lundbeck, psychiatry, Shanes story.

Doctors – SSRI antidepressants can be fatal in overdose!

The “newer” SSRI antidepressants were sold to doctors by deception. Lundbeck and the other SSRI manufacturers sold these newer antidepressants to doctors based on fraudulent marketing. The doctors and the medicines regulators were told that these drugs were safer and it was almost impossible to fatally overdose on these new wonder drugs! (By the way Lundbeck, I am accusing you of fraud, if I am lying you must surely be sending me a solicitors letter.)

Shane received a prescription from Dr. McManus in the Carlton Clinic in Bray for a months supply 20mgs of Citalopram, then took them all after the 5th day. On the 7th day he got another prescription for 10mgs from Dr. Buys in the Ashford Clinic in Ashford and took them as prescribed until he killed himself on the 17th day.

Bearing in mind this dubious medication also come in a 40mgs and 60mg dosage, Shane had a “toxic to lethal” level of Citalopram in his system when he died. Does this sound like a safe medication to you?

I cannot understand why the Irish Medicines Board do not have a warning attached to this medication or indeed maybe it is a case that they are unaware and believe the drug company spiel…either way, it makes them IDIOTS because they are allowing this to happen to other poor unsuspecting members of the public.

I put this question to Dr. Madsen and Mr. Schroll at our meeting in the Lundbeck headquarters in Copenhagen. I cannot blog the recording just yet but here is the transcript of this particular question and their answer….

Partial Transcript…

Leonie                 Would you tell the Irish Medicines Board that a month’s supply of tablets is too much to give to somebody because if you’re, if you’re depressed the first thing that some people will do is take them all together which can be fatal.  Now that just doesn’t make sense to me.  Would you tell that to the Irish Medicines Board?

Mr. Schroll                If, if, if, if,

Leonie                       Have you?  Would you?

Mr. Schroll                If there was a situation

Leonie                       That has been a situation, there’s been my son’s situation.

Mr. Schroll                Sorry, but please, eh, eh, make understand …to you, we cannot comment on your specific son

Leonie                       I’m talking about anybody’s son, anybody’s daughter, you can kill yourself on a month’s supply of tablets?

Mr. Schroll                If, we come in and see that there eh, eh, there are eh, safety events where people commit suicide and there is a link to our product or the way it is treated, all the events, yes then we contact the authorities.

Leonie                       So did you? I’m asking you.

Mr. Schroll                In this specific case eh, you know the outcome of the coroner’s inquest and our physician will have seen that and of course we, we, we are still focusing on that and we cannot go into more details about this specific case and …..

Leonie                       Well..ok, say if I’m not talking about Shane, say if I’m talking about somebody’s daughter who has gone on to kill themselves with a month’s supply of tablets, have you told the Irish Medicines Board that you can kill yourself with a month’s supply of tablets, it’s very simple.

Dr. Madsen               Again, the safety, if you are referring to an incident where somebody

Leonie                       No, I’m not referring to anybody, I’m talking about in the future

Mr. Scroll                  What, what we do is, we are on this casual basis sending adverse events updates to the authorities, so they get an overview of all the different incidents that come in.

Leonie                       You’re still not answering my question.

Mr. Schroll                No, no but, but, so. so based on that, that can be your son, that can other reports, they come in and they give that statement and then they ….they go back and say ok here we can see that there is a need for changing eh, your, your, your, eh ……

Leonie                       Do the Irish Medicines Board know that you can kill yourself with a month’s supply of Citalopram and Escitalopram?

Dr. Madsen               We can’t answer on behalf of the Irish Medicines Board.

Leonie                       Well, you can answer because you’re the one who sends them all the information, you just told me that. You’re the one that gives them the information.

Tony                          There’s a flat text

Dr. Madsen               The question you are asking is “do they know”?

Leonie                       Do they know if they can kill themselves.  You are supposed to give them the, all the information. So do they know?

Dr. Madsen               All information on serious cases is forwarded to the appropriate bodies….

Leonie                       So they do know that you can kill yourself with a month’s supply of tablets obviously?

Dr. Madsen               They know of the individual cases and they are, all cases are adjudicated

Leonie                       I’m not talking about deaths. I’m talking about deaths tomorrow.  Do they know, did you tell them that you can kill yourself, it is possible to kill yourself with a month’s supply of Citalopram and Escitalopram?

Dr. Madsen               You have to ask specifically to the Irish Medicines Board

Leonie                       No, I’m asking you, did you tell them that?  Do they know that?  Because did you, did you forward on the information?

Dr. Madsen               They have, part of the information you had in this information about, with lower doses… it’s something that the, that if there are lower doses reported then that is also sent in and it is also reflected in the leaflet.

Leonie                       So they do know?

Mr. Schroll                So they have all the information but you, but, but, but, but, but, but I think what is different is

Leonie                       Are you going to answer that one, no?

Dr. ,Madsen             Sorry? I’m not going to answer to, I do not answer to what the Irish Medicines Board know or don’t know because I don’t think that would be fair

Leonie                       Ok, did you tell the, what about the FDA?

Dr. Madsen               They have received the information which, if you’re talking about overdose

Leonie                       Overdose, that what I’m taking about, can you kill yourself with an overdose of Escitalopram and Citalopram?

Dr. Madsen               Overdose eh, so many,..  for suicidal intent take a large number of ….

Leonie                       Can you kill yourself with a month’s supply of Escitalopram and Citalopram?  It’s very simple, yes or no?

Dr. Madsen               Are you asking me?

Leonie                       Well I’m looking at you so yes, I’m asking you.

Dr. Madsen               Last time you were asking me what the Irish Medicines Board….

Leonie                       Well you weren’t going to answer that one, so…

Tony                           You wouldn’t answer that

Dr. Madsen               Are there any reported deaths?

Leonie                       No.  I’m asking you, you’re the Doctor. Can you kill yourself with a month’s supply of tablets?

Dr. Madsen               Yes…I’m thinking, I’m trying to add up how milligrams of Escitalopram

Leonie                       Well Shane was on 20mg – so there you go.  I already know the answer but I’m asking you.

Dr. Madsen               I’m not going to answer. I, eh, it seems that…

Leonie                       You’re not going to, that’s ok

Dr. Madsen               that the

Leonie                       OK, fine! Do you know that David Healy brought detailed information on the risks of suicidality linked to SSRIs to Lundbeck in 1999, ten years before my son died?  The company’s response was to lock the material away. Is this the approach of a  company that is concerned about patients?

4 thoughts on “Doctors – SSRI antidepressants can be fatal in overdose!”

  1. Being Privy to this recording I greatly admire both you and Tony for going in front of Lundbeck. It’s very interesting to listen to the way Lundbeck play the game of deflection, almost politician like. You’d make a great lawyer Leonie. Your cross-examination skills are really quite excellent.

    Much love to you both. I salute you.


  2. The newer atypical SSRI antidepressants were marketed as being safer and more effective than the older typical tricyclic antidepressants (which also acted on the serotonin neurotransmitters). As it turns out the older tricyclics didn’t have as many suicides associated with them so the newer SSRIs are not safer in that respect.

    As far as being lethal in overdose, I don’t know. SSRIs were promoted as being more difficult to overdose on. That is probably a crock too because most of their claims have been lies. I would like to see the studies which show that the newer pills are less dangerous in overdose than the older ones. How could you even ethically conduct such a study? You would have to go by clinical observation and there is no evidence that I am aware of.

    You would make a good investigative journalist, Leonie. You don’t take “I don’t know” for an answer. It’s like trying to shake loose a little terrier that has a hold on your pants leg.


  3. Dr Mardsen should try these SSRI’s himself, if they are so safe, then why doesn’t he give them a go?…

    I bet he wouldn’t enjoy the nausea, akathisia, sweats and bowel movements too much…


  4. Even when they have warnings they are couched in ambivalent language to avoid liability…’some people’…’may experience’…

    The warnings in the pack insert don’t contain the full list of side effects that doctors receive in the Summary of Product Characteristics produced by the Medicines Board as they are “required to be prescribed in an abbreviated and easy-to-read format and content.” (this is a direct quote from the IMB).

    i.e. the fact that this has the potential to kill you is too complicated a concept for the general public to understand so we don’t put it on the pack insert


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