2/24/2001 – Wall Street Journal Questions PMDD & Sarafem (Prozac)

Here comes the crowd!! Now that Lilly has their approval by the FDA to use
Prozac for PMS (PMDD), all the other makers of SSRIs are racing to get their
drugs approved to get their share of the profits. If this was not such a
horrifying situation with so many dying such terrible deaths everyday, many
more becoming so disabled from these drugs, and so many families being torn
apart from the behavioral reactions, it would almost be funny.

What is most ironic is that the psychologist mentioned at the end of the
article is right. I see women with severe PMS who mix some purified water
with lemon juice and drink a gallon a day for the week before their period
and any sign of PMS leaves. There are so many simple alternative choices for
this that it is amazing that Lilly has convinced so many that they have the
answer in a drug! Even more amazing is that they convinced the FDA – but then
the FDA is always amazing me with what they allow the public to be exposed to
as “safe”!

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

Wall Street Journal, Section B, Front Page

February 23, 2001, Health Journal

Drug Firms Treat PMS As a Mental Disorder

By TARA PARKER-POPE
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

IS SEVERE PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, a mental illness? Some
pharmaceutical companies and psychiatrists are treating it as one. In new
television ads, drug maker Eli Lilly is promoting the drug Sarafem to treat
the
problem, now dubbed Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). But the
pink and purple pills aren’t a new drug — they are simply repackaged
Prozac,
the popular antidepressant.

Makers of similar antidepressants, known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors,
or
SSRIs, also may follow suit. In January, Pfizer asked the FDA to approve
Zoloft to treat PMDD. Forest Laboratories’ Celexa and GlaxoSmithKline’s
Paxil also have been studied.

The medical community, however, remains divided about whether PMDD is a
real disorder or simply a way for drug companies to cast a wider net in
search
of new customers. Critics are particularly concerned about labeling women
as
mentally ill because of problems associated with menstrual cycles.

“When you start calling what PMS is a psychiatric disorder, what are you
saying about the women of this world?” says Nada Stotland, director of
psychiatric education at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in
Chicago. “This lends itself to prejudices people already have about women
being moody and unreliable.”

ALTHOUGH THE FDA has approved Sarafem to treat PMDD, the
psychiatric community is still debating the legitimacy of the disorder. The
American Psychiatric Association includes PMDD in the appendix of its
current
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the part of the
manual
reserved for issues needing further research before being officially
accepted as a mental illness.

Fueling skepticism about PMDD and Sarafem is the
fact that in August, Lilly, based in Indianapolis, loses
patent protection on Prozac, a drug with $2.6 billion
in sales last year, according to IMS Health. With
Sarafem, the firm now has a separate patent to use
the drug for PMDD through 2007, allowing it to
partially offset losses in sales as rivals produce
generic Prozac.

Repacking prescription drugs for other uses is
becoming more common. Glaxo, for example, has
repackaged its antidepressant Wellbutrin as the
stop-smoking aid Zyban.

Many physicians argue that PMDD is a legitimate mental illness triggered by
normal hormonal fluctuations in a woman’s menstrual cycle. About 3% to 5%
of
menstruating women are affected. “This is a subset of women who have
really,
really severe mood changes and changes in their behavior,” says Jean
Endicott,
professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University’s College of
Physicians
and Surgeons. “It can be very debilitating.”

Unlike other mental illnesses that affect a patient on a daily basis, PMDD
is said
to affect women during the week to two weeks before their period. The
symptoms include depression, anxiety, tension, anger, irritability and the
feeling
of being overwhelmed or out of control. Other symptoms also are typical of
traditional PMS, such as breast tenderness, headache, bloating and weight
gain.

In order to be diagnosed with PMDD, a patient must have at least five
symptoms, including one involving mood change, and be markedly impaired as
a result. Patients should track symptoms for two months before a diagnosis
is
made.

About 60% of women who take Sarafem for PMDD will be helped, according
to Dr. Endicott. Currently, the drug is taken every day, but researchers
are
studying dosing that would reduce the pills to several days a month,
limiting side
effects, which can include tiredness, upset stomach, nervousness, dizziness
and
difficulty concentrating.

A 38-YEAR-OLD Chicago flight attendant named Betsy, who didn’t want her
full name used, says the week before her period she felt like an
“over-wound
spring, getting wound tighter and tighter,” and would often scream and lose
control. “That’s not my normal disposition,” she says. “I knew something
wasn’t
right.”

She noticed the correlation with her menstrual cycle and discussed her
problems with her gynecologist, who prescribed Sarafem. “It has completely
taken away the symptoms,” she says.

Dr. Stotland and other critics, however, worry that eager patients may push
to
be prescribed Sarafem as a quick fix, preventing doctors from diagnosing
other
serious health problems. Dr. Stotland says research has shown that more
than
half of the women who believe they have severe PMS actually suffer from
other
problems, such as depression, panic disorder or even domestic violence.

Lilly’s marketing of Sarafem also has sparked controversy. The first ads
showed a frustrated woman wrestling with a shopping cart. “Think it’s PMS?
It
could be PMDD,” the ads said. But the FDA said the ads trivialized the
seriousness of PMDD, and the campaign was pulled. New ads show one
woman arguing with her husband and another frustrated because she can’t
button her pants.

Lilly spokeswoman Laura Miller says the ads attempt to show the full gamut
of
PMDD symptoms. “It’s up to the doctor and the woman to determine whether
she has PMDD and whether treatment is appropriate,” she says.

But Paula Caplan, a psychologist and affiliated scholar at Brown
University’s
Pembroke Center for Research and Teaching on Women, says instead of
labeling women as mentally ill, physicians should urge diet changes,
exercise,
less caffeine and even calcium supplements. “But nobody makes much money
off calcium tablets,” she adds.

E-mail comments to Tara Parker-Pope at healthjournal@…

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02/20/2001 – Drug Trials – Give us your children!

This situation is only getting worse and fast! This incredible article by the
Boston Globe shows us the dangerous potential in using our babies as guinea
pigs. As I said in my article “Our Next Generation of Medical Guinea Pigs –
Our Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil Babies,” warning of this and written two years
ago, “If witnessing our children suffer like this is not enough to wake us up
to this nightmare, I DO NOT WANT TO SEE WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO WAKE US UP!!!!”

This time I made sure to include a link so that if the article is cut off,
you can go to the original Boston Globe site and finish reading it. Please
share this with your family and friends.

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

http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/049/nation/Dangerous_dosageP.shtml

Dangerous dosage

To make pediatric medicine safer, thousands of children are being used to
test drugs originally designed for adults. Tragically, the side effects can
sometimes prove deadly

By Alice Dembner, Globe Staff, 2/18/2001

First in a series of occasional articles on medical trials involving children.

Gage Stevens might have taken his first steps that bleak morning in November
1999. And by his first birthday, he would probably have outgrown his one
persistent ailment – acid reflux. Instead, he lay in the Allegheny County,
Pa., morgue.

His mother, Gretchen Stewart, had taken him to a specialist at Children’s
Hospital of Pittsburgh the spring before he died, seeking to ease the baby’s
crying as the acid irritated his esophagus. Dr. Susan Orenstein recommended
Gage enter a study she was running to find ”the safest, most effective
treatment for esophagitis in infants” using the ”best available”
medications, according to the consent form Stewart signed.

But the experimental treatment triggered a heart rhythm disturbance that
killed the 9-month-old, the coroner found. By that time, the key drug,
Propulsid, had also been linked to many adult deaths.

”They told me they were just trying to see how effective it was. Had I known
it was a dangerous drug, I would never have let him take it. Who in their
right mind would?” said Stewart of Homestead, Pa., who has filed a wrongful
death suit against the doctor, the hospital, and the drug’s maker, Janssen
Pharmaceutica.

Medical experiments across the country appear to have killed at least eight
children and subjected hundreds more to harmful side effects in the last
seven years, according to an investigation by The Boston Globe. These
tragedies, ethicists suggest, are a harbinger of troubles ahead as a federal
push to test more medicines in children kicks into high gear this year.

An estimated 45,000 children are participating in industry-sponsored testing
of new drugs, up from about 16,000 in 1997, according to Christopher-Paul
Milne, senior research fellow at the Tufts University Center for the Study of
Drug Development. ”Although researchers are looking pretty hard at the
ethical issues, there’s greater risk if you increase the number of children
being studied,” he said.

The rush to experiment on children has been triggered by federal initiatives
intended to improve the safety of drugs for children. Three-quarters of the
medicines used in children have never been fully tested for safety and
effectiveness in them, including heavily prescribed drugs such as the asthma
medication Albuterol. And children have been hurt when doctors lacking that
information prescribed inappropriate doses of drugs marketed for adults.

In response to appeals from pediatricians, since late 1997, Congress has
offered drug companies a lucrative six-month extension of patents on drugs
already on the market if they test them on children. Also, as of last
December, Food and Drug Administration policy requires that any new drugs be
tested on children as well as adults.

Drug companies are already pouring an estimated $1 billion a year into
pediatric testing, according to CenterWatch of Boston, which tracks the
industry. The additional sales of a single blockbuster drug during an extra
six months without competition from cheaper generics could offset that entire
investment.

The increase in pediatric research, which builds on a longer tradition of
testing children in cancer and AIDS research, has brought some benefits.
Since 1997, 14 drugs have been newly labeled with instructions for use in
children as a result of the push, while studies on dozens more have been
completed and are awaiting review by the FDA. Many of the tests are safe and
ethical.

But an examination of research in children since 1994 shows that the potent
combination of vulnerable children, ambitious researchers, potential profits,
and weak oversight can hold great peril for those children. From deadly
infections in Memphis to a troubling misdiagnosis in Arkansas, children have
suffered in the name of science.

In the case of Propulsid, the manufacturer, the doctor, and Children’s
Hospital deny that the drug caused Gage’s death.

”We believe it’s not possible to establish a direct causal relationship with
the administration of the drug. We learned that the infant had been brought
to the ER several days prior [to his death] with serious respiratory
illness,” said Janssen spokesman Greg Panico.

However, county coroner Cyril Wecht is convinced that a reaction to the drug
– not a respiratory problem – killed the child. Although autopsy can never
prove arrhythmia, he said he ruled out all other possible causes.

”We’re satisfied that … we are not acting prematurely, unwisely, unfairly,
or unscientifically,” said Wecht, who is also a nationally known commentator
on high-profile cases.

Moreover, Propulsid was linked to potentially dangerous heart rhythm problems
even before it was approved for adult use in 1993. By 1997, as doctors
increasingly used their discretion to prescribe Propulsid to children despite
the lack of federal approval, the FDA stepped in. Armed with reports of
cardiac deaths of three young children taking Propulsid, regulators suggested
that Janssen test the drug in children or provide a stronger warning label.

Janssen provided the warning label but held off on its own large trials,
instead providing the drug free to researchers, including Dr. Orenstein in
Pittsburgh. Orenstein enrolled about 100 children in her study, which
compared Propulsid given with and without another drug, Tagamet, against a
placebo.

Neither Orenstein nor her lawyer responded to requests for interviews and
hospital officials declined to explain why the study was conducted in a way
that seemed contrary to the FDA warning that Tagamet might increase
Propulsid’s heart risk.

In the months after Gage’s death, the FDA received reports of more than 100
cardiac deaths in people taking Propulsid, including 19 children whose
doctors had prescribed it. Janssen pulled it from the market last July.

”The country is still learning how to study children ethically,” said
Robert Ward, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on
Drugs, stressing that he could not comment directly on the Propulsid case.

Cancer centers have been at the forefront of clinical testing in children,
with long-standing research programs for all forms of the disease. But even
they may not set the best example, despite good intentions.

Three children died of complications in an experiment at the internationally
known St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis in 1998 and 1999, as
researchers tried to improve the five-year ”cure rate” for acute
lymphoblastic leukemia, normally one of the most treatable forms of the blood
cancer.

The children, whom the hospital declined to identify, died of infections or
seizures apparently caused by the first phase of the multifaceted drug and
radiation experiment, according to Dr. William Evans, the hospital’s
executive vice president. The death rate in the first phase of the trial,
three of 53 children, was double the usual rate.

Inspectors with the federal research protection office, acting on a
complaint, faulted the hospital for failing to report the deaths promptly
both to the government and to the hospital’s ethical review board, so they
could decide if other children’s lives were at risk.

An independent review, required by the government, later concluded that the
hospital did not unjustifiably delay reporting the deaths and tried to adjust
the experiment to make it safer. Nonetheless, with the deaths still
unexplained, the hospital abandoned the study and agreed to hire an ombudsman
for patients in future studies.

”We have since modified the treatment and had no problems,” said the lead
researcher, Dr. Ching-Hon Pui, who declined to talk in detail about what
happened, saying, ”I still feel bad and I don’t want to refresh my memory.”

Even when cancer researchers know that an experiment may increase the child’s
risk of death, it’s not clear that they always fully inform the children or
their parents.

Two children died suddenly and two more suffered life-threatening infections
in the first phase of a leukemia experiment conducted in 2000 – nine years
after researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston warned of an
unusually high rate of death and infection in similar chemotherapy.

Among the first 32 children enrolled in the Pediatric Oncology Group study at
sites across the United States, Canada, and Europe, a 10-year-old girl died
from a fungal infection and a 5-year-old girl succumbed to a septic
infection. In addition, a 12-year-old went into shock and a 19-month-old
suffered a brain inflammation, according to a study report.

Researchers at Dana-Farber had warned about just such a tragedy from using
the same drug, dexamethasone, in a four-drug combination during the first
stage of treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. ”The toxicity
associated with dexamethasone used during induction therapy outweighed its
potential benefits,” the Dana-Farber researchers wrote in the journal Cancer
last April, spelling out their earlier warning.

But doctors at the Pediatric Oncology Group, with the approval of the
National Cancer Institute, believed that a change in an antibiotic prescribed
along with dexamethasone would prevent a recurrence of the toxic reactions in
Boston.

Looking back, Dr. William Bowman, the study chairman, said he wasn’t sure
whether the children and their parents were told of the specific risk
suggested by the Boston study. They were warned, he said, about the usual
risk of death during the induction phase for this type of leukemia – about 2
percent. In this case, the death rate was three times higher.

Ultimately, the Pediatric Oncology Group substituted another drug for the
dexamethasone in the first phase. ”We didn’t want to take the risk any
longer,” Bowman said.

Today, other researchers are reluctant to criticize Bowman’s team, since
dexamethasone shows such promise against cancer. ”Part of our task is to
fine-tune how we use these drugs in an attempt to improve outcomes. Sometimes
very small changes have adverse outcomes and sometimes they have positive
outcomes,” said Dr. Stephen E. Sallan, chief of staff at Dana-Farber.

But Boston University medical ethicist Leonard Glantz said the doctors should
have spelled out the risks and alternatives for the parents. ”Certainly
parents should be told when you have a responsible medical authority who
thinks the risks of a particular regime are especially high. It appears there
were some alternatives that reasonable scientists would argue were less risky
for the children.”

There is strong reason to believe that deaths and injuries in research
involving children are more widespread than what is reported to government
offices that handle complaints. For one thing, parents of children with
serious diseases often see drug trials as their best option and are less
likely to complain later if something goes wrong. In addition, many parents
erroneously believe signing a consent form detailing the risks of the
experiment means giving up their right to a remedy.

”They think if something negative happened, `Well, I accepted it and I have
nothing to complain about,”’ said Abbey Meyers, president of the National
Organization for Rare Disorders, a patient advocacy group.

Adding to the difficulty of assessing the scope of research injuries, neither
drug companies nor the FDA typically release information about problems in
drug trials, unless the drug is approved. And even after approval, the FDA
drags its feet in releasing details of the trials. Moreover, there is no
national effort to track the testing of children or any central review of the
reports of side effects.

”It’s likely we wouldn’t be aware of it unless a patient or their parents
brought it to public attention or there was an investigation by [the US
Department of] Health and Human Services. Things could happen very easily and
no one would know about it,” said Dr. Ralph E. Kauffman, director of
research at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., and a leader of
the movement to test drugs in children.

Kauffman, like many researchers, believes that the new testing program is
much safer than the current system in which doctors prescribe drugs without
knowing their effects. ”The risk to a child in a well-run clinical study is
much less than the risk of a child receiving that drug in a doctor’s office
without specific information on dosing,” he said.

For instance, the antibiotic chloramphenicol was widely used for infections
in premature infants until a study in 1959 discovered that babies were unable
to metabolize the drug and it was killing them. The drug had only been
approved for use in adults for infections resistant to penicillin.

Such problems led the American Academy of Pediatrics to campaign for testing
of drugs in children in the late 1970s. But drug companies resisted, citing
the difficulties of finding qualified researchers and parents willing to
volunteer their children as well as the legal liabilities. While a few
companies pursued the pediatric drug market, many saw no financial reason to
do so since drugs approved for adults could be legally prescribed to children.

But an act of Congress in 1997, giving companies financial incentives to test
drugs in children, has led to a flood of testing. Milne, of Tufts, estimates
600 industry-funded studies are underway, double the number in 1997.

The initiative has spurred the creation of a testing infrastructure,
including government-supported centers around the country. In New England,
Yale University houses one center, where 10 studies are ongoing. New England
is also home to two other big players in the private sector – Parexel
International of Waltham, a contract research organization that recently
established a pediatric division, and Kelson Pediatric Partners of Hartford,
which says it has developed a network of pediatric researchers with access to
a pool of 120,000 children. Boston’s academic medical centers have seen a
small increase in testing.

So far, there are no indications of abuses of the magnitude of those at the
Fernald State School in Waltham during the 1940s and 1950s when retarded
children were given radiation-spiked cereal in a test sponsored by MIT and
Quaker Oats.

But there are plenty of troubling examples of research that demonstrate weak
oversight of the burgeoning wave of studies.

In the case of Propulsid, the FDA finally took Dr. Orenstein to task for
numerous failings in her study. But its review came five months after Gage
Stevens died.

FDA investigators found she failed to report to her hospital review board a
number of earlier problems resulting from the drugs, including the case of a
baby who had to be hospitalized when he briefly stopped breathing.

In addition, the FDA noted egregious errors in the consent form that the
Stevens family signed, including the incorrect claim that Propulsid had been
approved for use in children and a failure to spell out known risks.

Stewart and her husband, Scott Stevens, filed a wrongful death suit last
September that also accuses

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02/15/2001 – Doctors Say Drug Trial's Approval was Backdated

Pfizer, makers of Zoloft and Viagra cannot seem to stay out of trouble
lately. This is one of several messes they have found themselves caught in
around the world lately. I thought all of you who barely survived your bouts
with Zoloft would be interested.

Not that Pfizer is the only drug company out there doing this type of thing.
They just got caught. I have learned over the last decade of doing research
on these issues that most drug companies would not blink an eye in deciding
to do the same. They are so often caught in such underhanded dealings that I
wonder why they are allowed to continue business.

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

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A63515-2001Jan15.html

Doctors Say Drug Trial’s Approval was Backdated

THW WASHINGTON POST

By Joe Stephens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 16, 2001; Page A01

The Nigerian doctor who supervised a 1996 Pfizer Inc. drug experiment on
desperately ill children said in an interview that his office created a
backdated ethics approval document that the American pharmaceutical company
later used to satisfy U.S. regulators and to justify its conduct of the
human testing.

Abdulhamid Isa Dutse, the physician who oversaw the test of the antibiotic
Trovan on children with meningitis, said the letter may have been written as
long as a year after the test was completed when Pfizer officials asked him
for proof the test was reviewed by a Nigerian ethics board. Nigerian
officials are now examining the roles played by Dutse and others in
conducting the American company’s drug trial, which was the subject of an
investigation by The Washington Post.

Pfizer spokesman Andy McCormick said last week that he was unaware of
possible irregularities in the Nigerian ethics approval document. “We are
currently investigating it. We are cooperating with the authorities in
Nigeria,” he said.

The New York-based company gave the letter to the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration in 1997 during an audit of records supporting its application
to use Trovan for treatment of children during a meningitis epidemic. U.S.
regulations require that if a company intends to use foreign medical
research to support a drug application, the experiments must be reviewed and
formally approved in advance by an ethics committee.

FDA officials last week declined to comment on the Pfizer case, but one
official said it is a violation of federal law to knowingly submit false
documents to a government regulatory agency.

Typed on the letterhead of the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and dated March
28, 1996 — six days before Pfizer’s experiment began — the letter said the
hospital ethics committee had reviewed the plan to test Trovan on 100
children with meningitis and found the protocol to be “adequate.” The letter
gave permission for the test to proceed.

But Sadiq S. Wali, the hospital’s medical director, recently told The
Washington Post the document was “a lie.” He said the hospital had no ethics
committee at the time Pfizer’s test was underway and did not organize it —
or create the letterhead stationery bearing his name that was used in the
approval letter — until months later.

“The hospital is quite clear: We had no ethical committee,” he said in a
telephone interview.

Reached by telephone in Kano last week, Dutse said it was “possible” that
the approval letter was drafted up to a year after the trial.

Dutse, who was listed as Pfizer’s “principal investigator,” said he felt
that the letter reflected the informal approval he had obtained from three
doctors, who reviewed Pfizer’s test plans and told him they saw no ethical
problems. No records were prepared at the time, he said.

But one of the doctors Dutse cited, Idris Mohammed, last week disputed
Dutse’s account. Reached in London, Mohammed said: “There was no ethical
committee at the time of the trial, none met, and no approval was properly
given for the trial.”

In fact, Mohammed said that he challenged the legality of Pfizer’s
experiment while it was underway and that he demanded unsuccessfully to see
documents proving it had been properly authorized.

“You shouldn’t try an experiment in an epidemic,” said Mohammed, a medical
professor who now heads the Nigerian federal immunization program. “You
needed to give these patients something that was proven.”

Mohammed said that in 1996 he took his concerns to a senior official in the
Nigerian government — then controlled by a military dictator, Gen. Sani
Abacha — but was overruled.

Since the experiment, Pfizer repeatedly has cited the Nigerian committee’s
approval as proof its experiment was ethical. The testing was carried out on
children and infants during a record-breaking meningitis epidemic that
killed more than 15,000 Africans.

The Post’s Dec. 17 article recounted how Pfizer physicians tested the
company’s then-unapproved antibiotic in the impoverished northern Nigerian
state of Kano. The drug was later associated with liver damage and deaths in
the United States and its use was restricted.

Pfizer described the Nigerian test as a humanitarian venture, but medical
specialists and international aid workers attacked it as unethical and
challenged the company’s claim that the children knew they were part of an
experiment.

Pfizer officials have said that the Nigerian ethics committee approved
giving some Nigerian children an oral formulation of the antibiotic instead
of a fast-acting intravenous version used in U.S. meningitis tests.

A Pfizer spokeswoman also said the ethics committee decided there was no
need to warn Nigerian parents that young lab animals given Trovan-class
antibiotics had suffered joint damage. American parents were told of the lab
animal results in a subsequent Trovan trial.

After receiving a copy of the ethics approval letter from The Post, Wali
said he confronted Dutse and the doctor “did admit to me he was wrong,”
although he provided few specifics.

Tim Menakaya, Nigeria’s health minister, said he had appointed a federal
investigative panel charged with determining whether the trial was conducted
legally and, if so, whether the experiment was “morally right.”

“I am investigating all of it,” Menakaya said.

The probe is headed by Abdulsalami Nasidi, a senior health official who said
that he, like Mohammed, considered the experiment to have been unethical in
1996 but failed in attempts to block it.

“It is a very serious problem; procedures were not followed,” Nasidi said.
“We are going to get to the root of the problem.”

Nasidi said that his investigation, whose findings will be forwarded to
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, failed in initial attempts to locate
“detailed evidence” that Pfizer’s investigators had secured the needed
authorization before launching the experiment. Dutse said he spent two days
last week addressing a closed session of the panel.

The Post’s investigation has generated a flurry of stories in the Nigerian
press, which have reported that “widespread condemnation rages.” Editorials
have called for international investigations, federal lawsuits and criminal
prosecutions.

Nigerian newspapers — always fiery and at times less than entirely
factual — have quoted parents who contend their children had serious
disabilities or died after treatment.

“The government has a duty to tell us whether our children were used as
guinea pigs and, if so, who committed such criminality and who is liable,”
said the Vanguard newspaper.

© 2001 The Washington Post Company

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pfizer accused of irregularities during clinical trial in Nigeria

THE GUARDIAN
Sarah Boseley, health editor
Wednesday January 17, 2001

http://www.guardianunlimited.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,423222,00.html

An inquiry is under way in Nigeria into allegations that the multinational
pharmaceuticals company Pfizer used an experimental drug on sick children
during a major outbreak of meningitis, without official approval.
Yesterday the Nigerian doctor employed by Pfizer to run the clinical trial
in Kano said that the letter certifying approval by the ethics committee at
the hospital where the children were treated was probably written a year
after the experiment took place.
Pfizer admitted last night that there did “appear to be possible documentary
irregularities” and said they were co-operating fully with the inquiry.
Pfizer sent a team in to Kano at very short notice in 1996, when it heard of
the outbreak of spinal meningitis. The company wanted to test the efficacy
of its new drug Trovan on children, and such outbreaks in the west are now
relatively rare……

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1/17/2001 – Upcoming Radio Show & New Site for ICFDA

Mark Miller has spent some long hours developing a whole new look for our
website. He has really done a wonderful job and I want you all to see it. So if
you have not had an opportunity lately to take a look I invite you to check out
the site at www.drugawareness.org The best “Thank you” you can give Mark, or any
of us who are dedicated to bringing you this information, is to pass the web
address out to all you know so that they too can gather the information they
need to save a loved one’s life.

And this coming Sunday (or Monday, depending on what part of the country you are
in) I will the be guest on Art Bell’s Coast to Coast radio program. Ian Punnett
will be the host of the show so it should be good. He and I did a show together
a couple of weeks ago and he is an incredible interviewer. The interview will go
for three hours beginning at 11:00 PM Pacific Time. This is a national program
and is literally heard from coast to coast. To find a station in your area to
listen in or to listen online just go to www.artbell.com. (BTW if you have read
my book, you know that I do not encourage anyone to be awake during those hours
so get a tape ready to record the show and go to bed! 🙂 )

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

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12/30/2000 – McDermott on Prozac, Paxil AND Deseryl?

If the Boston Herald’s source got it right, McDermott was on one heck of a
combo!!! All three are contraindicated in mixing any of the three with even
one of the others, much less two!! His serotonin levels must have been out of
sight using three serotonergic meds! No one should be surprised that he went
psychotic on this combination, even if the drugs were given in succession,
rather than together.

Let me also point out that the so called “Prozac defense” HAS been used
successfully several times. And as far as I know Kip Kinkle’s attorney never
used the information on the drugs in his murder case.

Prozac would also have been found guilty in a case that is almost identical
this one – that of Joseph Wesbecker in Louisville, KY, who also after being
treated with Prozac went on a shooting spree with an AK47 where he worked.
That is it would have been used successfully if Eli Lilly had not bought off
the plaintiffs in the middle of the trial and then neglected to disclose that
payoff to both the judge and the jurors. Judge John Potter deserves a metal
for taking Lilly and the plaintiffs to court and forcing them to admit the
truth of what happened. Although it took him a couple of years he said that
he did it because he did not want his courtroom turned into an advertising
agency for Prozac and pointed out that this is a public safety issue.
Amazingly Lilly has used that case to defend their drug ever since! (Although
my book discusses the Wesbecker case briefly, the book Power to Harm covers
the Wesbecker case in detail.)

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

“According to the source, who is familiar with the still mounting case,
McDermott had been taking Paxil, Prozac and Desyrel – all of which are SSRIs
designed to treat depression, social phobias or anxiety.”

Source: Suspect was taking drugs for depression

by Dave Wedge, Tom Farmer and Jose Martinez
Friday, December 29, 2000

The hulking computer technician accused of gunning down seven of his
co-workers at a Wakefield high-tech firm this week suffered from a host of
mental illnesses – including schizophrenia – for which he was taking a trio
of antidepressants, a source told the Herald yesterday.

Accused killer Michael M. McDermott at his arraignment Wednesday. (Staff
photo by Matthew West) “He’s got some serious psychological issues and a
long (psychiatric) history,” the source said of 42-year-old Michael
“Mucko” McDermott.

McDermott, a divorced Navy veteran from Marshfield who lived most recently in
Haverhill, suffered from severe depression, paranoia and schizophrenia, and
had been in psychiatric treatment for some time, according to the source who
spoke on condition of anonymity.

To cope with his mental disorders, McDermott was prescribed several Selective
Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or SSRIs, designed to increase brain
serotonin. Low levels of brain serotonin can lead to depression and anxiety
disorders.

A source familiar with the investigation said McDermott’s supervisors at
Edgewater Technology Inc. did not appear to know he was using the medication.

McDermott is being held without bail on seven counts of first-degree murder
in Tuesday’s massacre at Edgewater. Prosecutors have said McDermott wielded a
shotgun and semiautomatic rifle with premeditated precision and extreme
atrocity, hunting down workers in the company’s accounting and human
resources offices but letting others flee unharmed.

He was arrested by police who found him sitting in the lobby near the bodies
of two of his victims. At least two Edgewater employees witnessed the
rampage, including one woman who hid behind a chair and her coat beneath a
desk in the accounting office, where two of her co-workers were killed.

Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley has said McDermott may have
been seeking vengeance over the impending docking of his paychecks by
Edgewater to satisfy an IRS demand for back taxes. Sources say the IRS orders
would have left McDermott with just $275 every two weeks.

But investigators also are looking for clues about what drove the man to kill
by delving into the contents of computers seized from McDermott’s office and
home, where police also found bomb-making literature and materials. One
source said McDermott had attempted to wipe out the hard drive of his office
computer the day of the shootings.

Yesterday, neither Coakley nor McDermott’s defense attorney, Kevin
Reddington, would discuss the case or McDermott’s mental state and
psychological history. However, at Wednesday’s arraignment, Reddington raised
the specter of an insanity defense by saying his client had been seeing
psychiatrists and asking the judge to OK his continued medication.

Insanity defenses rarely succeed. The so-called Prozac defense has been
unsuccessfully attempted in dozens of murder cases nationwide, including in
the case of Kip Kinkel, the teenager who killed his family and two
schoolmates in Springfield, Ore.

According to the source, who is familiar with the still mounting case,
McDermott had been taking Paxil, Prozac and Desyrel – all of which are SSRIs
designed to treat depression, social phobias or anxiety.

The source also said orders have been sent by doctors to the Middlesex County
Sheriff’s office so McDermott can receive his medications in the Cambridge
jail. He will be examined by psychiatrists some time in the next week, the
source said.

The revelations about McDermott’s psychiatric history emerged as his
co-workers returned to St. Joseph’s Church – where so many of them had sought
refuge and solace in the hours after the shootings – for a memorial service
in honor of their seven slain colleagues.

“We’re all hurting and grieving, but I can’t tell you how much we’re pulling
together as a team,” Edgewater Technology Chief Executive Officer Shirley
Singleton said after meeting with her employees for the first time since the
shootings.

The company has started a memorial fund for the families of the slain workers
with a $70,000 donation. Singleton also said grief counseling, which began
yesterday at the firm, would continue as long as employees need help.

She declined to discuss the shootings that claimed the lives of Jennifer
Bragg Capobianco, 29; Janice Hagerty, 46; Louis Javelle, 58; Rose Manfredi,
48; Paul Marceau, 36; Cheryl Troy, 50, and Craig Wood, 29.

State and federal authorities are seeking the origin of McDermott’s weapons,
including the AK-47-style rifle and 12-gauge shotgun that he is alleged to
have used to kill the four women and three men, a .32-caliber pistol found in
his pants pocket and a large-caliber hunting rifle found in a locker by his
desk.

Haverhill police began looking for McDermott late Christmas Eve after someone
reported hearing gunfire in the woods near Crystal Lake, where a man fitting
his description was spotted by a car with the license plate “MUCKO.”
Officers traced the car back to McDermott’s apartment but could not locate
him despite several more visits Christmas Day.

One day later, investigators believe McDermott lugged the weapons unnoticed
into the Harvard Mills complex, one law enforcement source said. Two
soft-sided gun cases were found under his desk.

“He walked them right in and placed them under his desk,” the source said.
“They had a skeleton crew working that day and no one apparently saw him or
recognized what the cases were for.”

The source said McDermott loaded the shotgun with buckshot at his work
station before embarking on his killing spree. The source, a longtime
investigator, said the carnage he witnessed in the shooting’s aftermath left
him shaken.

“I was sick to my stomach over it,” he said. “It was unlike any other
murder scene because it was in a work setting. It was almost surreal. One of
the (dead) women had her head resting on her arm like she knew she was going
to get it.”

Meanwhile, gun control advocates held a rally outside the State House to urge
lawmakers to ban the sale of assault weapons like McDermott’s. Although
Massachusetts already has the country’s toughest gun law, it does not ban the
sale of assault weapons manufactured before September 1994.

“They have no legitimate use in a civilized society other than for law
enforcement,” said Stop Handgun Violence co-founder John E. Rosenthal.

Kevin Sowyrda, spokesman for the Gun Owners Action League, declined to
comment specifically on an assault weapon ban but said, “The last thing we
need in this period of mourning are political rallies.”

Donations may be made to the Edgewater Wakefield Memorial Foundation, Box
2133, Wakefield, Mass. 01880-6133. Donations may also be made at Fleet bank
branches.

Karen E. Crummy contributed to this report.

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12/29/2000 – FDA’s Expedited Drug Approvals Cost Lives

Please excuse the flood of new information. I have
been on the road lecturing for the last six months or
so and have several e-mails that have been waiting
for me to send them out to you.

Keep in mind as you read this article that the SSRI
antidepressants were among the first to be approved
after the expidited drug approvals began. If anyone
thinks these seven drugs have been deadly(and they
have taken a terrible toll while bringing in billions for
the drug companies), just wait until the death toll
comes in on the SSRIs!

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

FDA’s Expedited Drug Approvals Cost Lives

“They’ve lost their compass and they forget who it is that they are
ultimately serving,” said Lemuel Moye, a University of Texas School of Public
Health physician who served from 1995 to 1999 on an FDA advisory committee.
“Unfortu- nately the public pays for this, because the public believes that
the FDA is watching the door, that they are the sentry.”

Friday, December 29, 2000

BY DAVID WILLMAN
LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON — For most of its history, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration approved new prescription medicines at a grudging pace, paying
daily homage to the physician’s creed, “First, do no harm.”
Then in the early 1990s, the demand for AIDS drugs changed the political
climate. Congress told the FDA to work closely with pharmaceutical companies
in getting new medicines to market more swiftly. President Clinton urged FDA
leaders to trust industry as “partners, not adversaries.”
The FDA achieved its new goals, but now the human cost is becoming clear.
Seven drugs approved since 1993 have been withdrawn after reports of
deaths and severe side effects. A two-year Los Angeles Times investigation
has found that the FDA approved each of those drugs while disregarding danger
signs or blunt warnings from its own specialists. Then, after receiving
reports of significant harm to patients, the agency was slow to seek
withdrawals.
According to “adverse-event” reports filed with the FDA, the seven drugs
were cited as suspects in 1,002 deaths. Because the deaths are reported by
doctors, hospitals and others on a voluntary basis, the true number of
fatalities could be far higher, according to epidemiologists.
An adverse-event report does not prove that a drug caused a death; other
factors, such as pre-existing disease, could play a role. But the reports are
regarded by public health officials as the most reliable early warnings of
danger.
The FDA’s performance was tracked through an examination of thousands of
pages of government documents, other data obtained under the Freedom of
Information Act and interviews with more than 60 present and former agency
officials.

Not Needed to Save Lives: The seven drugs were not needed to save lives.
One was for heartburn. Another was a diet pill. A third was a painkiller. All
told, six of the medicines were never proven to offer lifesaving benefits,
and the seventh, an antibiotic, was ultimately judged unnecessary because
other, safer antibiotics were available.
The seven are among hundreds of new drugs approved since 1993, a period
during which the FDA has become known more for its speed than its caution. In
1988, only 4 percent of new drugs introduced into the world market were
approved first by the FDA. In 1998, the FDA’s first-in-the-world approvals
spiked to 66 percent.
The drug companies’ batting average in getting new drugs approved also
climbed. By the end of the 1990s, the FDA was approving more than 80 percent
of the industry’s applications for new products, compared with about 60
percent at the beginning of the decade.
And the companies have prospered: The seven unsuccessful drugs alone
generated U.S. sales exceeding $5 billion before they were withdrawn.
Once the world’s unrivaled safety leader, the FDA was the last to
withdraw several new drugs in the late 1990s that were banned by health
authorities in Europe.
“This track record is totally unacceptable,” said Curt Furberg, a
professor of public health sciences at Wake Forest University. “The patients
are the ones paying the price. They’re the ones developing all the side
effects, fatal and non-fatal. Someone has to speak up for them.”

Fatal Missteps: The FDA’s faster and more lenient approach helped supply
pharmacy shelves with scores of new remedies. But it has also yielded these
fatal missteps, according to the documents and interviews:
— Only 10 months ago, FDA administrators dismissed one of its medical
officer’s emphatic warnings and approved Lotronex, a drug for treating
irritable bowel syndrome. Lotronex has been linked to five deaths, the
removal of a patient’s colon and other bowel surgeries. It was pulled off the
market Nov. 28.
— The diet pill Redux, approved in April 1996 despite an advisory
committee’s vote against it, was withdrawn in September 1997 after
heart-valve damage was detected in patients put on the drug. The FDA later
received reports identifying Redux as a suspect in 123 deaths.
— The antibiotic Raxar was approved in November 1997 in the face of
evidence that it may have caused several fatal heart-rhythm disruptions in
clinical studies. FDA officials chose to exclude any mention of the deaths
from the drug’s label. The maker of the pill withdrew it in October 1999.
Raxar was cited as a suspect in the deaths of 13 patients.
— The blood pressure medication Posicor was approved in June 1997
despite findings by FDA specialists that it might fatally disrupt heart
rhythm and interact with certain other drugs, posing potentially severe risk.
Posicor was withdrawn one year later; reports cited it as a suspect in 100
deaths.
— The painkiller Duract was approved in July 1997 after FDA medical
officers warned repeatedly of the drug’s liver toxicity. Senior officials
sided with the manufacturer in softening the label’s warning of the liver
threat. The drug was withdrawn 11 months later. By late 1998, the FDA had
received voluntary reports citing Duract as a suspect in 68 deaths, including
17 that involved liver failure.
— The diabetes drug Rezulin was approved in January 1997 over a medical
officer’s detailed opposition and was withdrawn last March after the agency
had linked 91 liver failures to the pill. Reports cite Rezulin as a suspect
in 391 deaths.
— The nighttime heartburn drug Propulsid was approved in 1993 despite
evidence that it caused heart-rhythm disorders. The officials who approved
the drug failed to consult the agency’s own cardiac specialists about the
signs of danger. The drug was taken out of pharmacies in July after scores of
confirmed heart-rhythm deaths. Overall, Propulsid has been cited as a suspect
in 302 deaths.
The FDA’s handling of Propulsid put children at risk.
The agency never warned doctors not to administer the drug to infants or
other children even though eight youngsters given Propulsid in clinical
studies had died. Pediatricians prescribed it widely for infants afflicted
with gastric reflux, a common digestive disorder.
Parents and their doctors had no way of knowing that the FDA, in August
1996, had found Propulsid to be “not approvable” for children.
By the time the drug was pulled, the FDA had received reports of 24 deaths
of children under age 6 who were given Propulsid. By then the drug had
generated U.S. sales of $2.5 billion for Johnson & Johnson Co.
Questions also surround the recent approvals of other compounds that
remain on the market, including a new flu drug called Relenza. In February
1999, an FDA advisory committee concluded that Relenza had not been proven
safe and effective. The agency nevertheless approved it. After the deaths of
seven patients, the FDA last January issued a “public health advisory” to
doctors.
A total of 10 drugs have been pulled from the market in just the past
three years for safety reasons, including three pills that were approved
before the shift that took hold in 1993. Never before has the FDA overseen
the withdrawals of so many drugs in such a short time. More than 22 million
Americans — about 10 percent of the nation’s adult population — took those
drugs.
With many of the drugs, the FDA used tiny-print warnings or
recommendations in package labeling as a way to justify approvals or stave
off withdrawals. In other instances, the agency has withheld safety
information from labels that physicians say would call into question the use
of the product.

Lost Compass? Present and former FDA specialists said the regulatory
decisions of senior officials have clashed with the agency’s central
obligation, under law, to “protect the public health by ensuring . . . that
drugs are safe and effective.”
“They’ve lost their compass and they forget who it is that they are
ultimately serving,” said Lemuel Moye, a University of Texas School of Public
Health physician who served from 1995 to 1999 on an FDA advisory committee.
“Unfortu- nately the public pays for this, because the public believes that
the FDA is watching the door, that they are the sentry.”
The FDA’s shift is felt directly in the private practice of medicine,
said William Isley, a Kansas City, Mo., physician specializing in diabetes.
He implored the agency to reassess Rezulin three years ago after a patient he
treated suffered liver failure taking the pill.
“FDA used to serve a purpose,” Isley said. “A doctor could feel sure that
a drug he was prescribing was as safe as possible. Now you wonder what kind
of evaluation has been done, and what’s been swept under the rug.”

Withdrawals’ Consequences: FDA officials said they have tried
conscientiously to weigh benefits vs. risks in deciding whether to approve
new drugs. They noted that many doctors and patients complain when a drug is
withdrawn.
“All drugs have risks; most of them have serious risks,” said Janet
Woodcock, director of the FDA’s drug-review center. She added that some of
the withdrawn drugs were “very valuable, even if not lifesaving, and their
removal from the market represents a loss, even if a necessary one.”
Once a drug is proven effective and safe, Woodcock said, the FDA depends
on doctors “to take into account the risks, to read the label. . . . We have
to rely on the practitioner community to be the learned intermediary. That’s
why drugs are prescription drugs.”
In a May 12, 1999, article co-authored with FDA colleagues and published
by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Woodcock said, “The FDA
and the community are willing to take greater safety risks due to the serious
nature of the [illnesses] being treated.”
Compared to the volume of new drugs approved, they wrote, the number of
recent withdrawals “is particularly reassuring.”
However, agency specialists point out that both approvals and withdrawals
are controlled by Woodcock and her administrators. When they consider a
withdrawal, they face the unpleasant prospect of repudiating their original
decision to approve.
Woodcock, 52, received her medical degree at Northwestern University and
is a board-certified internist. She alluded in a recent interview to the
difficulty she feels in rejecting a proposed drug that might cost a company
$150 million or more to develop. She also acknowledged the commercial
pressures in a March 1997 article.
But last summer — following the eighth and ninth drug withdrawals —
Woodcock said the FDA cannot rely on labeling precautions, alone, to resolve
safety concerns.
“As medical practice has changed . . . it’s just much more difficult for
[doctors] to manage” the expanded drug supply, Woodcock said in an interview.
Yet the imperative to move swiftly, cooperatively, remains.
“We are now making decisions more quickly and more predictably while
maintaining the same high standards for product safety and efficacy,” FDA
Commissioner Jane Henney said in a National Press Club speech on Dec. 12.

The Role of AIDS: The impetus for change at the FDA emerged in 1988, when
AIDS activists paralyzed operations for a day at the agency’s 18-story
headquarters in Rockville, Md. They demanded immediate approval of
experimental drugs that offered at least a ray of hope to those otherwise
facing death.
The FDA often was taking more than two years to review new drug
applications. The pharmaceutical industry saw a chance to loosen the
regulatory brakes and expedite an array of new products to market. The
companies and their Capitol Hill lobbyists pressed for advantage: If
unshackled, they said, the companies could invent and develop more remedies
faster.
The political pressure mounted, and the FDA began to bow. By 1991, agency
officials told Congress they were making significant progress in speeding the
approval process.
The emboldened companies pushed for more. They proposed that drugs
intended for either life-threatening or “serious” disorders receive a quicker
review.
“The pharmaceutical companies came back and lobbied the agency and the
Hill for that word, ‘serious,’ ” recalled Jeffrey Nesbit, who in 1991 was
chief of staff to FDA Commissioner David Kessler.
In 1992, Kessler issued regulations giving the FDA discretion to
“accelerate approval of certain new drugs” for serious or life-threatening
conditions. That same year a Democrat-controlled Congress approved and
then-President Bush signed the Prescription Drug User Fee Act. It established
goals that call for the FDA to review drugs within six months or a year; the
pharmaceutical companies pay a user fee to the FDA, now $309,647, with the
filing of each new drug application.

Reinventing Government: The newly elected Clinton administration climbed
aboard with its “reinventing government” project. Headed by Vice President Al
Gore, the project called for the FDA, by January 2000, to reduce “by an
average of one year the time required to bring important new drugs to the
American public.” As Clinton put it in a speech on March 16, 1995, the
objective was to “get rid of yesterday’s government.”
For the FDA’s medical reviewers — the physicians, pharmacologists,
chemists and biostatisticians who scrutinize the safety and effectiveness of
emerging drugs — a new order had taken hold.
The reviewers work out of public view in secure office buildings
clustered along Maryland’s Route 355. They examine truckloads of scientific
documents. They are well-educated; some are highly motivated to do their best
for a nation of patients who unknowingly count on their expertise.
One of these reviewers was Michael Elashoff, a biostatistician who
arrived at the FDA in 1995 after earning degrees from the University of
California, Berkeley, and the Harvard School of Public Health.
“From the first drug I reviewed, I really got the sense that I was doing
something worthwhile. I saw what a difference a single reviewer can make,”
said Elashoff, the son and grandson of statisticians.
Last year he was assigned to review Relenza, the new flu drug developed
by Glaxo Wellcome. He recommended against approval, citing a lack of proven
effectiveness and potential risks.
An agency advisory committee agreed and on Feb. 24 voted 13-4 against
approving Relenza.
After the vote, senior FDA officials upbraided Elashoff. They stripped
him of his review of another flu drug. They told him he would no longer make
presentations to the advisory committee. And they approved Relenza as a safe
and effective flu drug.
Elashoff and other FDA reviewers discern a powerful message.
“People are aware that turning something down is going to cause problems
with [officials] higher up in FDA, maybe more problems than it’s worth,” he
said.
Elashoff left the FDA four months ago.
In 1994, the FDA’s goal was to finish 55 percent of its new drug reviews
on time; the agency achieved 95 percent. In both 1997 and 1998, the goal was
90 percent and the FDA achieved 100 percent.
From 1993-99 the agency approved 232 drugs regarded as “new molecular
entities,” compared with 163 during the previous seven years, a 42 percent
increase.
The time-limit goals quickly were treated as deadlines within the FDA —
imposing relentless pressure on reviewers and their bosses to quickly
conclude their work and approve the drugs.
“The goals were to be taken seriously. I don’t think anybody expected the
agency to make them all,” said William Schultz, a deputy FDA commissioner
from 1995 to 1999.
Schultz, who helped craft the 1992 user-fee act as a congressional staff
lawyer, added: “You can meet the goal by either approving the drug or denying
the approval. But there are some who argue that what Congress really wanted
was not just decisions, but approvals. That is what really gets dangerous.”
The user fees have enabled the FDA to hire more medical reviewers. Last
year, 236 medical officers examined new drugs compared with 162 officers on
duty in 1992, the year before the user fees took effect.

‘A Sweatshop Environment’: Even so, Woodcock acknowledged in an FDA
publication last fall that the workloads and tight performance goals “create
a sweatshop environment that’s causing high staffing turnover.”
Dozens of officials interviewed by the Times made similar observations.
The perception of coziness with drug makers is perpetuated by potential
conflicts of interest within the FDA’s 18 advisory committees, the
influential panels that recommend which drugs deserve approval or should
remain on the market. The FDA allows some appointees to double as consultants
or researchers for the same companies whose products they are evaluating on
the public’s behalf. Such was the case during committee appraisals of several
of the recently withdrawn drugs, including Lotronex and Posicor, the Times
found.
Few doubt the $100 billion pharmaceutical industry’s clout. Over the last
decade, the drug companies have steered $44 million in contributions to the
major political parties and to candidates for the White House and both houses
of Congress.
The FDA reviewers said they and their bosses fear that unless the new
drugs are approved, companies will erupt and Congress will retaliate by
refusing to renew the user fees. This would cripple FDA operations — and
jeopardize jobs.
Yet even if the user fees remain, the FDA is prohibited from spending the
revenue for anything other than reviewing new drugs. So while the budget for
pre-approval reviews has soared, the agency has gotten no similar increase of
resources to evaluate the safety of the drugs after they are prescribed.
Leading industry officials say Americans have nothing to fear from the
wave of drug approvals.
“Do unsafe drugs enter and remain in the marketplace? Absolutely not,”
said Bert Spilker, senior vice president for scientific and regulatory
affairs for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, in
remarks last year to industry and FDA scientists.
But during interviews over the last two years, current and former FDA
specialists cited repeated instances when drugs were approved with less than
compelling evidence of safety or effectiveness. They also said that important
information has been excluded from the labels on some medications.

Salt Lake Tribune, December 29, 2000, pg. A10

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The Aftermath of Antidepressants

The Aftermath Of Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Fen-Phen, & Many Other Serotonergic Drugs

By Ann Blake-Tracy – Executive Director,
International Coalition For Drug Awareness

Ann Blake-Tracy has specialized for 10 years in adverse reactions to serotonergic medications. She is the executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness (www.drugawareness.org) and author of the book PROZAC:PANACEA OR PANDORA?

WARNING: IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT A GRADUAL TAPERING OFF OF MEDICATIONS IS SAFEST WITHDRAWAL METHOD TO AVOID SERIOUS WITHDRAWAL EFFECTS

Often there is the terrible withdrawal associated with the SSRIs. Unless patients are warned to come very slowly off these drugs by shaving minuscule amounts off their pills each day, as opposed to cutting them in half or taking a pill every other day, they can go into terrible withdrawal which is generally delayed several months. This withdrawal includes bouts of overwhelming depression, terrible insomnia and fatigue, and can include life-threatening physical effects, psychosis, or violent outbursts.

Note: Keep in mind that these drugs are all serotonergic agents and clones or “copy cat” drugs of Prozac – the first SSRI antidepressant introduced to the market in America. Basically what applies to one, applies to the others. For instance we have more data out on Prozac because it has been around longer, but as the mode of action is the same for all of these meds the effects will be the same for the other drugs on this list as it is for Prozac. If we are discussing one drug, similar effects would be expected from any other company’s version of the drug. In fact it would be more honest to give them the titles of Prozac #1, Prozac #2,Prozac #3, etc. rather than the brand names they have been given, from the second clone, Zoloft, to the latest Prozac clone, Celexa.

My concern is that each new SSRI introduced seems to be a little stronger on serotonin reuptake and therefore potentially more dangerous. And the all too common practice of going from one SSRI to another blocks additional receptors and magnifies the harmful effects of these medications. It is crucial to learn that according to medical research the theory behind this group of drugs is invalid. Known as serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They are designed to block serotonin in the brain, thereby increasing brain levels of this neurotransmitter. Yet for three decades researchers have been intensely interested in serotonin because LSD and PCP produce their psychedelic effects by mimicking serotonin. Elevated serotonin is found in: psychosis or schizophrenia, mood disorders, organic brain disease, mental retardation, autism and Alzheimer’s. While low levels of the metabolism of serotonin (which also produces high serotonin), are found in those with: depression, anxiety, suicide, violence, arson, substance abuse, insomnia, violent nightmares, impulsive behavior, reckless driving, exhibitionism, hostility, argumentative behavior, etc. The drugs increase serotonin and decrease the metabolism of serotonin leading to any and all of the above results. This information is extremely crucial for patients and physicians to learn as soon as possible. We have a high rate of use of these drugs nationwide. Raising serotonin and lowering the metabolism of serotonin in such a large number of people can produce very serious, widespread and long term problems for all of society.

So why are we now in the 90’s being told that increased serotonin is good for us? Is it because it is good for the pocketbooks of the manufacturers? One manufacturer is running full page newspaper and magazine ads and half hour TV infomercials to bring in over $7 million daily, while on the other hand they are settling Prozac suicide cases for huge amounts of money in exchange for silence from victim’s families on the details of those settlements. The silence in the court cases insures that the drug will be allowed to finish out its patent time, thus bringing in the highest possible profits for the company. They know that with $7 million coming in daily, they can afford to settle a large number of lawsuits and still come out “smelling like a rose” financially.

Eli Lilly has been sued for Prozac related deaths in numerous state and federal courts with most of these cases being settled or dismissed – many were dismissed due to the unethical manipulation of the Wesbecker verdict
(see time line for details).

We have witnessed no decrease in suicide, but increases in murder/suicide, suicide, unwed pregnancies, domestic violence, manic-depression, MS, hypoglycemia, diabetes, bankruptcies, divorce, mothers (parents) killing children, road rage, school shootings, cancer, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia since these serotonergic drugs have become so popular and I relate it directly to the effects of these drugs.

The death toll has continued to climb drastically since I wrote PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? Some of the cases you may be familiar with are:

1. Mr. and Mrs. Phil Hartman (Zoloft), Prozac was found in the van of Mark Barton, the Atlanta day trader, who recently killed his family and others in a shooting spree before taking his own life;
2. Neal Furrow, in LA Jewish school shooting was reported to have been court ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications;
3. The Salt Lake Family History Library shooting;
4. School shootings in Littleton, Colorado (Luvox), Atlanta, Georgia, Springfield, Oregon (Prozac), and Caldwell, Idaho;
5. Another boy in Pocatello, ID in 1998 who in seizure activity from Zoloft had a stand off at the school;
6. 15 year old Chris Shanahan (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman;
7. The shooting at the lottery in Connecticut last spring by Matthew Beck (Luvox) that left five dead in a murder/suicide;
8. The New York City Subway bombing by Edward Leary (Prozac);
9. Nick Mansies (Paxil) in New Jersey who was convicted of killing a little boy who was selling cookies door to door;
10. In Orange County, CA Dana Sue Gray (Paxil) who co-workers described as a very caring nurse killed several elderly people;
11. Officer Stephen Christian (Prozac) one of the finest officers on the Dallas Police force, who ran into a police substation shooting at fellow officers and was killed;
12. 13 year old Chris Fetters (Prozac) in Iowa who killed her favorite aunt;
13. David Rothman (Prozac) killed two co-workers and himself at the Dept. of Agriculture in Ingelwood, CA;
14. Williams Evans (Zoloft) shot one co-worker at the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services before shooting himself in Columbus, OH;
15. Winatchee, WA where 43 people were wrongfully imprisoned in a false accusation of sexual abuse “witch hunt” fury started by a child under the influence of Prozac and Paxil;
16. Christopher Vasquez (Zoloft) killed Michael Morrow in Central Park;
17. Megan Hogg (Prozac) duct taped the mouths and noses of her three little girls and took a handful of pills; Vera Espinoza (Prozac) in Randolph, VT shot her small son and daughter before shooting herself;
18. An elderly man (Prozac) in Layton, UT axed his wife and daughter to death;
19. Margaret Kastanis (Prozac) used a knife and hammer to kill her three children before stabbing herself to death;
20. An elderly man (Paxil) in Dallas, TX strangled his wife before shooting himself twice in the chest;
21. Larramie Huntzinger (Zoloft) blacked out and ran his car into three young girls killing two in Salt Lake City, UT;
22. Mary Hinkelman (Prozac), a nurse in Baroda, MI shot her two small daughters and her sister before shooting herself;
23. Lisa Fox (Prozac) shot her small son and her dog before shooting herself in Brighton, MI;
24. Debi Louselle (Zoloft) shot daughter and then herself in Salt Lake City, UT;
25. A father in Wyoming shot his wife, daughter and baby grand-daughter then himself after only days on Paxil;
26. A mother (Prozac) in Pleasant Grove, UT killed her 17 year old son with a sledge hammer while he slept before she attempted suicide by drinking Drano;
27. Larry Butz, a superintendent of schools in Ames, IA shot his wife, son and daughter before shooting himself – many cases pending in court are not mentioned.

This is only a handful of MANY, MANY more cases – there would not be room for anything else if I continued listing the cases.

A few additional famous victims: Princess Di (Prozac) and Dodi Fayed -via their driver Henri Paul (Prozac), Monica Lewinsky (Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Serzone and Phen-Fen), Chris Farley (Prozac), Pres. Clinton’s ex-partner Jim Mc Dougal (Prozac), Abby Hoffman (Prozac), Del Shannon (Prozac), Danielle Steele’s son (Prozac), INXS singer Michael Hutchence (Prozac), Sarah – Dutchess of York (Phen-Fen)

The latest figures show Prozac has about 44,000 adverse reports filed with the FDA. Out of those reports there are about 2,500 deaths with the large majority of them linked to suicide or violence.

The suicide statistics relating to women are shocking. According to the CDC there are about 30,000 suicides yearly in the United States. Out of those about 6,000 are women – a ratio of about 4.3 to 1, male to female. About twice as many women as men are treated for depression demonstrating that generally men are more than 8 times as lethal in their suicidal gestures as women. Women were known to use less lethal means until the SSRI antidepressants hit the market. But on Prozac and Paxil, women committed 40% of the suicides – many were strikingly violent and clearly leaving no
means for rescue. (Remember that because Prozac was the first of this group of drugs its track record gives us a vision of what is to come with other serotonergic antidepressants, especially when they are so powerful in the reuptake of serotonin.)

TIME LINE OF CRITICAL INFORMATION DISCOVERED SINCE THE BOOK:

*NOTE: Any documents beginning with PZ are Lilly documents on Prozac which have been ferreted out by attorneys and are now being used in lawsuits against the drug company. (Christian vs. Eli Lilly, by Vickery & Waldner, Houston, TX)

* Mid 1950’s: Dr. Felix Sulman began his research on those who suffer from high serotonin levels because of an inability to metabolize serotonin. He found that serotonin is a stress neuro-hormone leading even rabbits, the most docile of creatures, to be aggressive. He coined the term “serotonin irritation syndrome.” He found that those who were unable to break down serotonin would have the levels increase. They were in effect being poisoned by the serotonin produced by their own bodies, the irritation victims suffered from migraines, hot flashes, irritability, sleeplessness, pains around the heart, difficulty in breathing, a worsening of bronchial complaints, irrational tension and anxiety. . . horrifying nightmares. It also caused his volunteers to sleep badly – that is, always on the edge of consciousness so that they were not properly rested – and to wake after only a few hours of sleep.” (sleep apnea) He also found it caused pregnant women to abort.
* October, 1977: Slater, et.al., Inhibition of REM Sleep by Fluoxetine, a Specific Inhibitor of Serotonin Uptake, October 1977, at p. 385 – Prozac was found to affect sleep habits, specifically to suppress deep sleep, which the scientists call REM (rapid eye movement) sleep in cats. By the fourth day of drug treatment the cats receiving the larger doses, which had been friendly for years, began to growl and hiss. After cessation of the drug treatment, the cats returned to their usual friendly behavior in a week or two; those on the higher doses recovering more slowly. – – 1977: [PZ 1298 1999] “A total of six dogs from the high dose group were removed from treatment … due to severe occurrences of either aggressive behavior, ataxia, or anorexia.”]
* July 31, 1978: [PZ1061 1025-28, July 31, 1978] Human subjects began to be used by Lilly in controlled clinical trials. The first group of patients showed no improvement in their depression, but there were a “large number of reports of adverse reactions.” The first human to receive Prozac experienced “dystonia resembling an extrapyramidal reaction” – an uncontrollable, Parkinson-like shaking or trembling.
* July 23, 1979 [PZ 1297 969] The clinical studies in depression showed that “some patients have converted from severe depression to agitation within a few days; in one case the agitation was marked and the patient had to be taken off drug. In future studies the use of benzodiazepines to control the agitation will be permitted.”
* August 3, 1979: The clinical trials excluded patients who had serious suicidal risk. [E.g. control #001519, IND Protocol No. 14, August 3, 1979; PZ1135 695, July 2, 1986 memorandum of Dr. Wernicke].
* December 17, 1984: [PZ 65 449, report of Lilly to FDA] Lilly reported to the FDA that benzodiazepines and other sedatives were given with Prozac throughout the clinical trials. This was to help offset the stimulant effect of the drug. In a memorandum of Lilly scientist Charles Beasley [PZ 541 2007-08] issues of “agitation vs. sedation” and concomitant sedative medications like benzodiazepines (to control the agitation) are discussed. Concerns are that agitation in a suicidal patient can induce suicide.
* March 3, 1986 Lilly controlled the flow of information to the FDA and decided that suicide data on Prozac should not be evaluated, “in the safety-update for the FDA the number of suicides and suicide attempts will not be especially evaluated.” [PZ 879 1966, March 3, 1986 telex]
* September 12, 1986: German BGA very concerned with the risk of suicide and ultimately approved Prozac on the condition that physicians be warned of the risk of suicide and told to consider using sedatives and closely monitor patients. [PZ 878 1383, report of Lilly consultant Pohlmeier; PZ 2467 299, September 12, 1986] Lilly actually warned physicians in Germany and other countries that this measure “can be necessary” to minimize the risk of suicide, [PZ 1341 402, December 6, 1989 German warning; PZ 2469 490]
* February 7, 1990: In response to the Harvard study, Teicher, et al., Lilly’s top scientist, Leigh Thompson, told his fellow executives that “Lilly can go down the tubes if we lose Prozac”. [PZ 1941 827, February 7, 1990]. In the ensuing months Dr. Thompson spoke frequently with his principal FDA regulator about the issue, once at 6:15 in the morning. [PZ 391 1959, July 18, 1990]. Lilly later described the man as “our defender”. [PZ1941 2256, September 12, 1990]
* May 29, 1990, Lilly added “suicidal ideation” in the section dealing with post-marketing reports. [PZ883 562, July 26, 1990 memorandum]
* September 14, 1990: Contrary to the advice of his staff, Dr. Thompson told the Eli Lilly Board of Directors that suicide and hostile acts were probably, caused by the patients’ underlying disorders rather than Prozac. [PZ542 2101, September 14, 1990; PZ4002 889, Board Minutes]. The staff was concerned because they knew that this issue was never studied during the clinical trials.
* September 11, 1990: Note from Dr. Bruce Stadel, Chief of the Epidemiology Branch, attaching an analysis done by Dr. David Graham, Section Chief within the Epidemiology Branch, of Lilly’s July 17, 1990 submission to the FDA on the Prozac/suicidality/violence issue. The following factors were (a) brought to the attention of those in the higher echelons of the FDA, but (b) ignored, discounted or “trashed” by them: #1 Lilly’s analysis improperly excluded 76 out of 97 suicides; as Dr. Stadel expressed it, “[i]t is inappropriate in a safety analysis to exclude such a large proportion of case”; #2 Lilly admitted that its clinical trials “were not designed for the prospective evaluation of suicidality” and that “[i]n these trials, patients with current suicidal ideation were excluded”; #3 Lilly admitted that the HAMD-3 rating scale it used to assess suicidality in clinical trials was inadequate; and that Lilly’s statements about violence only demonstrated “how great under-reporting is” and that “[t]he actual data showed a higher percentage of treatment-emergent suicidality among fluoxetine (2.9% than tricyclic (0.8%) patients . . . [which percentage] was similar to that reported by Teicher.”
* July 1, 1992: A study lead by Dr. Lorne Brandes of the Manatoba Institute of Cell Biology in Winnipeg, Canada was published in CANCER RESEARCH linking the two most popular anti-depressants, Elavil and Prozac to cancer.
* 1994: A study headed by Howard Markell published in The Journal of Pediatrics showed LSD flashbacks and LSD reactions induced by Prozac.
* June 9, 1994: The New York Review of Books article by Dr. Sherwin Nuland slams Peter Kramer for pushing Prozac in his book Listening to Prozac. He pointed out that all docs are taught in med school this little poem about serotonin: “This man was addicted to moanin’, confusion, edema, and groanin’, intestinal rushes, great tricolored blushes, and died from too much serotonin.” He listed constriction of lungs and intestines, diarrhea, wheezing, flushing, mental confusion, tightening of bronchioles, and lessening conscious control over behavior from increases in serotonin. “Moreover, . . . it is still too early to arrive at a reliable estimate of possible dangers that may appear in the long term,” and 15% dropped out of the clinical trials on Prozac because of adverse reactions. He also discussed the similarity of serotonin to the psychedelics like LSD and PCP.
* November, 1994: Krystal JH, Webb E, Cooney N, et al., “Specificity of Ethanol-like Effects Elicited in Serotonergic and Noradrenergic Mechanisms,” ARCHIVES OF GENERAL PSYCHIATRY, Vol. 51, Issue 11, pgs 898-911, 1994 demonstrated that an increase in brain levels of either of two neurotransmitters, serotonin or noradrenalin, produces:
#1 a craving for alcohol,
#2 anger,
#3 anxiety.
They found this to be especially true for those who have a history of alcoholism. An increase serotonin in turn increases noradrenalin. Numerous reports have been made by reformed alcoholics who are being “driven” to alcohol again after being prescribed a serotonergic drug. And many other patients who had no previous history of alcoholism have continued to report an “overwhelming compulsion” to drink while using these drugs.

A few personal accounts:

#1 A young woman, a recovering alcoholic, reported that during the eight month period she had been using Prozac she found it necessary to attend AA meetings every day in order to fight off the strong compulsions to begin drinking again.
#2 In the Southeastern United States a middle aged psychologist, also a recovering alcoholic, after being prescribed Prozac, found herself needing to attend AA meetings morning, noon, and night to keep from destroying the sobriety she had achieved.
#3 A young father, who was Mormon and had never before in his life used alcohol, found himself drinking Ever Clear and exhibiting bizarre as well as violent behavior, after being prescribed Prozac and Ritalin.
#4 A young mother who had never used alcohol before began drinking large amounts within weeks of being prescribed Prozac and quickly found herself committed to a mental institution due to the psychotic behavior that resulted. Added to her Prozac prescription were anti-psychotic meds and electric shock treatments. She then began to experience seizures and was started on anti-seizure meds.
#5 A concerned neighbor reported her friend was drinking straight Vodka on a regular basis after being prescribed Zoloft. #6 A daughter reported her father, sober for 15 years, began drinking again on Prozac.

* December, 1994: Not guilty verdict on Wesbecker wrongful death suit against Lilly’s Prozac.
* Treatment emergent suicidality with Prozac has been demonstrated to be two to three times higher than any other anti-depressant. (Jick, et al., Antidepressants and Suicide)
* May, 1995: Judge John Potter who presided over the Wesbecker case filed documents to demand that Lilly be forced to disclose the secret deal they made with the plaintiffs to withhold very damaging evidence in exchange for settlement. In his pleading to the court Potter stated, “Lilly sought to buy not just the verdict, but the court’s judgment as well.” Potter accused Lilly of “giving the verdict the widest possible publicity” accompanied by the claim that Lilly had “proven in a court of law that Prozac was safe.” Furious with Lilly’s attempt to turn his courtroom into an advertising agency for Prozac, he claims his motion reflects “the court’s duty to protect the integrity of the judicial system.” He believes, as do prominent legal ethicists, that a full and open disclosure of the terms of the settlement is a necessary public safety issue.
* July, 1997: Mayo Clinic found that the increased serotonin, which produces blood clotting, was causing a gummy glossy substance to build up on heart valves. Dr. Heidi Connolly with the Divisions of Cardiovascular Diseases and Internal Medicine, who headed the study stated, “We do know that fenfluramine and phentermine [Fen-Phen] alter the way the brain chemical serotonin is metabolized, and serotonin that circulates in the blood can cause valve injury.” Fenfluramine produces a rapid release of serotonin, inhibits serotonin reuptake, and may also have receptor agonist activity. The study’s revelations should send a loud and very clear warning throughout the medical community concerning all serotonergic medications.
* August 25, 1997: Letter to Ann Blake-Tracy, “I caught the last part of your presentation on Radio Station KEX, Portland, while flipping through the dial last night. I was flabbergasted to hear you speak of the horrible potential side effects from Prozac, which I have been taking for approximately four years, particularly since I have been diagnosed recently with cardiomyalgia, severe artery disease, congestive heart failure and also Fibromyalgia. (I was a very “well” person prior to taking the Prozac and am now exhausted all the time, with horrible aching joints and considerable pain and a massive heart problem.) The adverse cardiovascular effects from Prozac, the one drug in this class of drugs out long enough to have somewhat of track record, are listed in the drug information sheet put out by the manufacturer. The “frequent” effects listed are hemorrhage and hypertension. The “infrequent” effects include very serious adverse effects: congestive heart failure, myocardial infarct, tachycardia, angina pectoris, arrhythmia, hypotension, migraine syncope and vascular headache.
* September, 1997: Redux and Phen-Fen were pulled from the market.
* October 20, 1997: Dr. Candace Pert, Research Professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, past head of the brain chemistry department at the National Institute of Health, and author of the new book, MOLECULES OF EMOTION, sounded an alarm in TIME, October 20. She stated, “I am alarmed at the monster that Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon Snyder and I created when we discovered the simple binding assay for drug receptors 25 years ago. Prozac and other antidepressant serotonin-receptor-active compounds may also cause cardiovascular problems in some susceptible people after long-term use, which has become common practice despite the lack of safety studies.”
As we are being led to believe these drugs produce effects only in the brain, Dr. Pert accuses the medical profession of oversimplifying the action of these drugs and adds that “the public is being misinformed about the precision of these selective serotonin-uptake inhibitors.” It is critical that both physicians and patients be made aware of these adverse physical reactions. She points out that the medical profession not only oversimplifies the action of these drugs in the brain, but “ignores the body as if it exists merely to carry the head around!” And that, “these molecules of emotion regulate every aspect of our physiology.” The body plays a very significant role in how we feel and act the way we do. This fact can no longer be ignored. Serotonin and serotonin receptors exist throughout the body, as well as the brain, and every aspect of the body’s physiology is affected by these serotonergic medications. In fact approximately 90% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the intestinal tract. According to Dr. Michael Gershon of New York’s Columbia Presbyterian, this is the reason why Prozac produces so many gastrointestinal side effects.
* March, 1998: Two new studies published. One that shows Prozac so strongly inhibits one particular serotonin receptor that this produces both obesity and seizures and the other discusses the blockage of muscle and neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptors indicating interactions between the serotonergic and cholinergic systems in the central nervous system.
* April, 1998: Our next generation of guinea pigs – one month before a 15 year old on Prozac, Kip Kinkel, in Springfield OR killed his parents and two classmates the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Psychiatrists asked the FDA to consider the serotonergic antidepressants for use in children as young as two and drugs for anxiety, aggression and manic depression in babies only one month old! The use of Prozac among young children ages 6 – 12 has increased an alarming 400% from 1995 (51.000 new prescriptions) to 1996 (203,000 new prescriptions).
* June, 1999: CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY NEWS reported that Dr. Malcolm Bowers a psychiatrist at Yale has found that physicians are not paying enough attention to patient factors that could make initiation of SSRIs dangerous. He found that “SSRI-induced psychosis has accounted for 8% of all general hospital psychiatric admissions over a recent 14-month period.” And “What is surprising is that this particular group of side effects is really underplayed.” (The 8% figure represents over 150,000 SSRI induced psychotic breaks per year!!!!!!!)

WARNING: Children so often get coughs and colds, yet using a cough or cold medication with dextromethorphan could cause the serotonin syndrome, a very serious and potentially fatal adverse reaction and/or produce PCP reactions.

Serotonin syndrome remains an often misdiagnosed or unrecognized fatal reaction due to the medical profession being so uninformed about this drug-induced disorder.

Developing brains are far more vulnerable than adult brains and brain damage generally becomes more apparent after the brain is fully developed, rather than immediately. Increases in cortisol produce brain damage while medical research shows that one single 30mg dose of Prozac DOUBLES the level of cortisol. This drastic increase in cortisol causes a multitude of serious physical reactions including impairment of linear growth, as well as impairing the development and regeneration of the liver, kidneys, muscles, etc. In light of so many unspeakable tragedies, I have grown weary of all the silly philosophical discussions we have heard since Kramer’s LISTENING TO PROZAC came out. Patients are dying or having their health destroyed mentally as well as physically (when do we begin to discuss the very serious physical side effects associated with high levels of serotonin?). These patients and their families are frantically searching for answers while this research sits right under our noses and could easily be made available to them. The widespread use of Prozac and its clones is not a statement of either their safety or their effectiveness. It is a statement about the effectiveness of an infinite marketing budget and incredible advertising campaign! These drugs have very serious physical side effects, as well as dangerous psychiatric side effects.

To prevent further tragedy this medical research must be acknowledged and addressed in headline news without delay rather than remain buried in seldom read medical research documents as has been the case in the past with other mind- altering medications, once thought to be safe, which were subsequently prohibited by law, i.e. LSD, PCP, cocaine, etc.

PRAISE FOR PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?

“I started having bad reactions . . . Oct ’96 I found Prozac to be causing joint and muscle pain itself . . . signs of Cushing’s Syndrome. . . I was very pro-Prozac until last October and wouldn’t have listened to anything said against it until I got problems (thought it was saving my life, while all the time it was insidiously and interested but quite skeptical. However, since reading it and having suffered so many problems with Prozac, I have come to the conclusion that the book is brilliant, and a life-line as far as I am concerned. I tried to fault the research and reasoning, but could not and still can’t. I would like to extend my thanks to you for your heroic stance on this enormously important issue. I have tremendous respect and admiration for your hard work, determination and courage in pursuing this subject so vigorously, against so much powerful opposition for the benefit of people like me. Your integrity puts many, if not most doctors and psychiatrists to shame. It is reassuring to find that there are a few people who are prepared to fight for the truth for the benefit of mankind.” Oct. 1998 note from a British nurse

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? is an incredible compilation of medical data that will lay the groundwork to educate other professionals and the general public about the new SSRI antidepressants – Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Effexor and Serzone.” (Jeff Wise, psychologist, Salt Lake County Drug and Alcohol Abuse )

“In 15 years of reading books on drugs I have never read a book with more information or so well documented as PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA?” (Dr. Kevin Millet, Bountiful, UT)

“As I lecture to physicians nationwide on the medical use of psychoactive drugs PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? always accompanies me in my brief case.” (Dr. Bruce Woolley, neuropsychopharmacologist, Brigham Young University)

“I found PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? fascinating reading and the most complete analysis of the various factors pertaining to the Prozac controversy.” (Attorney Donald Sokol, Susanville, CA)

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? literally saved my life, and if I’d known about it a year earlier, could have saved me untold grief and agony as well. It is the only collated, comprehensive source I know of for this information , . . .. this book described everything that had happened to me in great detail, gave scientific reasons why it happened, backed it all up with solid research, included testimonials from hundreds of others in the same situation, it immaculately details, explains, and refers one to the latest research on a whole hornet’s nest of ‘atypical’ side-and/or after-effects from the use of these antidepressants. It also contains information on how to reduce the severity of problems encountered while starting on or going off these meds.” (Nick Jameson, Prozac patient)

“Magnificent! This text is a monument to Ann Tracy’s tenacity and love for her fellow human beings.” (Dr. Paul Kennedy, N.J.)

“PROZAC: PANACEA OR PANDORA? has not left one question about these drugs unanswered! Ann Tracy has covered them all.” (Margaret McCaffery, N.Y. who lost her daughter, a neurosurgeon, in a Prozac suicide)

“The work Ann Blake-Tracy is doing is very important and she is truly a heroine.” (Dr. Candace Pert, Washington, DC, one of the two developers of the serotonin binding process which made possible the development of the serotonergic drugs. Dr. Pert has boldly stated, speaking of these serotonergic medications, “I am alarmed at the monsters I created!”)

WARNING: In sharing this information about adverse reactions to antidepressants I always recommend that you also give reference to my CD on safe withdrawal, Help! I Can’t Get Off My Antidepressant!, so that we do not have more people dropping off these drugs too quickly – a move which I have warned from the beginning can be even more dangerous than staying on the drugs!

The FDA also now warns that any abrupt change in dose of an antidepressant can produce suicide, hostility or psychosis. And these reactions can either come on very rapidly or even be delayed for months depending upon the adverse effects upon sleep patterns when the withdrawal is rapid! You can find the CD on safe and effective withdrawal helps here: http://store.drugawareness.org/

Learn More
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11/1/1999 – Colorado School Board Initiative

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

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

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

The e-mail address is State.Board@…

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10/24/1999 – The Pain in Littleton Continues

A Message from Ann Blake-Tracy…

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

How many more?

How many more?

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

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

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

By COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mom of CHS victim kills herself

By David Olinger
Denver Post Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 1999 The Denver Post.
____________________________

Columbine victim’s mother kills self in pawn shop

By Karen Abbott
Denver Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 22, 1999

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10/19/1999 – Paxil Lawsuit Filed

This article just ran in the Salt Lake Tribune about a lawsuit filed
against the makers of Paxil. Two years ago this young woman and her
boyfriend found my members.aol.com/atracyphd web site. They called me
for help as they came to the realization that what they thought was
“helping” her was actually the problem – her medication. She was very
sensitive to medications. While on the SSRI antidepressants, she became
so suicidal that her boyfriend, a brain chemist, had to handcuff her to
him in order to keep her from hurting herself! Their story will give
you some insight as to what a nightmare these medications can cause for
some people.

Ann Blake-Tracy, Executive Director
International Coalition for Drug Awareness
———

Instead of making her well, woman says drug sent her …
Spinning Out of Control

Monday, October 18, 1999

BY SHAWN FOSTER
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE

Natalia Victorovna Sevastianenko, a Utah college student from the
former Soviet republic of Belarus, had severe stomach pains. But a
doctor and nurse practitioner thought the discomfort might be a symptom
of depression.

After all, their patient was thousands of miles from home and alone in
a foreign country.

The medical staff recommended she take the anti-depressant Prozac.
After a series of phobic episodes and fainting, the staff changed the
prescription to a related drug, Paxil. That was when Sevastianenko said
she began to think about suicide. She made five attempts on her life
and was haunted by obsessive, irrational thoughts about hurting her
boyfriend and others.

Now, Sevastianenko is suing the pharmaceutical company that produces
Paxil for failing to provide “proper, honest [and] candid warnings.”

More at…..

http://www.sltrib.com/1999/oct/10181999/utah/39162.htm

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