8/25/2000 – 20/20 Show Tonight on SSRI Medications

FYI–Tonight (Friday, 8/25/00) on ABC 20/20 at 10pm eastern
time will be another show about the problems with SSRI
medication.

Please check your TV GUIDE for the time in your area. Mark

H I G H L I G H T S
Friday. Aug. 25 Dr. Nancy Snyderman examines the possible
side effects when discontinuing an antidepressant like Paxil and
Zoloft. Chris Wallace confronts a man who was convicted of
trying to get his ex-wife murdered.

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6/20/2000 – Wednesday night 20/20

This Wednesday evening 20/20 will air a show on SSRI side effects. Air time
is 8:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Check local stations for air time and
channel in your local area. Producers for the show have interviewed some of
the members of our group who have suffered serious damage as a result of the
SSRIs. We wish to thank them for their courage in sharing their personal
tragedies in an effort to warn others of the dangers of these drugs.

Also on Wednesday evening I (Ann Blake-Tracy) will be a guest on the Jeff Rense
national radio show. The show will air at 8:00 PM Pacific Time. If he is not
on in your local area I believe you can listen live on the internet at his
site – www.sightings.com. The show I did with Jeff last month is archived on
that site as well if you would like to listen to it.

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

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5/24/2000 – Falling Off Prozac

This appears today on the ABC News website at
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/ssri000524.html

Falling Off Prozac

Doctors and Patients Unaware of Withdrawal Side Effects

By Robin Eisner

N E W Y O R K, May 24 — Tara Calhoun wanted to kill herself.

The then-48-year-old mother of two from Norman, Okla., had
forgotten to take her small dose of Paxil, an antidepressant
prescription medication.

But her suicidal feelings were not a return to symptoms of
depression, her doctor said. Rather, they were withdrawal
symptoms from seven months on a drug that had altered her
brain chemistry.

Calhoun’s reaction to ending her treatment with a serotonin
booster — drugs that increase the neurotransmitter serotonin in
the brain to treat depression, panic disorder and compulsive
behavior — was extreme but not unique.

Up to 85 percent of patients who take these kinds of drugs may
have some type of symptom when they stop, studies say.
Symptoms include balance problems, nausea, flu-like
symptoms, tingling and electric shock sensations, vivid dreams,
nervousness and melancholy.

The problem, doctors now are saying, is that patients and even
other doctors may not be aware that stopping these drugs, which
are among the top 10 best-selling pills in the United States, may
be causing the symptoms. Patients, they say, may unnecessarily
continue taking the drugs after they try to stop because the
symptoms of withdrawal may scare them into thinking they are
still suffering from the bad feelings they had — such as
depression — when they first started taking the drug.

Many doctors and patients also may not know that to end
treatment, levels of the drug should be tapered off while under a
doctor’s care.

The Way to Stop
According to recent research in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,
as many as 70 percent of general practitioners and 30 percent of
psychiatrists do not know about the side effects of ending
serotonin-boosting drugs. Of those who do know, only 20
percent of psychiatrists and 17 percent of general practitioners
caution their patients about the proper way to slowly lower the
levels of these drugs to come off them.

“Getting off these drugs properly is an issue that is
underappreciated,” says Dr. Alexander Bodkin, director of the
clinical psychopharmacology research program at McLean
Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School located in
Belmont, Mass. “These drugs are being prescribed without the
full knowledge of how they should be monitored.”

Pharmaceutical companies place the responsibility of proper
prescribing on the doctor. “The decision about how long a
patient should be on treatment and how treatment should be
stopped is a highly individual one between the physician and
patient,” says Brian Jones, a spokesman for SmithKline
Beecham of Philadelphia, the manufacturer of Paxil.

Lifesavers, But Also Overprescribed
While these serotonin boosters can be life-savers for people
who suffer from severe depression, panic disorder and
obsessive-compulsive illnesses, and could offer help to
thousands of others on a long-term basis, psychiatrists and
doctors acknowledge that not everyone taking them should
necessarily be on them and that stopping might be a problem.

The numbers tell the story. Prozac, manufactured by Eli Lilly &
Co., of Indianapolis, Ind., has been on the market since 1988
and is the third best-selling drug in the country, according to IMS
Healthcare, a healthcare information company in Plymouth
Meeting, Mass. Zoloft, made by Pfizer Inc., of New York City, was
introduced in 1992 and is seventh. Paxil, available since 1993, is
ninth.

But the down side of these popular drugs has only recently been
addressed.”We are only beginning to see concerns about these
drugs like what inevitably happened with other so-called miracle
drugs over time,” says Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a clinical
instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge,
Mass., and author of the recently published book Prozac
Backlash.

“People during last century have wanted to take drugs that will
make them feel better, such as Valium, amphetamines and
cocaine elixirs, but it takes time to see the side effects of these
quick cures,” he says.

Glenmullen says today the serotonin boosters are being
prescribed for more and more moderate conditions, but that they
should be reserved for people who are truly debilitated by their
mental illness.

Once Taken, Forever Stuck?
And once on a drug, Glenmullen says, many people who don’t
really need it for the long haul have trouble getting off. When the
dosage is lowered, he says, it can be difficult to determine
whether it’s the symptoms of the disorder returning or the side
effects of withdrawal.

“If a doctor is unaware of these withdrawal symptoms, they
might put the patient back on the drug or another one and this
can go on for years,” Glenmullen says. Doctors also sometimes
switch patients to other serotonin drugs when these
discontinuation effects occur.

Calhoun’s story about stopping Paxil is cautionary. At the time
she forgot her medication, she had been trying to get off the drug
for six months, after being hospitalized from what she calls the
side effects of the drug — inability to sleep, constant suicidal
thoughts and chemical sensitivity.

Her general practitioner had prescribed Paxil when Calhoun had
told him she was feeling anxious upon losing a job. She worried
about supporting her two children. She says her doctor had not
told her about potential adverse effects of the drug. Nor did he
tell her the appropriate way to stop taking the medication.

Eventually, another doctor, who agreed she was suffering from
serious side and withdrawal effects, gradually lowered her
dosage.

Today, Calhoun has been off the drug for a year and a half, has
two jobs and counsels people getting weaned from serotonin
boosters. “When I felt the suicidal feelings that day I forgot the
drug, I realized that it was not me that was crazy, but…the
changing level of the drug inside my brain,” Calhoun says.

Stopping Serotonin Boosters
Each person will respond differently to stopping serotonin
boosters, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI),
doctors say.

While many people experience no problem stopping the drug,
some people will have side effects from lowering the dosage,
since the brain has become used to certain levels of serotonin.

Medical research indicates that it is easier to get off Prozac than
Paxil. That’s because Prozac lasts longer in the body. So when
dosages are cut back, withdrawal effects are minimized.

Doctors caution no one should stop taking their drug cold turkey
and that use should be tapered off.

“A doctor should communicate with a patient at least once a
month when they are on these drugs,” says Dr. Bruce Bagley,
president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“I tell patients that they may need to be on these drugs for at
least six months to see an improvement, but you must talk to
them to see if conditions in their life have changed to warrant
considering ending the drug treatment.”

SSRIs act by increasing the amount of the neurotransmitter
serotonin available to the brain. Exactly how they work to treat all
the disorders for which they are prescribed is unknown, but
serotonin is a chemical that allows neurons in the brain to
communicate with each other. Over time, the drug changes the
way the neurons respond, according to Jerrold Rosenbaum, a
psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School.

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5/16/2000 – Long-Term Side Effects Surface With SSRIs

The following are excerpts from Clinical Psychiatry News about long-term
adverse effects of SSRIs. They could have learned this YEARS earlier by
reading my book, Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? but at least they are FINALLY
talking about it and as many of you have asked, I thought you would want this
reference.

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

From Clinical Psychiatry News

Long-Term Side Effects Surface With SSRIs

Author: Carl Sherman, Contributing Writer
[Clinical Psychiatry News 26(5):1, 1998. © 1998 International Medical News
Group.]

——————————————————————————

Insomnia, weight gain, sexual dysfunction emerge as problems affecting
compliance.

NEW YORK — Physicians are seeing long-term side effects with selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors far in excess of what was expected from
clinical trial data, Dr. Norman Sussman said at a psychopharmacology update
sponsored by New York University.

If these particular side effects — sleep disturbances, sexual dysfunction,
and weight gain — are problematic for patients, one of the newer non-SSRI
antidepressants may be a better choice, he said. Of course, these drugs have
their own particular side effect profiles.

When SSRIs first appeared a decade ago, their favorable side effect profile
was a key selling point. They were clearly safer and easier to use than
tricyclics and monoamine oxidase inhibitors and, above all, better tolerated
by patients.

But experience has shown that some side effects are more common and
problematic than initially expected, said Dr. Sussman, director of the
psychopharmacology research and consultation service at Bellevue Hospital
Center in New York. . . . adverse effects that persist as long as the patient
takes the medication, such as sexual dysfunction and sleep disturbances. Also
particularly troubling are those, like weight gain, that don’t even develop
until late in treatment. “These are the ones that are not in the insert,
which is based on short-term studies,” Dr. Sussman said.

Significant insomnia affects 15%-20% of patients taking SSRIs, twice the rate
with placebo. Polysomnography has consistently found that these drugs cause
activation during the night: In addition to insomnia, bruxism, sweating, and
periodic limb movement are common. Vivid dreams and nightmares also occur.
With ongoing treatment, increasing numbers of patients report lethargy and
fatigue, he said.

“There are a lot of data showing that people who sleep poorly are more likely
to relapse and that suicide risk is higher,” he said. . . .

Sexual dysfunctions are among the most distressing SSRI side effects.
Decreased libido and delayed or absent orgasm are the best known, but there
are others, such as the “yawning-excitement syndrome.” Patients experience
sexual arousal when they yawn, often progressing to orgasm. “This is probably
underreported. Patients often say, ‘If you hadn’t asked me, I wouldn’t have
mentioned it,'” he said.

Perhaps the most unexpected SSRI-related problem to emerge has been weight
gain, which often begins only after several months of therapy. This side
effect has not been shown to be frequent or severe in controlled studies but
has been reported to occur in 18%-50% of patients in some open-label studies.

Because this runs counter to the image of the drug, many physicians and
patients are unprepared to deal with it. “Some physicians tell patients, ‘I
can’t understand why you’re gaining weight — you’re on an SSRI,'” Dr.
Sussman said.

Greg Keuterman, a spokesman for Eli Lilly & Co., manufacturer of Prozac
(fluoxetine), declined to comment except to point out that “this is anecdotal
evidence.”

“We’re approved by the FDA for long-term treatment of depression,” he added.

Pfizer Inc., the maker of Zoloft (sertraline), and SmithKline Beecham
Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Paxil (paroxetine), did not respond to requests
for comment.

These observations do contrast with what the clinical trials submitted to the
Food and Drug Administration by pharmaceutical companies show, Dr. Sussman
said. It would be nice if these long-term side effects were studied in
clinical trials comparing different antidepressants. . . .

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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/

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My Side Effects from Prozac (Prescribed for Unipolor Depression)

“… more than 10 minutes passed and she whipped out her prescription pad…”

 

Hello,

I’ve just visited your website and have taken advantage of the “email me with your story” area. Thought I should, anyway.

I was on Prozac for unipolar depression in 1994. I stayed on it only for 6 months and weaned myself off it. My brother-in-law is a pharmacist and so I was able to understand the correct way to get off this drug.

I went off it because of what I perceive to be side-effects. Granted, it did perhaps obscure my depression. It didn’t disappear but, it enabled me to stand back and re-evaluate how to tackle it. So in that light, not having a mind that was very negative, I was able to opt for alternative help and a different approach to my depression. Presently, it is very well under control and I’m more cognitive about it than I ever was pre-Prozac.

Having said that, I must report my perceived side-effects. After about 2 weeks on 20 milligrams once a day, I began to feel awfully hyper. I talked a blue streak at work and remember people getting up and sitting elsewhere during breaks. Also, I would just say whatever came into my mind without really evaluating it before speaking as most people do.. (or some, anyhow 🙂 Also, my eyes were weird. I had episodes when my eyes would kind of shake, if you will. Like it does when one watches a home movie and the video shakes. Except they were faster. This happened frequently. I would also salivate a lot, having to swallow often.

To my credit, I realized this was the drug. Also, what made me quite suspicious was the fact that after struggling with depression – rather realizing that was what was wrong with me for about 20 years of my life, I swallowed hard and sought help, insisting to my MD that I WAS actually depressed and that I NEED to see a shrink. I waited for that appointment for approximately 2 months. I went to see her. Upon arriving in her office and giving her a brief profile of myself – no more than 10 minutes passed and she whipped out her prescription pad and wrote me an order for Prozac. I was terribly suspicious. She wasn’t the slightest bit interested in listening to what I had to say or why I felt I should talk to her. That was my red flag.

There you have it.

Kathy Garner

Years 2000 and Prior

This is Survivor Story number 90.
Total number of stories in current database is 96

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