09/16/1999 – ABC News Transcript 9/15/99–SSRI Effectiveness

Thanks to one of our ICFDA Directors for obtaining the following for us:

The following message is a transcript of last night’s ABC News with
Peter Jennings: a message about the SSRIs. Tonight Peter Jennings will
discuss the “side-effects” of the SSRIs.
———————————————————————–
Peter Jennings ABC News: September 15, 1999

Peter Jennings: “Just when is the drug actually making a difference?
Antidepressants are very popular these days: sales are up 17% from just
last year. Millions and millions of prescriptions now are being
written to
battle depression and mood swings. Tonight, are these drugs really
doing
everything that people think they are? Here’s ABC’s Deborah Amos ”

Deborah Amos: “These depression fighting pills are 60 – 70% effective in
bringing relief according to the medical literature. But Thomas Moore,
who
studies drugs at George Washington University, says the numbers are
misleading”

Thomas Moore: “Millions of Americans believe that the benefits of these
drugs are much greater than they are”

Deborah Amos: “To investigate, Moore analyzed all drug company tests on
five major drugs submitted to the FDA prior to market approval: for
Paxil,
Zoloft, Effexor, Serzone and Prozac. The effectiveness of the drug was
measured against a placebo or sugar pill.”

Thomas Moore: “The effect of antidepressants drugs on depression is
only
very little different than the effect of a completely inactive placebo.”

Deborah Amos: “The highlight of Moore’s finding is the case of Prozac
with
more than $2 billion dollars in U.S. Sales. About 90% of Prozac’s
overall
effectiveness is about the same as patients taking nothing stronger
than a
sugar pill. But the label for antidepressant drugs, the prescribing
detail
for doctors, usually do not spell out the small overall differences
between
the drug and the placebos.”

Thomas Moore: “At the very least the FDA product labeling should
include a
more balanced picture of all the information they have received about
the
drug, – about all the clinical trials.”

Deborah Amos: “”The FDA says it does not put that kind of detail on the
label because it is not helpful in predicting individual outcomes. So
what
does it all mean for patients, when a placebo can have almost the same
benefits as a dug, and particularly, when a drug can have unpleasant
side-effects , —- that feeling – jumpy to <sum><sum><sum><sum><sum>

(a psychologist from the University of Conn., who has teamed up with
Thomas
Moore.)

?: “It suggests that the frontline of treatment for depression should
be
psychological rather than chemical.”

Deborah Ames: “The problem is that good therapy is expensive and not
always available. Pills are cheaper and more easily available. Deborah
Ames, ABC News, New York.”

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09/15/1999 – ABC News Report Thursday Evening

News Alert!

Catch it if you can. Part II of a series on SSRI drugs and their side
effects will be shown on Thursday evening (9/16) on ABC News with Peter
Jennings.

While we’re at it, here are two links to a couple other ABC News
Stories you may have missed.

Bad Reactions to Prescriptions a Leading Cause of Death
Double-Edged Sword of Drugs

Only 15 to 20 percent of doctors mention potential risks to patients
when writing prescriptions.

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/drugreactions980413.html
——
Dangerous Prescriptions
The Risks of Meddling With Doctors’ Drug Orders

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/drugswitching990914.html

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09/07/1999 – Celexa & Alcohol

This is being remailed to make a minor correction. It comes from Dr.
Tracy and our ICFDA Director in Norway–

“I feel that this information coming in from our director in Norway is
so critical that it needs to get to all of you immediately. Hope you
can translate his English =-) Celexa has frightened me more than any
of these drugs since long before it was ever approved. We will be
hearing MUCH more about this extremely dangerous med. But if this is
happening with Celexa, the damage from the others being mixed with
alcohol is also there. How long will it take before anyone begins to
see this, who knows? The tragic twist to this is that these drugs
produce such an overwhelming craving for alcohol.” Ann
_________________________________

In Denmark the magazine: “Ugeskrift for Laeger” (a weekly magazine for
doctors) will publish a study that says that Celexa (citalopram,
Cipramil) can lead to death in combination with alcohol. They have
found that 4 users of celexa have died, and the obduction showed
normal doses of both Celexa and alcohol (0.8 per thousand) for some of
them. They say it’s to early to draw any conclutions, but the Danish
Legemiddelstyrelsen (the Danish FDA), are saying they will contact
other countries, and ask if they have noticed any of this problems. I
will try to pass along an abstract of this “obduction-study” when it
becomes available.

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09/03/1999 – Ann Blake-Tracy on Art Bell this Weekend

Dr. Ann Tracy, the Executive Director of the ICFDA, will again be
interviewed on the Art Bell Program Saturday Night/Sunday Morning
September 4/5, 1999, 11pm to 3am PDT.  If you miss this show, and want
to hear it, and if your computer is equipped for audio and has the Real
Player software installed, you can access the file on the Art Bell site
(artbell.com). For a list of affiliated radio stations, go to the
“Stations” listing on that site (artbell.com/stations.html)

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09/02/1999 – New Ritalin Study

I think you’ll be interested in this study being published today. Mark
——–
Study Says Too Many Kids May Be Taking Prescription Drugs

The drug Ritalin is often prescribed for attention deficit disorder,
but a new study shows that the rate of kids taking the drug far exceeds
the expected number of actual ADD cases.

http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/adhdstudy990901.html

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08/06/1999 – Huge Award in Fen-Phen Case

Huge Award in Fen-Phen Case
Diet Drug Maker Found Liable for Woman’s Heart Problems

By Mike Finger
The Associated Press

C A N T O N, Texas, Aug. 6 — A Texas woman who suffered heart-valve
damage won a $23 million jury award today in the first verdict
involving the diet-drug combination fen-phen.

To view this story, visit– (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/dietdrug990806.html)

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7/22/1999 – A Hotline Volunteer’s Perspective – Report

This appeared in today’s Dallas Morning News Letters to the Editor.
Interesting comment from the perspective of someone who volunteers for
an emergency hotline. Thanks to Rosie Meysenburg for passing this
along to us. Mark
——————————————————————
http://www.dallasnews.com/editorial/letters/0722edlett1.htm

Psychiatric drugs

There has been much talk about what is causing the rash of shootings by
children. No one explanation has nailed the source of the problem. One
explanation often heard is untreated mental problems.

In truth, three of the recent shooters had been treated and given
psychiatric drugs – Springfield’s Kip Kinkel (Springfield, Ore.) with
Prozac, Eric Harris (Littleton, Colo.) with Luvox and Thomas Solomon
(Conyers, Ga.) with Ritalin.

I was a volunteer for a hot line and received many complaints from
people
whose behavior became irrational after taking mood-altering drugs like
Prozac. The wife of comedian Phil Hartman, who killed her husband and
herself, was on the psychiatric drug Zoloft.

Why has there been no mention of the risks of taking these drugs? I
think
we have put too much trust in the psychiatric community in allowing
them to
put so many of our children on drugs. The pharmaceutical industry which
is
making big money on the proliferation of legal drug use and the rising
costs of drugs is not going to complain. We must complain.

PAT SPRUILL, Plano

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07/19/1999 – My antidepressant made me do it! – Hartman estate says

The following article makes its first appearance today (7/19/99) on
salon.com:

My antidepressant made me do it!
The Hartman estate says Zoloft was to blame for a murder-suicide.
By Rob Waters

(http://www.salon.com/health/feature/1999/07/19/zoloft/index.html)

My antidepressant made me do it!

The Hartman estate says Zoloft was
to blame for a murder-suicide.

– – – – – – – – – – – –
By Rob Waters

July 19, 1999 | It was May 1998, and comedian Phil Hartman and his wife, Brynn, were planning a party. Their son, Sean, was soon turning 10 and they wanted to make it special with a bash at Planet Hollywood. Brynn was inviting her son’s friends, including some of his classmates from his school in Encino.

In mid-May she called Kathryn Alice, the mother of one of Sean’s friends, to get her address. Sean and Calvin, Kathryn’s son, played together and had visited each other’s homes. Through their sons, the moms had gotten to know each other, too. They chatted on the phone, and Brynn confided that things were tough. “She said she was barely hanging on by a thread,” Alice recalls. “I told her things will get better, but she said ‘I don’t know.'”

The invitation soon arrived in the mail, but the birthday party never happened. On May 28, at about 2:30 a.m., Brynn Hartman returned home from a night out with a female friend. As Sean and his sister, Birgen, slept in their rooms, Brynn entered the master bedroom and shot her sleeping husband three times. Four hours later, with police in the house and friends listening outside, Brynn lay down on the bed next to Phil’s body and pulled the trigger once more, killing herself.

How could this happen? Why did a woman who was, by all accounts, a devoted and protective mother, deprive her children of their parents? In the days after the killings, the tabloids and mainstream press ruminated over the problems in the couple’s often stormy relationship, speculating that Phil was preparing to leave her, or that she had relapsed into an old cocaine addiction. People magazine reported that she had recently started drinking again after 10 years of near-sobriety and had checked into an Arizona rehab clinic earlier in the year. Indeed, toxicology reports cited in press accounts indicate that at the time she died, Brynn Hartman had both cocaine and alcohol in her system.

But the couple’s family and their lawyers have another answer: Zoloft made her do it.

In late May 1999, one year after the deaths, attorneys for the Hartmans’ estate and children filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that makes Zoloft, a new-generation antidepressant similar to Prozac. The suit contends that Brynn Hartman’s violent outburst was caused by a rare but previously documented side effect of the medication that left her agitated, jittery and “out of touch with reality.” It is one of more than 170 wrongful death lawsuits filed against the makers of these new antidepressants since Prozac first hit the market 12 years ago.

The Hartman suit also charges that Arthur Sorosky, the psychiatrist that supplied Brynn Hartman with Zoloft, was not really her doctor and never conducted an evaluation. Sorosky, the complaint alleges, was actually her son Sean’s doctor and gave Brynn medication samples — the kind doled out to physicians by drug company salesmen — “without the benefit of a history and physical examination [or] diagnosis.”

Sorosky’s attorney, Joel Douglas, told Salon Health that his client and Brynn Hartman had “a doctor-patient relationship” and that Sorosky had prescribed the Zoloft in a proper and appropriate way. “From what I understand,” he added, “with cocaine and alcohol in her system, you don’t need to look for Zoloft to understand what happened.”

Original report on murder/suicide: http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/TV/9805/28/hartman/

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7/02/1999 – Welcome to the Drug Awareness E-Mail Group

The International Coalition For Drug Awareness is a private, non-profit group of
physicians, researchers, journalists and concerned citizens. Our primary focus
is to address the world’s most pervasive and subtle drug problem – prescription
drugs. We are dedicated to educating the people of the world regarding the
potential harmful and life threatening short and long term effects of these
drugs. As the cause of an estimated 200,000 deaths per year in America, drug
reactions are now the third leading cause of death! The most dangerous period of
time for a drug is upon market introduction. At that point physicians and their
patients have information on adverse reactions present in the controlled
environment of a clinical trial, but are unaware of the potential adverse
reactions of these new drugs when dispensed to the general public. We feel there
is a need to track and report patient reactions more carefully and more rapidly
than what is presently being done, which should result in lower medical costs
for the patients and doctors as well. And also might begin to breech the gap
that is beginning to form between well-meaning doctors and maltreated patients.
By keeping prescribing physicians and their patients abreast of recent adverse
reaction reports we hope to cut the number of unnecessary deaths due to drug
reactions and interactions and lessen the number of malpractice suits filed
against physicians as a result of those reactions. Beyond this public education
process our intention is to serve as an watch dog group in relationship with the
FDA and equivalent organizations around the world, encouraging them to remove
drugs which demonstrate high numbers of dangerous adverse reactions and threaten
the public safety.

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