March 8, 2011
Not only may the drugs meant to cure your depression actually drive you to suicide, but these dangerous and addictive drugs may be behind the Columbine shooting—and dozens of others. Ask the FDA to warn the public that SSRIs may make people commit violence against others! Our new Action Alert has the details.
In another article in this issue, we told you about the black box notice on antidepressant drugs warning that young people may want to kill themselves when first taking these FDA-approved medications. But there is also a shocking risk of increased violence to others, as noted by medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Whitaker.
A review of FDA’s Adverse Event reports “identified 31 drugs responsible for most of the FDA case reports of violence toward others, with antidepressants near the top of that list.” Time magazine posted an article entitled “Top Ten Legal Drugs Linked to Violence” in which five of the top ten are SSRI antidepressants: fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), fluvoxamine (Luvox), venlafaxine (Effexor), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq).
Julian Whitaker, MD, founder of the Whitaker Wellness Institute and a thirty-year practitioner of alternative medicine, notes that the FDA does not include violent behavior on its black box warning labels because they are “blinded by their incestuous relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.”
Elsewhere, Dr. Whitaker discusses the common thread between the Columbine High School shooters, spree shootings at a community center in Los Angeles, two brokerage firms in Atlanta, and a printing plant in Kentucky: SSRI antidepressants. Every one of those shootings was perpetrated by people taking Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil, or a related antidepressant drug. The medical records of Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and injured fourteen others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, have not been released. What is clear is that he suffered from depression and had a sudden and dramatic change in personality around 2006. His behavior on January 8 is frighteningly similar to many who take SSRIs.
The website SSRIstories.com has compiled a jaw-dropping list of school shootings, spree killings, murder attempts, and other violent actions, together with the particular antidepressant medication the perpetrator was using (or had just withdrawn from). In 2006, the peer-reviewed journal PloS Medicine published an article outlining a series of medico-legal cases involving antidepressants and violence. They note that many of the court cases appear not to have considered the possibility that a prescription drug may induce violence.
Dr. Peter Breggan published a study in Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry discussing the risk of antidepressant-induced suicide, violence, and mania in our military personnel.
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare investigated reports about antidepressant users “who developed increased feelings of hostility or anxiety, and have even committed sudden acts of violence against others.” After its investigation, the Ministry decided to revise the label warnings on SSRIs, stating, “There are cases where we cannot rule out a causal relationship [of such acts of violence] with the medication.”
And then there’s the tragic case of a UK teenager who bludgeoned his father to death with a hammer and crowbar and stabbed his mother in the face with scissors mere weeks after a doctor put him on Prozac. Describing his mental state that led to the attack, he told a psychiatrist, “I didn’t feel real.”
How many episodes of this kind did we read about before the advent of SSRIs—and how many are we reading about now?
Please write to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the FDA Commissioner. Ask her agency to expand the current black box warning on antidepressants to include the danger of violent actions toward other people, in addition to the current suicide warning. In weeks to come, we will be filing a formal Citizen Petition with the FDA which asks for the same thing, but we want there to be a groundswell of public opinion first, to lay the groundwork for our Petition when it is ready. Please take action TODAY!