appearances alone,” even when it is “difficult to
distinguish symptoms of illness from normal variations in human life,”
or from the normal responses of sensitive people to life’s challenges.
But if a condition can be described, it can be named; once named, a
distinct disorder can be linked to a particular treatment. McHugh says
some experts who certify new disorders “receive extravagant annual
retainers from pharmaceutical companies that profit from the promotion
of disorders treatable by the companies’ medications.”

The idea that most individuals deficient inattentiveness or confidence
are sick encourages what McHugh calls pharmacological “mental
cosmetics.” This “should be offensive to anyone who values the richness
of human psychological diversity. Both medically and morally,
encumbering this naturally occurring diversity with the terminology of
disease is a first step toward efforts, however camouflaged, to control
it.” Clearly some children need Ritalin. However, Ken Livingston, of
Vassar’s department of psychology, writing in the Public Interest, says
Ritalin is sometimes used as a diagnostic tool–if it improves a
child’s attention, ADHD is assumed.

But Ritalin, like other stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine,
improves almost everyone’s attention. And Ritalin is a ready resource
for teachers who blur the distinction between education and therapy.
One alternative to Ritalin might be school choice–parents finding
schools suited to their children’s temperaments. But, says Livingston,
when it is difficult to change the institutional environment, “we don’t
think twice about changing the brain of the person who has to live in
it.” This is an age that tries to medicalize every difficulty or
defect. Gwen Broude, also of Vassar, believes that the rambunctiousness
of boys is treated as a mental disorder by people eager to interpret
sex differences as personal deficiencies.

Danielle Crittenden of the Independent Women’s Forum sees the “anti-boy
lobby” behind handwringing about the supposed dangers of reading the
Harry Potter novels, which feature wizardry, witchcraft and other
really neat stuff. The androgyny agenda of progressive thinkers has
reduced children’s literature to bland gruel because, Crittenden says,
there is “zero tolerance for male adventurousness.” The Potter books
recall those traditional boys’ books that satisfied boys’ zeal for
strife and Adventure. Today, Crittenden says, that zeal causes
therapists–they are everywhere–to reach for Ritalin. Harry is brave,
good and constantly battling evil. He should point his broomstick
toward Colorado, where perhaps boys can be boys.

Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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12/1/1999 – Few Patients Satisfied With Antidepressants

Here’s some interesting new information about the efficacy of SSRI
medication as reported by people who really know something about
it–the patients. Mark

Study: Few Patients Satisfied With Antidepressants

12.43 p.m. ET (1743 GMT) November 30, 1999

NEW YORK — Just a third of patients on long-term antidepressant drug
therapy report being very satisfied with their treatment, according to
results of a new survey.

http://www.foxnews.com:80/js_index.sml?content=/health/113099/antidepress.sml

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11/15/1999 – Rocky Mountain News Editorial

Denver’s Rocky Mountain News has an editorial about the Resolution the
State Board of Education passed a couple of days ago. Now there are
TWO places to vote. In one you vote if you agree with the editorial.
Vote NO.

This editorial states Board has entered the medical arena where they
have no business being when in fact the resolutions directs schools to
refrain from giving medical advice.

http://cfapps.insidedenver.com/opinion/

Below that it asks “Was the state board right to attack the use of
Ritalin?” While this isn’t exactly what the state board did, you want
to vote yes. Vote now, forward this and get others to do so.

Here is this link

http://cfapps.insidedenver.com/opinion/votingbooth.cfm?Question=89

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11/15/1999 – Ann Blake-Tracy Appearances

Here are some upcoming broadcast appearances for Ann Blake-Tracy:

Dr. Ann Tracy will be appearing on the Leeza Gibbons Show tomorrow,
Tuesday, November 16th. To find show times and a station near you,
please go to information is available at http:/members.aol.com/atracyph
d/appear.htm.

Or you can go directly to Leeza’s homepage at http://www.leezashow.com/ban_show.htm

In addition, Ann Blake-Tracy has a radio show scheduled for next Saturday the
20th at 10-11 AM CST on KIXL 970 AM out of Austin Texas.

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11/1/1999 – Colorado School Board Initiative

In October, Dr. Ann Tracy, Executive Director of the International
Coalition for Drug Awareness, and two other experts spoke before the
Colorado State Board of Education. They urged the adoption of the
Resolution on Academic Standards and Restrictions on Non-Academic
Solutions which was introduced by Patti Johnson, one of the Board’s
members.

The resolution would give Colorado parents and teachers a clear message
that education must be concerned with academic issues and NOT the
management of behavioral issues with psychiatric prescription drugs.
Recently, Eric Harris, who was taking Luvox, killed over a dozen
students at Columbine High School.

The State Board should be commended for taking the lead in this issue.
They should be applauded for trying to steer the schools of Colorado in
the direction of academia, and away from mind-altering drugs. Please
send a brief, short and very supportive note to them.

The e-mail address is State.Board@…

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10/28/1999 – STUDY QUESTIONS TREATMENT OF VERY YOUNG WITH PSYCHOTROPIC MEDS

YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN A NEW STUDY WHICH APPEARS IN THIS MONTH’S
JAMA, QUESTIONING THE TREATMENT OF VERY YOUNG CHILDREN (3 AND UNDER)
WITH PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS. HERE’S A SUMMARY AND A LINK.

Diagnosis of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Use of
Psychotropic Medication in Very Young Children

Marsha D. Rappley, MD; Patricia B. Mullan, PhD; Francisco J. Alvarez;
Ihouma U. Eneli, MD; Jenny Wang, PhD; Joseph C. Gardiner, PhD

Conclusions

Children aged 3 years or younger had ADHD diagnosed and received
markedly variable psychotropic medication regimens. Little information
is available to guide these practices. The presence of comorbid
conditions and injuries attests to these children’s vulnerability.
Resources must be identified that will enable physicians to better
respond to the compelling needs of these children and their families.

Editor’s Note: The authors point out a pressing need to define better
diagnostic criteria and effective treatment in very young children.
There seems to be a real deficit in attention to this
problem.—Catherine D. DeAngelis, MD

http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/issues/v153n10/full/poa8497.html

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10/24/1999 – The Pain in Littleton Continues

A Message from Ann Blake-Tracy…

As if the people of Littleton have not suffered enough via the
Luvox-induced nightmare of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, now they must
go through their own SSRI-induced nightmares!!!! While in Littleton
last month I was told by one of the teachers at Columbine that close to
half of their students are now on something to cope with the
Luvox-induced tragedy carried out by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
Oct. 21 we heard that a friend of the boys was arrested for making
threats about finishing the job for Eric and Dylan. Now we hear that
one of the mothers of a wounded student has committed one of the most
impulsive suicides I have heard of to date. The striking impulsive
compulsion to die coupled with the personality changes and loss of the
ability to cope, makes it clear to me that this is without doubt
another SSRI-induced tragedy!

How many more?

How many more?

How many more must die before the bloodshed ends? If you have been
afraid to speak out on this issue, PLEASE do not allow your silence to
contribute to these tragedies any longer!!! We must all warn all we
know that this is a clear and very present danger that MUST
end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org

——————————————————————–
Mom of Columbine Victim Kills Self

By COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press Writer

DENVER (AP) — The mother of a student wounded in the Columbine High
School massacre walked into a suburban pawn shop Friday, asked to see a
handgun, loaded it and killed herself with a shot to the head.

Carla June Hochhalter’s suicide occurred about six months after her
17-year-old daughter, Anne Marie, was critically wounded in the April
20 tragedy and left partially paralyzed.

It was not immediately known what other factors might have contributed
to Ms. Hochhalter’s suicide.

Ms. Hochhalter, 48, entered the Alpha Pawn Shop in Englewood Friday
morning and asked to see a handgun.

When a clerk turned around to fill out paperwork, Ms. Hochhalter loaded
the weapon with bullets that she brought, then fired one round that hit
the wall and a second round into her head, Englewood police spokeswoman
Leticia Castillo said.

The suicide was the latest shock for students and families in the
Columbine area. Jefferson County School District officials planned to
have grief counselors available this weekend to help deal with any
trauma.

A student was arrested this week for allegedly threatening “to finish
the job” begun by two student gunmen at Columbine.

In addition, CBS-TV was criticized by some in the community for
broadcasting a snippet of the security camera videotape that was taken
in the school cafeteria as the massacre unfolded.

Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, scattered gunfire and bombs at
the school near Englewood, killing 12 students and a teacher and
wounding about 26 others. Then they committed suicide.

Miss Hochhalter suffered injuries to her spinal cord, back and chest
when the gunmen fired at her in the parking lot. She moved her legs
for the first time last week.

Now a senior, she is taking a physics class at Columbine while a tutor
teaches the rest of her courses at home.

AP-NY-10-22-99 1947EDT
___________________________

Mom of CHS victim kills herself

By David Olinger
Denver Post Staff Writer

Oct. 22, 5:15 p.m. – Carla Hochhalter, the mother of a girl paralyzed
by the Columbine High shootings, walked into an Englewood pawn shop
Friday, asked to look at a revolver, loaded it and fatally shot
herself.

She died at Swedish Medical Center, minutes after paramedics carried
her into its emergency room.

Hochhalter, 48, killed herself at a time when her family seemed to be
battling back from a tragedy that had left her daughter Anne Marie
partially paralyzed by a bullet lodged in her back.

Anne Marie, a 17-year-old Columbine High senior, told friends a week
ago that she had managed to move her legs for the first time since
April 20. She and her parents had moved into a home renovated by
volunteers to accommodate her wheelchair. Dozens of students and
teachers at Leawood Elementary, where she once went to school, took
part in a Courage Walk last week to benefit the Hochhalters. Anne
Marie had thanked them all, adding bravely, “I think we’ll all
recover.”

Seven days later her mother walked into the Alpha Pawn Shop on South
Broadway and calmly asked to look at some handguns. A clerk showed her
three. She said she wanted to buy one, a .38 special revolver, and
asked to examine it.

While the clerk turned his attention to the paperwork associated with a
gun purchase, Carla Hochhalter surreptitiously loaded the revolver
with ammunition she had brought into the shop. She fired one bullet
into a store wall. She fired the next into her right temple.

At least half a dozen pawn shop employees and customers witnessed the
shooting.

“I’m stunned,” said Richard Castaldo, another of the students partially
paralyzed by the Columbine High gunmen. “My heart goes out to that
family. To go through what they this summer, and then this.”
Castaldo’s mother, Connie Michalik, said Carla Hochhalter suffered
terribly during the six months she watched her daughter fighting to
survive, then coping with life in a wheelchair.

“When this whole thing started, she was a different person. I saw her
slide downhill,” Michalik said. “You could see it was too much for
her. At the beginning, she was upset but a normal distraught person,
like we all were. But you’d look in her eyes and see she was … lost.
It didn’t seem like she was there any more. She was sweet and loving
and kind, but it was too much for her.”

Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone, whose department investigated the
Columbine High massacre, has watched deputies call it quits in the last
six months as the enduring stresses of this tragedy took their toll.
He expressed sympathy for the Hochhalters, saying, “I’d ask people to
pray for the family to help them get through this difficult part.”

Copyright 1999 The Denver Post.
____________________________

Columbine victim’s mother kills self in pawn shop

By Karen Abbott
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

Carla Hochhalter, whose 17-year-old daughter was gravely wounded in the
Columbine High School shootings six months ago, took her own life
Friday.

Englewood police said Mrs. Hochhalter, 48, shot herself once in the
head at about 10 a.m. inside a South Broadway pawn shop where she had
just told a clerk she wanted to buy a gun.

“She was such a loving mother,” Connie Michalik, mother of wounded
Columbine student Rich Castaldo, said Friday.

The Hochhalter family, whose daughter, Anne Marie, suffered spinal cord
injuries and has been attending Columbine in a wheelchair this fall,
declined to comment.

Michalik said she and Mrs. Hochhalter spent many hours together at the
hospital in the weeks after their children were shot. Teenage gunmen
Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire at the school, killing 12
students and a teacher and injuring more than 20 other people before
killing themselves.

“She was very sweet and loving and kind,” Michalik said. “This whole
thing just devastated her. This just destroyed her. It destroyed her.

“In my mind, I almost feel like Eric and Dylan killed her too.”

Police spokeswoman Letitia Castillo said the clerk at Alpha Pawn, 4155
S. Broadway in Englewood, handed Mrs. Hochhalter a .38 caliber handgun
at her request. While the clerk was doing the required background
check for the purchase, Castillo said, Mrs. Hochhalter apparently
loaded the gun with bullets she had brought with her.

Castillo said Mrs. Hochhalter fired one bullet into a wall of the store
before turning the gun on herself. No one else was injured.

Arapahoe County Coroner Dr. Michael Dobersen confirmed after an autopsy
Friday that Mrs. Hochhalter died of a gunshot wound to the head. The
death was classified as a suicide, he said.

Mrs. Hochhalter was pronounced dead at about 10:50 a.m. at Swedish
Medical Center, where Anne Marie underwent radical surgery and stayed
for weeks after she was shot twice as she ate lunch outside Columbine.

A Swedish spokeswoman said the hospital staff would not comment Friday.

Michalik said she had been concerned about Mrs. Hochhalter but never
imagined the depth of her depression.

“She was devastated, just like the rest of us,” Michalik said. “When it
first happened, she was just like any other parent.

October 22, 1999

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