5/24/2000 – Antidepressants-Suicide Link

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Antidepressants-Suicide Link
Harvard Psychiatrist: Studies Needed

The Associated Press
B O S T O N, May 15 — Dr. Jonathan O. Cole, a Harvard
psychiatrist who has suggested a link between antidepressants
like Prozac and suicide, says drug manufacturers and the
federal government haven’t adequately investigated the problem.

In the decade since Cole and Harvard colleagues first reported
on early cases of extreme agitation among people taking Prozac
and related antidepressants, use of these drugs — called
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs — has reached
84 million prescriptions a year, according to The Boston Globe.

No one has done the large-scale studies necessary to pin down
the frequency of SSRI-related suicides, Cole said in a document
filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City in support of a lawsuit
brought by the family of Matthew Miller, a Missouri teenager.

Miller, 13, had been taking Zoloft, a chemical cousin of Prozac,
for only a week when he hanged himself in his bedroom closet
July 28, 1997.

Adequate Evidence of a Link
Dr. David Healy, a British researcher who is the family’s chief
expert witness, said there is adequate evidence that Zoloft
caused the youth to commit suicide.
However lawyers for Pfizer Inc., maker of Zoloft, said there is no
credible scientific evidence that Zoloft and related drugs
precipitate suicide.

Dr. Anthony J. Rothschild of the University of Massachusetts
Medical School said he thinks drug manufacturers, specifically
Eli Lilly and Co., Prozac’s maker and the FDA have adequately
addressed their critics’ concerns.

“The thing that disturbs me” about current SSRI critics,
Rothschild said, “is the tone that suggests there’s almost a
conspiracy to cover up information, and not do the right studies.”

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