SC Family of Four Dead in Murder/Suicide

miller family

Sheddrick Byron Miller, 38, Kia, 28, Kyler 3 and Syrai, 1

The father shot all of them this past week and everyone who knew them is looking for the anser as to why someone would do something so completely out of character. Each family member died from a gunshot to the head, Watts said. Once again when this is so out of character we have to ask if antidepressants were involved. Hopefully we will have those answers quickly in this case but the answer rarely comes quickly or easily. We do know the markers are there because it generally takes a brain tumor or a chemical to change behavior that drastically.

Original Article: http://www.thestate.com/2014/01/16/3210387/ids-expected-to-be-released-in.html

Friends struggling with why religious Irmo man would kill his family, himself

BY NOELLE PHILLIPS
nophillips@thestate.com January 16, 2014

A photo shows a smiling family wearing their Sunday best while standing on the front porch of a recently bought home.

The happiness in that Facebook picture – and dozens of others posted on the social media site – is how friends and acquaintances knew the Miller family.

And people who talked Thursday about that family said they don’t understand what would have led the father, 38-year-old Sheddrick Byron Miller, to shoot and kill his wife and two children before turning a gun on himself.

“I’m sick to my stomach,” said Tammy Doctor, who owns a beauty salon next to a barber shop that Miller owned. “He never showed one sign. I can’t see it.”

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts released a short report Thursday identifying Miller, his wife, 28-year-old Kia Von Miller, and their children, Kyler, 3, and Syrai, 1. Each family member died from a gunshot to the head, Watts said.

It appeared that Sheddrick Miller shot his children and wife before turning the gun on himself, the coroner said. However, the exact time and the circumstances surrounding the shootings remain under investigation, he said.

Two cars were parked Thursday evening outside the family’s white, two-story home in the Riverwalk subdivision off Broad River Road. Two teddy bears and a splash of white flowers had been placed in the front yard.

Richland County sheriff’s investigators said they were called to the home around 10:30 a.m., Wednesday by Sheddrick Miller’s mother. She had gone to the house after she did not hear from her son for several days, according to earlier sheriff’s department reports.

Investigators found the children in their own bedrooms and the adults were found together in another room. A handgun was near the father, the sheriff’s reports stated.

The family appeared to have spent much of their time in the Broad River Road area as their home, business and church were off the major thoroughfare that runs from north Columbia to Irmo.

They attended the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witness, where they were known by pretty much everyone in the congregation, said Gary Malcome, a minister. A neighbor said the couple hosted Bible studies at their home.

Church members were struggling to accept the news, and Malcome said they hoped to release a statement soon.

“As you can imagine the situation is just terrible, and we don’t know what to say at this time,” Malcome said as he put his hand on his forehead. “What do you say in a case like this?”

Malcome said he was just trying to take care of his congregation.

Sheddrick Miller owned Kyler’s Barber Shop, a storefront tucked into a pocket of small businesses on Seminole Road, off Broad River Road. The shop was named after his son. Miller also had created a line of fragrances that he had named “Syrai” after his daughter and sold them in the shop.

Miller had owned the barber shop for several years, Doctor said. They visited each other’s shops often to talk or to make change if one of them needed smaller bills, she said.

The shop had a barber’s chair shaped like a race car for children, and the Millers’ son would sit in it when he came to work with his father, she said. Doctor also described Miller as a “genius with the clippers,” saying he could cut any design into a person’s close-cropped hair.

Kia Miller was a stay-at-home mom, Doctor said. The couple each had ties to New York, she said.

“He was a religious man,” she said. “He loved his kids. Beautiful wife.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas, but the Miller family had gone to Walt Disney World in Orlando over the holidays, Doctor said. Sheddrick Miller was expected to re-open his shop on Monday but did not, she said.

“His clients started coming over here,” Doctor said. “They had been calling and calling and calling.”

As far as Doctor could tell, the Millers were a happy, loving family. There were no outward signs of problems, she said. She said she has no idea why Sheddrick Miller would have shot his family and himself.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott declined to offer further details about what might have caused Sheddrick Miller to do what he did.

“It’s a tragic situation,” he said.

In 2013, domestic violence led to an increase in homicides in the county, Lott said. He lamented that 2014 has started with four homicides caused by domestic violence.

“What bothers us is how do we prevent this from happening,” he said.

Reporter Cassie Cope contributed.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2014/01/16/3210387/ids-expected-to-be-released-in.html#storylink=cpy

 

Coroner identifies family as the victims in Riverwalk murder-suicide

Posted: Jan 15, 2014 7:55 PM PST
Updated: Jan 26, 2014 12:18 PM PST

The Richland County Coroner’s Office has released the identities of the four people killed in a murder-suicide on Forest Walk Court in Irmo.

Coroner Gary Watts says 38-year-old Sheddrick Miller, 28-year-old Kia Von Miller, 3-year-old Kyler Devane Miller, and 1-year-old Syrai Raquel Miller all died from gunshot wounds to the head.

“It appears that Mr. Miller shot his family members and then turned the gun on himself making this a murder-suicide,” said Watts.

Watts says it is currently unknown when exactly the incident took place.

Deputies received a call about the incident at Forest Walk Court before noon Wednesday. Wilson said the male victim’s mother came to the home and found the scene after not hearing from her son for several days.

Neighbors tell us the Millers were Jehovah’s Witnesses and very involved in their religion. Sheddrick, a barber, was a small business owner.

On Thursday, crime scene tape at the Forest Walk Court home was replaced by a memorial to Kyler and Syrai — two teddy bears on the front lawn and flowers.

The sign on the door at Miller’s barbershop has said closed for several days, with customers saying they haven’t seen Miller since last week. They’re shocked that something like this could happen to what seemed to be a tight-knit family.

“Everybody’s in awe, everybody’s shocked, because he catered to a lot of people in the community,” said customer Christopher O’Berry. “A lot of people around here went in there and got their hair cut, came and visited with him. He was a genuine character.”

O’Berry says this incident is not in line with who Miller was — a clean-cut guy always in suits.

“He was always talking about his religious beliefs and he seemed to be a well-rounded individual,” said O’Berry.

Customers in the shop said Miller had talked about the family’s recent trip to Disney World. They also said Kyler was always in the barbershop with his father.

“All of us are waiting to hear what led to this,” said O’Berry.

Sheriff’s investigators continue to look into the circumstances leading up to the Miller’s deaths. The coroner’s office, meanwhile, says they’re still waiting on several toxicology reports.

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

http://www.live5news.com/story/24466406/coroner-identifies-family-of-four-as-the-victims-in-riverwalk-murder-suicide

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Kauffman Study – (SSRI) Drugs: More Risks Than Benefits?

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009

SSRI Bombshell by Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D. Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) Drugs: More Risks Than Benefits?

Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT

Anecdotal reports have suggested that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may cause suicidal or violent behavior in some patients. Because of the publicity surrounding certain events, and the numerous lawsuits that have been filed, a review of benefits and risks is needed.

At most 30% of patients receive a benefit from SSRIs beyond the large placebo effect in certain mental conditions, especially depression, according to a recent meta-analysis of published trials. An equally recent meta-analysis of all SSRI trials submitted to the FDA showed a small benefit for the severely depressed patients only. Many early unpublished trials did not show any benefit. Adverse effects are common, occurring in up to 75% of subjects.

Severe adverse effects may be underreported.

Meta- analyses of controlled trials did not include any actual suicides or murders, but only suicidality, some finding, in 1991 and 2007, no evidence even of suicidality.

Other meta-analyses using many of the same trials found that suicidality doubled to 1 in 500 on SSRIs compared with placebo or non-SSRI antidepressants, but did not include any actual suicides or murders. The trial designs were devised by SSRI makers to prevent reports of suicides, by eliminating subjects with the slightest trace of suicidal tendencies. Retrospective studies by others showed actual suicides on SSRIs with a relative risk (RR) of 2–3 compared with non-SSRI antidepressants, with an increased incidence of 123/100,000. Lower doses than the smallest available ones were found to maintain benefits in a majority of patients while reducing risks.

table_03_zoloftbusted1

[PLEASE NOTE THAT THE SSRISTORIES DATABASE REFERRED TO BY DR. KAUFFMAN IN THIS STUDY IS NO LONGER POSTED AT THE URL LISTED ABOVE BUT HAS BEEN MOVED TO THE URL www.ssristories.NET ]

No causal connection between SSRIs and suicide and/or violence has been proved; neither has it been ruled out. Physicians need to be vigilant, and aware of legal precedents that may subject them to enhanced liability when prescribing these drugs. The Genesis of SSRIs Fluoxetine (Prozac in the U.S., see Table 1), introduced in 1988 to combat depression, was the fourth selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) on the U.S. market, after being seriously considered by Eli Lilly as an antihypertensive drug. Unlike the earlier “tricyclics” (amitripyline, clomipramine, dothiepin, imipramine, etc.) and other drug classes, SSRIs acted on the brain to raise levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin without raising the levels of norepinephrine. This was thought to be a benefit in treatment of depression, and later anxiety, panic, social phobia, obsessive- compulsive disorder (OCD) , and many other conditions. The SSRIs listed in Table 1 are among the most frequently prescribed in the U.S., and compete with the five non- SSRIs shown, and others.

ssri-drug-table1

Benefits of SSRIs

A prominent recent meta-analysis of Bridge et al. included 27 trials of SSRIs for three defined mental conditions: major depressive disorder (MDD), OCD, and non-OCD anxiety disorders. Benefits, compared with placebo, were found to be highly statistically significant. For MDD, data from 13 trials showed benefit in 61% vs. 50% on placebo, a gain of 11% absolute (NNT=10), <0.001 for all ages of participants. For OCD, data from six trials showed benefit in 52% vs. 32% on placebo, a gain of 20% absolute (NNT=5), <0.001 for all ages. For non-OCD anxiety, data from 6 trials showed benefit in 69% vs. 39% on placebo, a gain of 30% absolute (NNT=3), <0.001 for all ages. These results represent the maximum expectation of benefit from SSRIs since 22 of the 27 trials were financially supported by SSRI makers, and thus subject to the routinely positive bias of industry-sponsored clinical trials. Jay S. Cohen, M.D., author of the 2001 book , wrote that half his patients did well on fluoxetine, but he noted a high incidence (50%) with side-effects. Cohen also cited a pre-approval study showing that the standard 20 mg per day starting dose helped 65% of patients, while 5 mg helped 54%, so Cohen became one of the pioneers in using lower doses before Lilly made them available. The 1996 entry for paroxetine, at least, confirmed that the 17 most common side-effects were dose-dependent.

In four observational cohort studies of four common SSRIs reported by physicians as part of the prescription-event monitoring program in the UK, with more than 10,000 patients in each drug group, only 36% of the physicians reported fluvoxamine as effective, compared with 60% for fluoxetine, sertraline, and paroxetine. These possible benefit rates, which include the placebo effect, parallel the percentage of patients remaining on the drug for 2 months.

See: Over Dose: the Case Against the Drug Companies

An old trial of placebo for anxious and depressed subjects reduced distress in 43%. Three meta-analyses of the antidepressant literature that appeared in the 1990s independently concluded that two-thirds of the effectiveness attributed to SSRIs is actually placebo effect. In a series of nine controlled studies on hospitalized patients with depression, 57% of those given placebo showed improvement in 2–6 weeks. A 1998 meta-analysis of 47 trials on antidepressant medication including SSRIs indicated that 75% of the response to them was duplicated by placebo. This meta-analysis was criticized on several grounds. Therefore, Irving Kirsch, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut, with other authors, obtained data submitted to the FDA on every placebo-controlled clinical trial on the six most widely used SSRIs, and published a meta-analysis on 47 trials, finding a small, clinically insignificant effect.

This work was updated in 2008:

Analyses of datasets including unpublished as well as published clinical trials reveal smaller effects that fall well below recommended criteria for clinical effectiveness. Specifically, a meta-analysis of clinical trial data submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed a mean drug–placebo difference in improvement scores of 1.80 points on the Hamilton Rating Scale of Depression (HRSD), whereas the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) used a drug–placebo difference of three points as a criterion for clinical significance when establishing guidelines for the treatment of depression in the United Kingdom. Kirsch et al. concluded that the updated findings from 35 carefully vetted trials suggest that, compared with placebo, the four new- generation antidepressants ( fluoxetine, venlfaxine, nefazodone, and paroxetine) do not produce clinically significant improvements in depression in patients who initially have moderate or even severe depression.

They show statistically significant but clinically minor effects only in the most severely depressed patients. Moreover, the significance of the effect probably is based on a decreased responsiveness to placebo, rather than increased responsiveness to medication. Given these results, the researchers conclude that there is little reason to prescribe new- generation antidepressant medications to any but the most severely depressed patients unless alternative treatments have been ineffective. In addition, they write that the decreased placebo response in extremely depressed patients, combined with a response to antidepressants comparable to that of less severely depressed patients, is a potentially important insight that should be investigated further.

Even these unimpressive findings exaggerated the benefits of antidepressants. In three fluoxetine trials and in the three sertraline trials for which data were reported, the protocol allowed replacement of patients who, in the investigators’ judgment, were not improving after 2 weeks. The trials also included a 1–2 week washout period, during which patients were given a placebo prior to randomization. Those whose scores improved 20% or more were excluded from the study. In 25 trials, the use of other psychoactive medication was reported. In most trials, a chloral hydrate sedative was permitted in doses ranging from 500 mg to 2,000 mg per day. Other psychoactive medication was usually prohibited but still reported as having been taken in several trials.

Perhaps such considerations led David Healy, M.D., an SSRI expert, to his conclusion that “…these drugs do not convincingly work….” His evidence came from early unpublished clinical trials whose results were revealed to him at FDA hearings. For fluoxetine, Healy noted four trials with a positive result and four without. For sertraline, only one of five early studies showed benefit. Because of the huge placebo effect, 32–75%, most physicians unfamiliar with the studies revealing this effect are likely, in my opinion, to say that one-third to two-thirds of their patients are improved on SSRIs. This would also explain Dr. Jay S. Cohen’s findings on lower doses of fluoxetine.

SSRIs reportedly interact with 40 other drugs to cause “serotonin syndrome.”

This presents as twitching, tremors, rigidity, fever, confusion, or agitation. Serotonin/norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) also may cause serotonin syndrome by interactions. Most tricyclic depressants do not have these interactions, with the exception of amitriptyline.

In a controlled trial of paroxetine vs. clomipramine sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline, 75% of the subjects had an adverse effect on paroxetine, 21% had a severe adverse effect, and 13% committed a suicidal act (1 in 8). The 1996 entry for paroxetine lists 17 side-effects with an incidence of ≥ 5% for approved doses.

They are: asthenia, sweating, constipation, decreased appetite, diarrhea (up to 15%), dry mouth (up to 21%), nausea (up to 36%), anxiety, dizziness, nervousness, paresthesia, somnolence (up to 22%), tremor (up to 15%), blurred vision, abnormal ejaculation, impotence, and other male genital disorders. Fully 31 additional side effects with an incidence at least 1% greater than placebo were listed, including uncontrollable yawning.

Murder, suicide, and suicidality were NOT [emphasis added] included.

Nor were they on comparable lists for fluvoxamine, or sertraline. For fluvoxamine, suicide were separately listed as “infrequent.”

For fluoxetine, suicidal ideation was listed as a voluntary report not proved to be drug related. For sertraline, suicidal ideation and attempt were listed separately as “infrequent.”

The entry for venlafaxine was: “…the possibility of a suicide attempt is inherent in depression.” Not found in the was weight gain, which Cohen lists as a serious side effect.

Typical dropout rates in recent trials are claimed to be 5% (see below), but these must be short trials, or trials with a run-in period. In a meta-analysis of 62 earlier trials with a total of 6,000 subjects, the mean total dropout rate and the proportion of dropouts due to side effects appear comparable to results in general practice: total dropout rates of between 30% and 70% have been reported by 6 weeks, of which some 30%–40% are attributed to side effects and the rest to failure of treatment. Early findings of severe adverse effects by SSRI makers came to light only after the class was established. Of 53 healthy volunteer studies on fluoxetine, the results of only 12 were openly reported.

From 35 healthy volunteer studies on paroxetine, pre-launch, the results of only 14 appeared. From 35 pre-launch healthy volunteer studies on sertraline, only seven appeared. Among the unpublished trials, there was one in which all volunteers dropped out because of agitation (akathisia). In published work on sertraline, data excluded material on behavioral toxicity, including at least one suicide of a Adverse Effects of healthy volunteer, and in a different trial, 2 of 20 volunteers became intensely suicidal. This last is consistent with the dropout rate of 5% for agitation alone in actual trials. It is also consistent with Lilly’s animal studies, in which previously friendly cats treated with fluoxetine started growling and hissing—an unheeded warning.

Just a year after fluoxetine was introduced, Bill Forsyth of Maui, Hawaii, had taken it for only 12 days when he committed one of the first murder/suicides attributed to any SSRI.

In the same year Joseph Wesbecker killed eight others and himself in a Louisville, Ky., printing plant where he worked, after 4 weeks on fluoxetine. Yet as early as 1986, clinical trials showed a rate of 12.5 suicides per 1,000 subjects on fluoxetine vs. 3.8 on older non-SSRIs vs. 2.5 on placebo! An internal 1985 Lilly document found even worse results and said that benefits were less than risks. Such documents were released into the public domain by Lilly as part of the settlement in the Wesbecker case. Fifteen more “anecdotes” of murder/suicide, three with sertraline, were listed by DeGrandpre.

Lilly’s denials of a link to murder/suicide on national television and elsewhere cited a sponsored meta-analysis in in 1991, which exonerated fluoxetine as a cause of suicidal acts or thoughts without even mentioning actual murder or suicide. This study included only 3,067 patients of the 26,000 in the clinical trials it utilized. None of the trials had a declared endpoint of suicidality.

Some of the trials had been rejected by the FDA. No mention was made that Lilly had had benzodiazepines co-prescribed to minimizethe agitation that had been recognized with fluoxetine alone. The 5% dropout rate for anxiety and agitation (akathisia) would have taken out the most likely candidates for suicide. Nevertheless, the 1991 study had its intended effect. For example, in 2006 a 900-page tome entitled , which was aimed at attorneys, cited this study, and failed lawsuits concerning SSRIs. The 2007 meta-analysis by Bridge et al. may be influenced by indirect conflicts of interest that are hard to prove based on the financial disclosures.

Their paper pooled excess risk above placebo for “suicidal ideation/suicide attempt” from 27 trials. The excess risk was said to be 0.7% and statistically significant across all indications, but significant within each indication. Of the 27 trials, only five were sponsored by the drug maker, and one of these, the 2004 Treatment for Adolescents with Depression (TADS) study of fluoxetine, had the highest rate of suicidality—7% above placebo. Most of the same trials were used in a meta-analysis by the FDA, which found a statistically significant excess risk of 2% (4% vs. 2% on placebo, 1 in 50 more). Bridge et al. used a random-effects calculation, while the FDA used a fixed-effects calculation.

In commenting on the negative findings, Bridge et al. write: “No study [in our meta-analysis] was designed to examine suicidal ideation/suicide attempt as a study outcome, and in fact most trials were conducted in patients who had been carefully screened to exclude youths at risk.” No actual murders or suicides associated with SSRI use were reported. Did the designs of the studies preclude detection or reporting?

The Bridge meta-analysis was not just a vindication of SSRIs, as communicated to the by Gilbert Ross, M.D., Medical Director of the American Council on Science & Health. Ross went further, commenting that the FDA “Black Box warning” (see below) was counterproductive because it was discouraging the use of antidepressants! Ross speculated that the lethal rampage of the Virginia Tech shooter might have resulted from premature cessation of medications.

SSRIs in general have long lifetimes in the body. Fluoxetine and its active metabolite in particular have a half-life of 16 days, according to the 1996 . In a reexamination of trials in which suicides or attempts during the inadequate washout period were not blamed on the drug, it was shown that the relative risk (RR) of suicidal acts ranged from 3 for sertraline to 10 for fluoxetine.

A concurrent meta-analysis of 24 trials by Kaizar et al. utilized Bayesian statistics, a valid choice, in my opinion, because data do not have to follow a Gaussian or normal curve to yield valid results, and this method can be used to revise probabilities to determine whether a specific effect was due to a specific cause. They found an association between SSRI use and suicidality with odds ratios of 2.3 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.3-3.8), when the diagnosis was MDD, not OCD, anxiety, nor ADHD. Non-SSRI antidepressants were said to have no association with suicide. This supports the FDA’s findings and requirement, as of October, 2004, for a Black Box warning for all SSRIs, to monitor children and adolescents for suicidality. Kaizar et al. were concerned that there were no completed suicides among 4,487 subjects in the trials; that the trial times were too short at median length of 8 weeks; and that in 10 of the 12 MDD studies, Again, there was no citation of actual suicides associated with SSRIs and no citation of Healy’s work.

Healy reviewed epidemiologic studies that have been cited to exonerate SSRIs. One was analyzed by Healy to show a threefold increase in suicidality compared with other antidepressants.While “treatment-related activation” has been considered primarily with regard to suicidality, it can lead to harm to others as well as to self. Healy summarized data on “hostile episodes” provided by GlaxoSmithKline from placebo-controlled trials with paroxetine in subjects of all ages: 9,219 on paroxetine and 6,455 on placebo. The rubric of “hostility” was used in the trial to code for aggression and violence, including homicide, homicidal acts, and homicidal ideation, as well as aggressive events and “conduct disorders.” No homicides were reported from these trials.

Overall, during both therapy and withdrawal, the RR was 2.1 for hostile events. In children with OCD the RR was 17. Separately, in healthy volunteer studies, hostile events occurred in 3 of 271 subjects on paroxetine vs. none of 138 on placebo. In trials of sertraline on depressed children submitted by Pfizer, 8 of 189 subjects discontinued for aggression, agitation, or hyperkinesis (a coding term for akathisia), compared with 0 of 184 on placebo. In clinical practice, the term akathisia has been restricted to demonstrable motor restlessness, but if that is the only effect, it would have been called dyskinesia according to Healy, who cites four studies linking akathisia to both suicide and homicide.

Actual suicides were combined with suicide attempts in a 2005 meta-analysis of 702 trials of SSRIs vs. either placebo or an active non-SSRI control. Studies were rejected if the citation was a review, a result of duplicate publication, too short, crossover, or had no reporting of actual or attempted suicide. The studies meeting the criteria included 88,000 patients. For attempted suicide, the RR was 2.3 for SSRIs vs. placebo (95% CI, 1.14-4.55). The number needed to treat to harm (sometimes called the “reverse NNT”) was 1 in 684. There was no difference in actual suicide. Of the 702 trials, 104 failed to report adverse events below a certain pre-set limit of 3%, 5%, or 10% of patients. Only 493 trials reported dropout rates, with a mean of 29%, and the mean follow-up time was only 11 weeks. Thus, there was clearly gross underreporting of adverse effects. PDR children and adolescents with an elevated baseline risk of suicide were excluded.

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009 9

More importantly, because actual suicides are involved, Healy cited a study by Donovan et al. that demonstrated a RR=3.4 ( <0.01) for SSRIs compared with all non-SSRI antidepressants involving 222 actual suicides, of which 41 were among patients who had an SSRI within a month of their suicide. Also the British Drug Safety Research Unit recorded more than 110 suicides in 50,000 patients taking an SSRI, an incidence of 219/100,000 compared with 96/100,000 for the non-SSRI mirtazepine (Remeron), an increase of 123/100,000, or 1 in 813 (Table 2). Thus the RR for actual suicide in patients taking SSRIs was 2.3 (or 2.8 for paroxetine). Even here, though, no murders were listed.

In another study cited by Healy, Jick et al. reported 143 actual suicides among 172,598 patients taking antidepressants. The relative risk of suicide in patients taking fluoxetine was 2.1, compared with those taking the tricyclic antidepressant dothiepin. The risk was not age-dependent. SSRI makers keep insisting that there will be more suicides if SSRIs are used as frequently as now. But the RR of 2–3 shown in studies is a number that the number of suicides that may have been prevented, so SSRI use is associated with more suicides, not fewer.

The International Coalition for Drug Awareness in cooperation with the Prozac Survivors Support Group has produced a website on which about 1,600 violent incidents associated with SSRI use are described ( www.ssristories.net ). The first column on the type of incident (murder, school shooting, etc.) is a hot link to a publicly available description of the incident, typically a local newspaper article. A selection of 10 entries (rows) is presented here as Table 3. About 360 suicides are tallied as well as about 400 murder incidents, many of which were multiple murders, each linked to 26 not net includesSSRIs Provide 1,600 Anecdotes of Violence SSRI use (Rosie Meysenburg, personal communication, 2008 .

As the number of “anecdotes” exceeds 1,600—hardly a small number—the association of SSRIs with murder/suicide, often combined, must be taken seriously. The SSRI website was searched to find combined murder/suicide incidents attributed to a specific SSRI. There were three for fluvoxamine, four for citalopram, 10 each for paroxetine and sertraline, and 31 for fluoxetine. Where the studies above substantiated suicide from SSRI use, the total on the SSRI website of 48 simultaneous murder/suicide incidents associated with SSRI use ties together SSRIs and murder. Since there were about two murders per suicide, we may infer that the murder rate on SSRIs could be about 250/100,000. Since no clinical trial involving multiple homicides is ever likely to be run, no firmer evidence is likely to be found. Healy noted that much of the evidence for suicide and murder came from the efforts of journalists and lawyers.
Note that the website carries a prominent warning that “withdrawal can often be more dangerous than continuing on a medication.” Nine violent events cited elsewhere—seven court cases of homicide (one attempted) and two assaults—were associated with specific SSRIs: three with paroxetine, three with sertraline, two with fluoxetine, and one with venlafaxine. Skeptics have cast doubt on whether the prescribed SSRIs were actually taken, especially since many medical records of juveniles were sealed. In the Columbine, Colo., shootings the toxicology report showed “therapeutic” levels of fluvoxamine in one of the shooters. The Red Lake, Minn., shooter had fluoxetine found, according to news items referenced on the website.

A 2004 editorial in by Simon Wessely, M.D., a spokes- man for Eli Lilly, and Robert Kerwin, Ph.D, cited only a single paper by Healy as a source of claims of suicidality that have found a receptive media audience. Tellingly, the only study described at length is by Jick et al. on the correlation of SSRI use and “attempted suicide,” in which the rates on dothiepin, amitriptyline, fluoxetine and paroxetine were not statistically different. Actual suicides in this study (seven on SSRIs) were not mentioned by Wessely and Kerwin, nor were the 143 suicides in Jick’s earlier paper. Jick et al. have been supported partially by GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. No study that reported actual suicides on SSRIs was described in detail, let alone refuted. Wessely and Kerwin wrote: “The problem is that depression is unequivocally and substantially associated with suicide and self-harm.” True, but this not the truth.

Table 2. Suicides Related to SSRIs or Mirtazapine

table_02_zoloftbusted1

The legal defense by Lilly, repeated by the media and others, is that any suicides are caused by the condition, depression, not by their drug—whether the violence is associated with short-term drug use, long-term drug use, increased doses, withdrawal, or rechallenge. There is no website, as far as I know, for violent acts committed by persons who never received SSRIs, or for total violent acts; hence the denominator for violent acts is not known. Also unknown is the fraction of potentially violent persons who are treated with SSRIs, or of persons treated with SSRIs who are potentially violent. The published studies on actual suicide, however, compare patients on SSRIs with similar patients on non- SSRI antidepressants or placebo. Children diagnosed with OCD, not depression, also became suicidal on SSRIs, as did healthy volunteers.

Actual two- to threefold increases in suicide rates have been demonstrated as well as they could be. How else could such effects be demonstrated? Who would submit, and what institutional review board or human subjects committee would approve a study explicitly designed to show whether assaultive, homicidal, or other violent behavior increases in subjects prescribed the study drug?

Denial by SSRI makers of culpability for these risks continues to this day. Whether physicians’ acting on the Black Box warnings of 2004 and 2007 for all SSRIs will diminish the incidence of murders and suicides is not yet known. Following the introduction of fluoxetine in 1988, only a year passed before an early user committed multiple murders and suicide; many other examples followed. More than 200 lawsuits have been begun by users of SSRIs and victims’ families charging wrongful death or failure to warn; these have had mixed outcomes. There is now legal precedent for SSRIs as a cause of murder, and the maker of the SSRI is potentially liable for damages, according to David Healy.

Eli Lilly responded with total denial to the lawsuits claiming a link between fluoxetine and violence. Several claims were settled out of court with secret details and no admission of guilt. The Australian David Hawkins was freed from a murder charge by a finding of temporary insanity caused by using sertraline. Tim Tobin of Wyoming won $6.4 million from SmithKline Beecham when a jury found that a murder/suicide committed by Donald Schell was attributable to use of paroxetine. There are four other homicide cases in which the SSRI was deemed to have contributed, resulting in a suspended sentence in one case and an insanity verdict in another.

One case of homicide, with a guilty verdict and a life sentence, followed a judicial ruling that akathisia was associated with SSRI use, but that a causal relationship with homicide could not be argued; thus the link of an SSRI with homicide was disallowed. This was in direct conflict with the findings of the four trials cited above. The SSRI website was searched to find murders related to a specific SSRI whose perpetrators were acquitted based on temporary SSRI-induced insanity. There were two cases with sertraline, four cases with paroxetine, and four cases with fluoxetine. So a precedent has been established for legal recognition that an SSRI can be a cause for murder, and that the drug maker can be found liable for damages. The notices of suicidality for the SSRIs found in the PDR or package inserts before 2004 did not really warn of actual suicide or murder.

200 SSRI-related Lawsuits

The Black Box warning of 2004 about possible suicide in children under 18 years of age did not cover adults or murder at any age, so potential liability for the SSRI makers still exists. In 2007 the warning was extended to persons under age 25 years. David Healy was quoted as saying that the warning was overdue, and that the risk was not likely to disappear above age 25. This was shown by the trials from GlaxoSmithKline on paroxetine cited above.

Antidepressants are extraordinarily difficult to assess for risks or benefits in trials. At most, 11%–30% of patients with depression or related conditions who take SSRIs actually benefited beyond the placebo effect on normal doses. Of the perceived benefit, 32%–67% can be attributed to the placebo effect. Adverse effects, mostly dose-dependent, will appear in up to 75% of patients on normal doses. Of these, studies suggest that suicidality will be observed in an additional 2%–13% (1 in 50 to 1 in 9) of patients on normal doses, beyond what is seen on placebo or many non-SSRI antidepressant drugs. This is sufficiently frequent that a typical prescribing physician should observe examples in routine practice.

The actual suicide rate could be about 123/100,000 (1 in 813) higher in patients on SSRIs than in those on tricyclics or placebo. Studies show that many more suicides are on normal doses of SSRIs beyond what is seen on placebo or many non-SSRI antidepressant drugs. Available data suggest that actual murders may be committed at about the rate of 250/100,000 (1 in 400) SSRI-treated patients beyond what is seen on placebo or many non-SSRI antidepressantdrugs, and that many more murders will be attempted on normal doses as well. While correlation does not prove causation, and results of court trials are not medical science, the data for suicide are solid, and the association of murder with suicide is very suggestive. Now that there is a stronger Black Box warning, physicians who ignore it may be liable for damages; the warning primarily protects the manufacturers of SSRIs. There is obviously great peril in drawing conclusions about causat i on from press report s or court decisions.

While manufacturers have a vested interest in exonerating their drugs, plaintiffs have an interest in blaming it, and defendants in exonerating themselves. We need careful, independent analysis of existing study data. In addition to randomized controlled trials, evidence from basic science ( neuropharmacology) and challenge/dechallenge/rechallenge investigations needs to be sought. Both the public and individual patients are imperiled by an incorrect answer to the pressing questions about these widely prescribed drugs. Future studies may show lower levels of murder and suicide with close supervision, and with better matching of this drug type to patient type.

Conclusionsattemptedsimultaneous
Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D.

Acknowledgements:
Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D., professor of chemistry emeritus at the
University of the Sciences, 600 S. 43rd St., Philadelphia, PA 19104-4495,
Contact: kauffman@bee.net.

Learn More
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Order Today
Frances E. H. Pane edited the manuscript. David Moncrief piqued my interest by providing a review copy of by Richard DeGrandpre.
The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World’s Most Troubled Drug Culture

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009 11
Potential conflicts of interest: The author has neither a financial interest in any drug mentioned, nor in any alternate treatments for treating any mental illness.

REFERENCES
DeGrandpre R.,Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press; 2006.

The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World’s Most Troubled Drug Culture.
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Jørgensen AW, Hilden J, Gøtzsche PC. Cochrane reviews compared
with industry supported meta-analyses and other meta-analyses of
the same drugs: systematic review. doi:10.1136/bmj.38973.
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Cohen JS. New York, N.Y.: Tarcher/Putnam; 2001.

Mackay FJ, Dunn NR, Wilton LV, et al. A comparison of fluvoxamine, fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine examined by observational cohort studies. 1997;6:235-246.

Park L, Covi L. Nonblind placebo trial. 1965;336-345.

Cole JO. Therapeutic efficiency of antidepressant drugs: a review. 1964;190:124-131.

Kirsch I, Moore TJ, Scoboria A, et al. The emperor’s new drugs: an analysis of antidepressant medication data submitted to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration. 2002;5(1):23-33.

Kirsch I, Deacon BJ, Huedo-Medina TB, et al. Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. 2008;5(2):e45. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045.

Healy D. One flew over the conflict of interest nest. 2007;6(1):26-27.

Healy D. New York, N.Y.: New York University Press; 2004.

Healy D. FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee hearings. Available at:: www.healyprozac.com/PDAC. Accessed May 13, 2007.

Wolfe SM, ed. SSRIs can have dangerous interactions with other drugs. 2008;14(1):2-5. www.citizen.org/hrg/. Accessed Feb 4, 2009.

JAMA BMJ, Over Dose: The Case Against the Drug Companies.
Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Safety Arch Gen Psychiatry

JAMA
Prevention & Treatment
PLoS Medicine
World Psychiatry
Let Them Eat Prozac: The Unhealthy Relationship Between the Pharmaceutical Industry and Depression.
Worst Pills Best Pills News

Braconnier A, Le Coent R, Cohen D. Paroxetine versus clomipramine in adolescents with severe major depression: a double-blind, randomized, multicenter trial. 2003;42:22-29.

Anderson IM, Tomenson BM. Treatment discontinuation with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors compared with tricyclic antidepressants: a meta-analysis. 1995;310:1433-1438.

Healy D. Lines of evidence on the risks of suicide with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. 2003:72:71-79.

Healy D, Herxheimer A, Menkes DB. Antidepressants and violence: problems at the interface of medicine and law.
2006;3(9):1478-1487.

Beasley CM, Dornseif BE, Bosomworth JC. Fluoxetine and suicide: a meta-analysis of controlled trials of treatment for depression. 1991;303:685-692.

Cohen H. Antidepressants: clinical use and litigation. In: 2nd ed. O’Donnell JT, ed. Tucson, Ariz.: Lawyers & Judges Publ.Co; 2006:379-390.

Ross G. Black Box backfire. Apr 21, 2007.

Donovan S, Clayton A, Beeharry M, et al. Deliberate self-harm and antidepressant drugs. 2000;177:551-556.

Kai zar EE, Gr eenhouse JB, Sel t man H, Kel l eher K . Do antidepressants cause suicidality in children? A Bayesian meta-analysis. 2006;3:73-98.

Berenson ML, Levine DM.. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentilee-Hall; 1998:213-217.

Healy D, Whitaker C. Antidepressants and suicide: risk-benefit conundrums. 2003;28:331-337.

Fergusson D, Doucette S, Glass KC, et al. Association between suicide attempts and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.2005;330:396-402.

Donovan S, Kelleher MJ, Lambourn J, Foster T. The occurrence of suicide following the prescription of antidepressant drugs.1999;5:181-192.

Jick SS, Dean AD, Jick H. Antidepressants and suicide.1995;310:215-218.

Wessely S, Kerwin R. Suicide risk and SSRIs. 2004;292:379-381.

Jick H, Kaye JA, Jick SS. Antidepressants and the risk of suicidal behaviors. 2004;292:338-343.

Carey B. FDA expands suicide warning on drugs. ,May 3, 2007:A17.

J Am Acad Child Psychiatry BMJPsychother PsychosomPLoS Med
BMJ

Drug Injury:Liability, Analysis and Prevention.

Wall Street Journal,Br J Psychiatry Clinical Trials

Basic Business Statistics: Concepts and Applications J Psychiatry Neuroscience

New York Times:Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009

USA Trade Name Generic Name:
SSRIs
Celexa
Luvox
Paxil
Prozac
Zoloft
non-SSRIs
Effexor
Remeron
Serzone
Wellbutrin
(UK)
citalopram
fluvoxamine
paroxetine
fluoxetine
sertraline
venlafaxine
mirtazapine
nefazodone
bupropion
dothiepin USA Trade Name Generic Name
SSRIs
Celexa
Luvox
Paxil
Prozac
Zoloft
non-SSRIs
Effexor
Remeron
Serzone
Wellbutrin
(UK)
citalopram
fluvoxamine
paroxetine
fluoxetine
sertraline
venlafaxine
mirtazapine
nefazodone
bupropion
dothiepin

Physicians Desk Reference (PDR)
Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D.
Table 1. Commonly Prescribed SSRIs and Other Antidepressants Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) Drugs:
More Risks Than Benefits?

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009 7 Physicians Desk Reference (PDR)
Joel M. Kauffman, Ph.D.
Table 1. Commonly Prescribed SSRIs and Other Antidepressants Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) Drugs:
More Risks Than Benefits?

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009 7

JAMAwhole12,69210,98313,74112,73450,15013,554

10 dead, 7 wounded: dosage increased one week before rampage
15 year old shoots two teachers, killing one: then kills himself
Columbine High School: 15 dead, 24 wounded
Four dead, twenty injured after Prozac withdrawal
Teen shoots at two students: kills his father
Jury finds Paxil was cause of murder-suicide
Man cleared of charges due to Paxil withdrawal defense
Not guilty by reason of Prozac induced insanity: mother kills daughter
Nine dead, 12 wounded in workplace shooting
11 year old hangs himself: lawsuit

Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009

3,392 total views, 4 views today

Sen. Grassley: Drug Companies “Bamboozled the FDA” on SSRI Antidepressants

Mon Nov 10, 2008

The following information should go out to every reporter and every other
human on the planet. Please. Please. Please help us get this information out to
as many as possible as a warning. [BUT in doing so always remember to warn
of the extreme potential danger of abrupt withdrawal with the FDA warning that
such can cause suicide, hostility or psychosis.

Please give them our 800 order line or website to download or order my CD, “Help! I Can’t Get Off My
Antidepressant!” so that they will have the formula for safe and almost
painless withdrawal and methods of recovery from the damage they have suffered.]
Now if you have read my book most of this will sound all too familiar and
old. But now the cold hard facts are coming out to the public with Iowa’s own
Senator Grassley leading the way because these drugs grabbed his attention
after overseeing many of the hearings on children and antidepressants. THANK
YOU

SENATOR GRASSLEY FOR YOUR EFFORTS!!!
Some of the most important points in the article to file in your memory
banks and repeat as often as possible to as many as possible are as follows:

#1 US HIGHEST USER OF ANTIDEPRESSANTS & ANTIDEPRESSANTS ARE AMERICA’S
MOST WIDELY PRESCRIBED DRUGS:

“Antidepressant prescribing is more rampant in this country than any other.
The US accounted for 66% of the global market in 2005, compared to 23% in
Europe and 11% for the rest of world, according to a December 2006 report by
Research and Markets.
“A June 2007 survey by the Centers for Disease Control of doctor and
hospital visits in 2005 showed that the most commonly prescribed drugs were
antidepressants, with 48% of the prescriptions issued by primary care
physicians. They have remained in the number one position ever since. Last year, 232
million prescriptions were filled for antidepressants worth nearly $12 billion,
according to a March 2008 report by IMS Health. . . .


#2 YET THE MANUFACTURERS KNEW AND HID THE FACT THAT THESE DRUGS INCREASE
THE RISK OF SUICIDE:

“For fifteen years, the SSRI makers fought against adding a warning about an
increased risk of suicidality, knowing all the long that the risk existed.
[We had the data in court cases for years but could not get the press to cover
it.] Now, the companies are making the irresponsible argument (in defense of
lawsuits claiming they failed to warn doctors and the public of the risk)
that the FDA did not require them to add a warning, so they are immune from
liability. . . .

#3 SINCE 1989 THE MANUFACTURER OF PAXIL KNEW THAT THIS DRUG INCREASES SUICIDE ATTEMPTS BY EIGHT TIMES MORE THAN PLACEBO!

“The report shows that Glaxo [makers of Paxil] knew in 1989, long before
Paxil was FDA approved, that people taking the drug were 8 times more likely to
engage in suicidal behavior than people given a placebo, or sugar pill. Now,
it stands to reason that even the most depressed person would decline to take
Paxil if given these facts. Also, parents certainly would decline if they
were told about the risks. . . .

“The FDA approved Paxil on December 29, 1992, with no warning to doctors or
patients of the significant increased risk of suicidal behavior,” he writes.
. . .

#4 SENATOR GRASSLEY FINDS THAT PAXIL MAKER “BAMBOOZLED” THE FDA PUTTING
PATIENT SAFETY AT RISK

“Senator Grassley has also asked the FDA to go back and review the clinical
trial data submitted on Paxil. In a statement on the Senate floor on June 11,
2008, he said: “Essentially, it looks like GlaxoSmithKline bamboozled the
FDA.”
“We cannot live in a nation where drug companies are less than candid, hide
information and attempt to mislead the FDA and the public,” he stated. “These
companies are selling drugs that we put in our bodies, not sneakers.”
“When they manipulate or withhold data to hide or minimize findings about
safety and/or efficacy they put patient safety at risk,” Senator Grassley said.
“And with drugs like Paxil, the risks are too great.”
Now I need to note here that the only reason Paxil is taking so much heat
and the only reason we have all of this inside information on Paxil is because
of the information obtained during the Wyoming murder/suicide case of Donald
Schell. Before that these companies were settling cases so that they did not
have to go to court and disclose all of this information to the attorneys
working in our behalf.
After waiting three long years for one attorney to decide if he would take
the case, it went to Andy Vickery’s office. Andy took the case and Glaxo
allowed it to go all the way into court instead of settling the case. The jury
heard and saw enough to rule that the two pills of Paxil that Donald Schell
took before getting up one morning and shooting his wife, his daughter and his
baby grand daughter before shooting himself was the main cause.
Glaxo did all they could to seal that information back up again, but it was
too late. The cat was out of the bag. And it is long past time to let the cat
out of the bag on all these other antidepressants as well!
#5 THE RESULTS OF SENATOR GRASSLEY’S INVESTIGATION OF THE LARGE PAYMENTS
AND KICKBACKS TO DOCTORS BY DRUG MAKERS

“According to Senator Grassley’s June 4, 2008 statement in the Congressional
record, although conflict-of-interest disclosure forms make it appear that
the Harvard psychiatrists only received a couple hundred thousand from drug
companies over the past 7 years, the true figures show Dr Biederman received
over “$1.6 million,” Dr Spencer “over $1 million” and Dr Wilens “over $1.6
million” in payments from the drug companies.

“Based on reports from just a handful of drug companies,” he states, “we
know that even these millions do not account for all of the money.”
“Senator Grassley also notes that Dr Schatzberg owns stock worth more than
$6 million in one drug company. Ed Silverman reports on Pharmalot that there
are “30 or so physicians at two dozen universities which the Senate Finance
Committee is probing concerning disclosure of grants from drugmakers.” The
names of those 30 doctors, along with the research mills they operate out of,
need to be made public. . . . .


#6 RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS AND ACADEMIA ON THE TAKE FROM DRUG MAKERS AS WELL
ACTING AS “APOLOGISTS FOR COMMERCIAL SCIENTIFIC FRAUD” – SENIOR ACADEMICS
PROSTITUING MEDICINE.

“It is no longer a case where Americans need only be concerned about the
amount of money the academics are pulling in. The pharmaceutical industry also
has a stronghold on most major research institutions in this country. Many
could not exist if the drug companies withdrew all their research funding, a
state of affairs that did not occur by accident.

“In fact, according to Dr Aubrey Blumsohn, who publishes the Scientific
Misconduct Blog, when all is said and done:

“The chief villains remain our academic institutions and medical leadership.
They have colluded with and have acted as apologists for commercial
scientific fraud. They have tolerated the telling of lies by senior academics.
They have encouraged the prostitution of medicine. They have allowed abuse of the
most fundamental safeguards of science. Most importantly, they have set
terrible examples for our students.”

#7 WHO TOOK THE MONEY TO PUSH ANTIDEPRESSANTS TO CHILDREN?

“. . . . While Dr Keller took the lead on pushing Paxil for children and
adolescents, Dr Emslie was the main man on the Prozac trials, and Dr Wagner was
the queen bee on Zoloft studies. The co-authors of papers that appear in the
medical literature encouraging the use of SSRI’s for kids include Drs
Biederman, Schatzberg, Wilens and, of course, Charles Nemeroff.
“Dr Nemeroff was recently forced to resign as chairman of Emory’s psychiatry
department after Senator Grassley’s investigation revealed that he failed to
disclose to his university more than a million dollars in drug industry
income. All total, Nemeroff had earnings of $2.8 million from drug companies
between 2000 and 2007, but failed to report at least $1.2 million. . . . .


#8 YET AMAZINGLY ENOUGH . . . .

“Shrinks on the take are so addicted to industry money that it’s impossible
to embarrass them. Last year, the press ran major stories when this report
came out, highly critical of how much money they were making. This year, the
average amount rose by 25%.

Now for some hard questions. . . .

*** When Glaxo knew in 1989 that Paxil was inducing suicide at a rate EIGHT
TIMES HIGHER than with a placebo and did not warn, is that not at least
negligent homicide?

Or is it not in some way contributing to a premeditated loss of life?

How often do we read in criminal cases where someone has died and someone
else did not assist that person in need but instead allowed the death to happen
and that person has then been prosecuted and given a prison term?

What is the difference here? The only difference I see is that these people
at Glaxo made a lot of money by keeping quiet and allowing these deaths to
continue!!

*** I have been asking this question for a very long time. Why is it okay
for our academic institutions to peddle drugs and use our students as guinea
pigs in studies?

Why is it okay for them to make so much money from drug companies? Much of
their operating expenses come from this drug company blood money.

Why would anyone be surprised, when seeing this close financial situation
with the drug companies and the academic institutions, that so many students
are placed on these same drugs by campus health centers often addicting them to
the drugs for many years to come?

*** How can shrinks be so stupid, or just plain “in your face” with it, as
to take even more money from these companies while they are already in the
process of being investigated for doing so???

Oh, that’s right we already know the answer to that one – they take more of
these mind altering drugs than just about anyone else! The psychiatric nurse
attending my lecture last year estimated that at least 75% of her colleagues
are on these drugs.

And why are they on these drugs? Because the drug reps are telling them all
that they are in a stressful profession and that sooner or later they are
going to be hit by the anxiety or depression that comes with the stress . . .
so they need to start on the drugs now so as to ward off “the pending
inevitable” anxiety or depression.

Of course then we need to ask the question, “How could they have fallen for
that old sales pitch?” That alone makes you wonder about their sanity!

But then you must ask if it is okay for a drug user to then be a drug pusher
even when we are discussing “legal” drugs? Because that is exactly what we
are seeing happen with this situation with antidepressants – doctors on the
drugs pushing them to others – no different than what you see in street drug
use where those hooked on the drugs are the ones pushing them to others. When
you see how similar in action these antidepressants are to LSD or PCP that
whole scenario becomes totally transparent.

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
_www.drugawareness.org_ (http://www.drugawareness.org/) &
_www.ssristories.org_ (http://www.ssristories.org/)
Author of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our
Serotonin Nightmare & the audio, Help! I Can’t
Get Off My Antidepressant!!! ()

_atracyphd1@…_ (mailto:atracyphd1@…)

_http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0811/S00080.htm_
(http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0811/S00080.htm)

Pharmaceutical Industry Hustlers – Part I
Thursday, 6 November 2008, 1:25 pm
Column: Evelyn Pringle
Pharmaceutical Industry Hustlers – Part I
SSRI Antidepressants Pushers

By _Evelyn Pringle_
(http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/print.html?path=HL0811/S00080.htm#a)
After twenty long years, it appears that the epidemic in mental disorders in
America might be coming to an end. It won’t happen because of any great
medical breakthrough but rather because the perpetrators of the greatest
healthcare fraud in history are finally being exposed. The demolition of the
giant “psycho-pharmaceutical complex” appears to be on the horizon.
For far too long, the focus has been on the drugmakers only. In recent
months, the spotlight has shown where it belongs – on the highly-paid
opportunists responsible for fueling the epidemic in prescribing of psychiatric drugs by
doctors in every field of medicine and the research institutions that enabled
the process.
The antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or
SSRI’s, such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro are at the center of
the storm. These drugs have been prescribed to more Americans than any other
class of medications over the past two decades. Cymbalta, Effexor and
Wellbutrin are often referred to as SSRI’s, but they are slightly different
chemically. However, the drugs all carry similar side effects and warnings.
The top sales pitch for SSRI’s has been the “chemical-imbalance-in-the-brain”
myth.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that depression is caused by a
biochemical imbalance,” says Dr Peter Breggin, one of the world’s leading
experts on psychiatric drugs and author of the new book, “Medication Madness.”
People take for granted pronouncements such as, “You have a biochemical
imbalance,” and “mental disorders are like diabetes,” he explains in the book.

“In reality,” Dr Breggin writes, “these are not scientific observations –
they are promotional slogans, so adamantly repeated in the media and by
individual psychiatrists that people assume them to be true.”
“The psycho-pharmaceutical complex fosters these falsehoods in order to
promote the widespread use of their products,” he says. “Reluctant patients by
the millions are pushed into taking drugs by doctors who tell them with no
uncertainty that they need medication.”

“If you have got a biochemical imbalance in your brain,” Dr Breggin advises
in the book, “the odds are overwhelming that your doctor put it there with a
psychiatric drug.”

All Eyes on Glaxo
At the moment, all eyes are on Paxil maker, GlaxoSmithKline (formerly
SmithKline Beecham), due to reports that the company is under investigation by
the US Department of Justice, as well as the Senate Finance Committee, with
Iowa’s Senator Charles Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Committee,
leading the charge.

The report that led to the investigation by Senator Grassley was generated in
litigation and was only recently made public after it was unsealed by the
court. It was submitted by Dr Joseph Glenmullen, a Clinical Instructor in
Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of “The Antidepressant
Solution”

and Prozac Backlash: Overcoming the Dangers of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, and
Other Antidepressants with Safe, Effective Alternatives.” He was retained as
an expert by the Los Angeles-based law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman.
The litigation involves several Paxil-induced suicide cases, including a 13-year-old child.

The report shows that Glaxo knew in 1989, long before Paxil was FDA approved,
that people taking the drug were 8 times more likely to engage in suicidal
behavior than people given a placebo, or sugar pill. Now, it stands to reason
that even the most depressed person would decline to take Paxil if given
these facts.

Also, parents certainly would decline if they were told about the
risks. Dr Glenmullen explains that, by submitting what he refers to as “bad” Paxil
numbers to the FDA, Glaxo was able to avoid adding a warning about suicide to
the label when the drug was approved. “GlaxoSmithKline’s ‘bad’ Paxil numbers
carried the day: The FDA approved Paxil on December 29, 1992, with no warning
to doctors or patients of the significant increased risk of suicidal behavior,” he writes.

Instead, Glaxo listed suicide and suicide attempts that took place during the
“run-in” period of the studies as if they happened in the placebo group. The
run-in period, also called the “wash-out” phase, occurs when all patients
are taken off their existing drugs to let the old drugs wash out of their
systems, and all patients are given placebos. The rationale for washing out old
drugs is to prevent them from confusing the results of the study, so that
patients start out in a similar condition, according to the report.
The official trial only begins after the wash-out phase, once the patients
are assigned to receive either the antidepressant or a placebo. The patients
who continue to receive the placebo are referred to as the placebo group.

“Confusing the pre-study placebo wash-out phase with the placebo group in the
actual study is improper,” Dr Glenmullen writes, “especially when the
concern is a potentially lethal side effect.”

The “correct data shows that suicide attempts in patients on Paxil occurred
at a rate eight times higher than the rate in patients on placebo,” he notes.
Senator Grassley has also asked the FDA to go back and review the clinical
trial data submitted on Paxil. In a statement on the Senate floor on June 11,
2008, he said: “Essentially, it looks like GlaxoSmithKline bamboozled the
FDA.”

“We cannot live in a nation where drug companies are less than candid, hide
information and attempt to mislead the FDA and the public,” he stated. “These
companies are selling drugs that we put in our bodies, not sneakers.”
“When they manipulate or withhold data to hide or minimize findings about
safety and/or efficacy they put patient safety at risk,” Senator Grassley said.
“And with drugs like Paxil, the risks are too great.”

A good start as the Glaxo scandal unravels, the public will learn that other
antidepressant makers such as Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Wyeth and Forest Laboratories
are equally guilty. Likewise, there are many more supposedly independent academic
doctors who have been receiving substantial financial benefits from drug
companies than are currently identified in the media as being under investigation.

Exposing Harvard University’s Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer, Timothy
Wilens, Stanford’s Alan Schatzberg, Brown University’s Martin Keller, Melissa
DelBello at the University of Cincinnati, and Drs Karen Wagner and John Rush,
who operated out of the University of Texas, might be a good place to start, but
the trail of Big Pharma’s funding academic research for marketing
purposes certainly does not end with a handful of psychiatrists.

According to Senator Grassley’s June 4, 2008 statement in the Congressional
record, although conflict-of-interest disclosure forms make it appear that the
Harvard psychiatrists only received a couple hundred thousand from drug
companies over the past 7 years, the true figures show Dr Biederman received
over “$1.6 million,” Dr Spencer “over $1 million” and Dr Wilens “over $1.6
million” in payments from the drug companies.

“Based on reports from just a handful of drug companies,” he states, “we know
that even these millions do not account for all of the money.”
Senator Grassley also notes that Dr Schatzberg owns stock worth more than $6
million in one drug company. Ed Silverman reports on Pharmalot that there are
“30 or so physicians at two dozen universities which the Senate Finance
Committee is probing concerning disclosure of grants from drugmakers.” The names
of those 30 doctors, along with the research mills they operate out of, need
to be made public.

The new book, “Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a
Best-selling Antidepressant on Trial,” by investigative journalist Alison Bass,
provides the inside scoop on the fraudulent SSRI research conducted at Brown
University by Dr Keller.

The book also supplies background information on the financial ties between
the so-called “opinion leaders” in psychiatry and the other antidepressant
makers. For instance, Ms Bass explains that Drs Schatzberg and Keller worked as
a team a decade ago to promote Bristol-Myers Squibb’s antidepressant Serzone.

In 1998, Dr Schatzberg was paid to moderate an industry-sponsored symposium
that touted the benefits of Serzone, and Dr Keller was one of the paid
speakers at the event. The same year, Dr Keller received $77,400 in consulting
fees from Bristol-Myers, Ms Bass points out.

Dr Keller later published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine also
touting the benefits of Serzone. The drug was removed from the market in
2004 after it was found to cause liver damage but not before a number of
patients died.

Ms Bass reports that Keller did not report any income from Glaxo on his 1998
tax return. But during her research for “Side Effects,” she discovered he had
earned personal income from Glaxo in 1998, as well as subsequent years.
Keller admitted as much during a September 2006 deposition for a lawsuit filed
against Glaxo, she says.

It is no longer a case where Americans need only be concerned about the
amount of money the academics are pulling in. The pharmaceutical industry also
has a stronghold on most major research institutions in this country. Many could
not exist if the drug companies withdrew all their research funding, a state
of affairs that did not occur by accident.

In fact, according to Dr Aubrey Blumsohn, who publishes the Scientific
Misconduct Blog, when all is said and done:

“The chief villains remain our academic institutions and medical leadership.
They have colluded with and have acted as apologists for commercial
scientific fraud. They have tolerated the telling of lies by senior academics.
They have encouraged the prostitution of medicine. They have allowed abuse of the
most fundamental safeguards of science. Most importantly, they have set
terrible examples for our students.”


U
niversities keep corrupt academics on board for good reason. “Side Effects”
reports that, between 1990 and 1998, “Martin Keller brought in nearly $8.7
million in research funding from pharmaceutical companies.”
The clinical trial industry itself provides a perfect slush fund. Spending in
the U.S. was an estimated $25 billion in 2006 and is expected to reach about
$32 billion by 2011.

Most of the money for trials comes from private
industry, and federal funding assumes a second place position, with the
National Institute of Health budgeting $3 billion for clinical trials in 2006, according
to the paper, “State Medical Board Responses To An Inquiry On Physician
Researcher Misconduct,” by Dr Stefan Kruszewski, Dr Richard Paczynski and
Marzana Bialy, in the Journal of Medical Licensure and Discipline 2008: Vol 94 No 1.
Paxil Study 329 “Side Effects” also covers the whole sordid affair on Paxil Study 329, the
most infamous fraudulent pediatric trial of all time. The study “offers a
landmark for the point at which science turned into marketing,” according to Dr
David Healy.

Dr Healy is a Professor of psychiatry and Director of the North Wales School
of Psychological Medicine at the University of Wales, and an outspoken critic
of the psycho-pharmaceutical complex, with 21 books to his name, including
“The Creation of Psychopharmacology.”

He explains that, in 1998, Glaxo’s original assessment of Study 329 had
concluded that it and another study had shown Paxil did not work for children,
but that it would not be “commercially acceptable” to publicize this finding.
“Instead the positive findings from the study would be published; they were in
an article whose authorship line contains some of the best known names in
psychopharmacology (Keller et al., 2001),” Dr Healy writes in the 2007 paper,
“The Engineers of Human Souls & Academia.”

Dr Keller gets most of the credit for the study, which was completed in
the mid-90’s. Keller et al had some difficulty getting it published at first,
but finally found a journal willing to take the bate in 2001, the Journal of
the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In all, 20 academics
allowed their names to be attached to this ghostwritten infomercial, and not
one has stepped forward to acknowledge wrongdoing or to admit that a mistake
was made.

Long before the paper was published, the authors of study 329 were fanned out
all the way to Canada giving lectures and presentations to prescribing
doctors at medical conferences and seminars to promote the off-label use of
Paxil for kids. More than any other paper, Study 329 led to an epidemic in
pediatric prescribing. “After its publication, the use of antidepressants for
children skyrocketed,” Dr Glenmullen notes.

These handsomely paid key opinion leaders all deserve to have their names
in lights, especially Drs Graham Emslie and Karen Wagner from the University
of Texas.

Between 2000 through 2005, Glaxo paid Dr Wagner $160,404, but the only
payment she reported to the university was $600 in 2005, according to Senator
Grassley. Dr Wagner also failed to disclose earnings of more than $11,000 from
Prozac-maker Eli Lilly in 2002.

On August 18, 2008, the Dallas Morning News reported that a state mental
health plan naming the preferred psychiatric drugs for children has been quietly
put on hold over fears drug companies may have given researchers consulting
contracts, speakers fees or other perks to help get their products on the
list.

The Children’s Medication Algorithm Project, or CMAP, was supposed to
determine which psychiatric drugs were most effective for children and in what
order they should be tried at state-funded mental health centers, the Morning
News explains.

The academics who developed the CMAP include Drs Wagner and Emslie. Records
show Dr Emslie may have made up to $125,000 from drug companies since
2004, according to the report in the Morning News. While Dr Keller took the lead on
pushing Paxil for children and adolescents,Dr Emslie was the main man on the Prozac
trials, and Dr Wagner was the queen bee on Zoloft studies.

The co-authors of papers that appear in the medical
literature encouraging the use of SSRI’s for kids include Drs Biederman,
Schatzberg, Wilens and, of course, Charles Nemeroff.
Dr Nemeroff was recently forced to resign as chairman of Emory’s psychiatry
department after Senator Grassley’s investigation revealed that he failed to
disclose to his university more than a million dollars in drug industry
income. All total, Nemeroff had earnings of $2.8 million from drug companies
between 2000 and 2007, but failed to report at least $1.2 million.

A complete list of academics who should to be investigated can be found among
the authors of the SSRI papers and studies highlighted in the 2006 Third
Edition of, “Essentials of Clinical Psychopharmacology,” described as “a
synopsis and update of the most clinically relevant material from ‘The American
Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Psychopharmacology,'” by none other than Drs
Schatzberg and Nemeroff.

Keep Following the Money
On July 10, 2008, Senator Grassley extended his investigation to include
psychiatry’s top industry-funded front group with a letter to Dr James Scully,
Medical Director and Chief Executive Officer of the American Psychiatric
Association, asking for “an accounting of industry funding that pharmaceutical
companies and/or the foundations established by these companies have provided to
the American Psychiatric Association.”

The Senator wants records from January 2003 to the present. According to the
July 12, 2008, New York Times, in 2006, the “industry accounted for about 30
percent of the association’s $62.5 million in financing.”
A factor rarely discussed in this debate is the amount of money doctors who
prescribe SSRI’s make during brief office calls charged at regular rates. This
practice has taken a tremendous toll on public healthcare programs and has
resulted in higher insurance premiums and overall healthcare costs for all
Americans.

In fact, the bilking of public healthcare programs is what led to the current
investigations by the Finance Committee, which has the responsibility of
overseeing spending in Federal programs. When doctors prescribe drugs for
unnecessary uses, public programs not only have to pay for the drugs, they must
also pay the fees of the prescribing doctors and for the medical care for
injuries caused by the drugs. Government spending tied to the prescribing of
psychiatric drugs has gone through the roof in the past decade.

While testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government
Reform on February 9, 2007, Lewis Morris, Chief Counsel at the Department of
Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, discussed kickbacks to
doctors and told the panel:

“Kickbacks potentially increase the costs to Federal programs because they
encourage overutilization and may encourage the prescribing of more expensive
drugs when clinically appropriate and cheaper options (such as generic drugs)
may be equally effective.”

Mr Morris explained that, “kickbacks offered to prescribing physicians by
pharmaceutical manufacturers take a variety of forms, ranging from free samples
for which the physician bills the programs to all-expense-paid trips and sham
consulting agreements.”

Vermont is a rare state in requiring the pharmaceutical industry to disclose
the money paid to doctors. On July 8, 2008, Vermont’s Attorney General
William Sorrell released the state’s annual report on “Pharmaceutical Marketing
Disclosures,” which lists the payments made by drug companies in 2007. Of the
top 100 recipients, once again, psychiatrists received the highest payments.
Eleven psychiatrists received a total of $626,379, or about 20% of the total
value of payments made, according to the report.

Shrinks on the take are so addicted to industry money that it’s impossible to
embarrass them. Last year, the press ran major stories when this report came
out, highly critical of how much money they were making. This year, the
average amount rose by 25%.

The report also analyzes the payments based upon the drugs being marketed. Of
the top 10 drugs for which disclosures were reported, five are used to treat
mental illness and include Lilly’s Cymbalta and Forest Lab’s Lexapro.
Ironically, Cymbalta sales are also up 25%, according to Lilly’s latest SEC
filing.

Overall, estimates indicate that the drug industry spends $19 billion
annually on marketing to physicians in the form of gifts, travel, meals and
other consulting fees, according to a May 22, 2008, press release by Senator
Grassley’s office. In the November 1, 2007, New England Journal of Medicine
paper, “Doctors and Drug Companies Scrutinizing Influential Relationships,” Dr
Eric Campell, associate professor at the Institute of Health Policy at
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, writes:

“Individual physicians can take some steps to maximize the benefits for
patients and minimize the risks associated with their own industry
relationships. They can start by recognizing that such relationships are designed to
influence prescribing behavior and by carefully considering the potential
effects that their own associations may have on their patients.”

“And they can bear in mind,” he says, “that the costs of industry dinners,
trips, and other incentives are passed along to their patients in the form of
higher drug prices.” Antidepressant prescribing is more rampant in this country than any other.
The US accounted for 66% of the global market in 2005, compared to 23% in
Europe and 11% for the rest of world, according to a December 2006 report by
Research and Markets.

A June 2007 survey by the Centers for Disease Control of doctor and hospital
visits in 2005 showed that the most commonly prescribed drugs were
antidepressants, with 48% of the prescriptions issued by primary care
physicians. They have remained in the number one position ever since. Last year, 232 million
prescriptions were filled for antidepressants worth nearly $12 billion,
according to a March 2008 report by IMS Health.

The top dogs in the pharmaceutical industry are literally laughing all the
way to the bank. For example, in 2007, Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler’s pay package
was worth $9.5 million, according to the March 14, 2008, Wall Street Journal. A
previous CEO, David Shedlarz, left last year with an “exit package” worth
over $34 million. In 2007, the total value of Wyeth’s then-CEO Robert Essner’s
pay package was $24.1 million, the Journal reports.

In the meantime, state Medicaid programs are going bankrupt as a result of
the mental illness epidemic occurring only in the US. Attorneys General all
over the country are using consumer fraud statutes to sue the drug giants to
recoup the money lost due to the illegal off-label promotion of psychiatric
drugs and the concealment of their side effects.

For instance, Baum Hedlund has been litigating Private Attorney General
consumer fraud class-action lawsuits against Glaxo since 2004, on behalf of
individuals and entities such as insurance companies in California, Florida,
Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio and
Washington.

The cases are based on documents showing Glaxo promoted Paxil for kids, fully
aware that Paxil failed to out-perform a placebo in the clinical trials and
had higher suicidality rates. A national class settlement of individual
claims was reached in April 2007 in which Glaxo agreed to reimburse parents for
all of the money paid for Paxil prescriptions for their children. A national
class settlement on behalf of third party payors (insurance companies) was just
approved in September 2008.

If not for the few law firms willing to stay the course, the truth would
never have been revealed. Baum Hedlund has been pursuing the SSRI makers for
nearly two decades. Most recently, it has taken up the fight for babies born
with birth defects caused by SSRI’s.

Because the industry was so successful at keeping the original SSRI trial
data hidden, the drugs most serious side effects largely became public only
as a result of the bravery and integrity of such medical experts as Dr Healy, Dr
Glenmullen and Dr Breggin, who could not be bought and could not be bullied.

For fifteen years, the SSRI makers fought against adding a warning about an
increased risk of suicidality, knowing all the long that the risk existed.
Now, the companies are making the irresponsible argument (in defense of
lawsuits claiming they failed to warn doctors and the public of the risk) that the
FDA did not require them to add a warning, so they are immune from liability.
Worse yet, the industry-controlled FDA under the Bush Administration is
supporting this audacious preemption defense and siding with the SSRI makers
against private citizens in courts all over the country, telling judges to rule
in favor of the drug companies and throw out the SSRI cases before they even
make it to a jury.

Although not an SSRI case, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case
involving federal preemption, in Wyeth v Levine, on November 3, 2008.
*************
Evelyn Pringle
epringle05@…
(Written as part of the Paxil Litigation Round-Up, Sponsored by Baum,
Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman’s Pharmaceutical Litigation Department
_www.baumhedlundlaw.com_ (http://www.baumhedlundlaw.com/) )


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