Brennan McCartney; 4 days on Cipralex/Lexapro

Last Saturday, May 5th, a Canadian tv channel aired a documentary which partly concerned the story of Brennan McCartney. His story is at 7 minutes on this Youtube video.

Brennan McCartney was 18 years old when he went to the doctor complaining of a chest cold. He was also in the middle of breaking up with his girlfriend. He was given a prescription for his chest cold. He also came home with a sample pack of Lundbeck’s Cipralex, also known as Lexapro.

4 days after starting Cipralex he began to show signs of agitation. He drove down to the local store where he bought some rope. He hanged himself in a local park.

The family sought out a psychologist, Leslie Balmer, to review Brennan’s case. She concluded that there was nothing to suggest that he was sad or having a tough time. There was no ‘red flags’.

Psychiatrist Roger McIntyre said he has seen these effects with antidepressants first hand; “They report to us, within the first few weeks, a worsening of their distress, they report agitation, in many cases irritability they didn’t have before.”

Brennan’s parents (just like us) believe that Cipralex caused Brennan to commit suicide. Brennan’s mum Nancy, said “it is important to note that Brennan had no history of mental health issues.  He had no substance abuse concerns and was not clinically depressed.” Lundbeck again said that there is ‘no evidence’ that their drug increases the risks of suicide. LIARS!

Professor David Healy looked at Brennan’s case. He said “It seemed to be a very clear cut case. This was a young man, who if he hadn’t been put on the antidepressant that he was put on, wouldn’t have gone on to commit suicide.”

How many more Lundbeck victims will there be before this drug is investigated? Why are the FDA and the EMA not doing their job? What are they regulating? The pharma money? I won’t even bother mentioning the useless (Pharma funded) Irish Medicines Board.

What about all the Coroner’s who have expressed concerns about celexa (found in a Brussles Court to be the same as Cipralex): Magistrate Jacqueline M. Milledge, Aus, Coroner Ian Smith Cumbria, U.K, Birmingham coroner Aiden Cotter U.K, Brecon coroner Geraint Williams, and our own ex-pathologist Declan Gilsenan.

……………………………………………………………………

Some more information relating to Lundbeck’s suicidal drugs….

https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/lundbecks-hall-of-shame/

https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/lundbeck-under-investigation-again/

https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/irishman62-hanged-himself-after-5-days-on-lexapro/

https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/no-no-no-lundbecks-suicide-drug-trial-on-kids/

https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/would-you-trust-lundbeck-to-medicate-your-child/

https://leoniefennell.wordpress.com/2010/12/29/what-lundbeck-says-at-inquests-of-people-that-used-their-drugs/

In October 2011, a Brussels court held that Cipralex was the same product as celexa under Articles 3(c)-(d) of the SPC-Regulation.


27 thoughts on “Brennan McCartney; 4 days on Cipralex/Lexapro

  1. Thank you. It is also important to note that Brennan had no history of mental health issues. He had no substance abuse concerns and was not clinically depressed.

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    1. Hi Nancy,
      I’m so very sorry for your family and for Brennan. I’m so very sorry that you had the misfortune to find yourself involved with Lundbeck. Brennan was such a handsome young man, what a waste of a lovely human being. I will e-mail you in a while as the comment section is limited.
      I will add that bit into the post. I realised that he wasn’t depressed by viewing the documentary;he should never have been prescribed this poison. The doctor said he had 50 people on this drug who were doing fine….does that mean our children had a 50 to 1 chance of becoming suicidal, so just unlucky then?
      Much love and respect to you for telling Brennan’s story,
      Leonie

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  2. “Lundbeck again said that there is ‘no evidence’ that their drug increases the risks of suicide.”

    They carry suicide warnings on their patient information leaflets, right?

    How can they orally deny there is a link yet, in print, admit there is a link?

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    1. Yes Bobby,
      Here is two instances where Lundbeck have admitted that Cipralex/Lexapro and Celexa/Cipramil can cause a person to commit suicide…

      At Charmaine Dragun’s Inquest in Australia, Dr Deborah Pelser from Lundbeck Australia was asked whether Lexapro could have something to do with the symptoms exhibited by Ms Dragun the day she committed suicide, and asked if they could have something to do with that drug. She said; “Most certainly, it is in the product information, so yes it is possible”.

      Yvonne Woodley’s Inquest:
      AC: (Coroner) Do you believe that citalopram can cause somebody who would not otherwise take their own life to do so?
      CM (Lundbeck Doctor): Yes. http://davidhealy.org/model-doctors

      Then there is the ‘healthcare professional’ letter warning of self-harm and harm to others…http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/medeff/advisories-avis/prof/_2004/celexa_hpc-cps-eng.php

      This perfect 18 year-old was just another victim of Lundbeck’s greed.
      Leonie

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      1. The leaflet that came with the sample pack was two versions out of date (June 2009). It mentioned agitation and thoughts of self harm. Nowhere did it say SUICIDE as a risk. The version that was in print but was not made available to us clearly states Cipralex should not be given to youth under the age of 18 because of a “significantly increased risk of suicide”. (May 2010) Bren was 18 years and 3 months old. The US package advises against giving it to anyone under the age of 24.

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  3. Why are the Drs not behaving responsibly and warning their patients that this could happen and if it does happen to them , to stop it immediately??? God help us all, they are all brainwashed! I think they could use some of their own medication! Very sorry for both of your losses!

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    1. Doctors should never be giving out this medications as the first line of intervention. Brennan went for a chest cold and came home with a free package of Cipralex. It cost him his life. All of that based on one twenty-five minute conversation….

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  4. Good point AEG! By not telling patient that these drugs can have the effect that they do this is like handing someone a time bomb that could go off at any moment without mentioning :” if it starts ticking, throw it out the window immediately.” They NEED to know that if they show any signs of agitation to immediately stop the drug, and if they have such a reaction they need to know that it’s from the drug not from something organic! And I don’t think they should be handing out these time bombs to begin with! See http://www.ssristories.com

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  5. Doctors don’t know enough about pharmaceuticals and/or adverse reactions or mental health to be diagnosing depressive disorders and most of them panic or bury their heads in the sand when presented with a problem. At least that was my experience.

    About 18 months ago I was suffering from a series of loose symptoms – oversleeping followed by insomnia, low energy, dizziness, palpitations, tremors. I thought it was caused by stress however my doctor in his infinite wisdom and based on limited knowledge of me or my life decided that it was my personality or something in my past and sent me to a therapist.

    I was put under more stress by having to go through every negative life experience I had ever had in order to get to the bottom of my symptoms which got progressively worse. I was giving sleeping pills which didn’t seem to help so I was then given benzodiazepines. These made me very agitated and gave me horrendous nightmares so I was given an antidepressant. After about 5 days I lost my appetite and could not stop moving. I reported to this to my doctor who told me that it was just a side effect and would go away. It got worse. I lost a stone in weight in two weeks and couldn’t sit or stand still. The side effects were so bad that I felt like throwing myself out of a window. I wanted to stop the drugs but I was told it wasn’t safe. My doctor seemed completely at a loss as to what to do and at one point I asked him if I should go to a mental hospital. I changed doctors and when I told my new doctor that I felt like I wanted to throw myself out of the window she rapidly tapered me off the antidepressant. At this point I had been taking the sleeping pills for more than a month and was sleeping less than I had before taking them (about 2 hours a night). I was a physical and emotional wreck. I stopped the sleeping pills a week after stopping the antidepressants.

    The withdrawal symptoms from the combination of both drugs were severe, horrendous and lasted for at least 3 months leaving me virtually housebound, I was told they would last a few weeks at the most. I still didn’t feel right. I had severe balance issues caused by the drugs and was given medication for Meniere’s disease and referred to an ENT consultant. I was sent for an MRI brain scan. This came back clear. My symptoms didn’t go away, severe fatigue, cold and I had started to gain weight without eating any more. I still also had digestive problems and bouts of anxiety. My new doctor suggested I was depressed to which I responded that if I was it was only because I felt so ill and could not understand the reason. I was referred to a neurologist.

    After I had initially stopped the drugs my new doctor ordered blood tests and my thyroid was shown to be slightly underactive but not sufficient to have caused my initial symptoms. I asked her if the drugs could have effected the result and she said it was a possibility. So after the ENT, Neurologist and Colonoscopy referrals for my various symptoms my thyroid was retested 6 months later and I was diagnosed as Hypothyroid. I have been on thyroid medication for less than a month and feel better than I have in about two years.

    I have since done a lot of research and apparently thyroid disorders are commonly misdiagnosed as mental health disorders and are made worse by stress. So what I don’t understand is if a) thyroid disorders commonly present with similar symptoms as anxiety and depression and b) a simple blood test will eliminate this possibility why do doctors jump to the conclusion of mental health issues and therefore putting the patient under further stress without investigating any potential physical causes first?

    In my case I wouldn’t have lost my job, a lot of my savings and a year of my life not to mention the strain it has put on my relationships. I realise that this pales into insignificance compared to the losses others have suffered but it is hard not to feel resentful and angry about what has happened.

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  6. In the founding mythos of our civilisation, the most dreaded destructive stereotype was a three-headed co-dependent gorgon called Medusa. She?! could only be assuaged by male and female reflection and collaboration and natural justice. Moreover all three had to be taken on at one and the same time and this happened with Perseus. The modern equiv has got to be Big Pharma/Gov/Medicine. If this is true, strategically for a start targetting one without the other two, simply wont work. The bad news is that this needs much more resources…the good news is that the target is larger!?

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    1. Despite the Irish College of Psychiatry still denying that SSRI’s can cause suicide, the information has been around for a long time. The warnings (not that you’d know it) were upped from age 18 to age 25 in Europe due to the increased risk of suicide with these drugs.
      So how can the body entrusted with the protection of people suffering with mental health issues continue to lie to the Irish public and how many people have died because this idiotic bunch of ??? deny that the drugs can cause the problem?

      September 2008 Irish Medicines Board newsletter….http://www.imb.ie/images/uploaded/documents/DSN%20-%20Final%20-%20September2008.pdf

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  7. I agree Leonie, it is simply astounding how the Irish college of Psychiatry have the audacity to state that anti-depressants do not cause suicide, when quite evidently they can for some individuals. If they were, even at least, open to the possibility, it would make them far more credible as an organization, but their denials are wearing thin at this stage.

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  8. There is a small subset of people who react very, very strongly to serotonergics. These are the people who had horrific LSD trips, and they have horrific SSRI trips, too. From reports on my Web site, http://survivingantidepressants.org , for this group it seems it takes about 4 days on an SSRI for it to go very, very wrong. Even after quitting the medication, in this group symptoms of nervous system damage identical to withdrawal syndrome can last for years.

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  9. Horrific is the only way to describe it. I was only on these drugs for only 3 1/2 weeks but the side effects lasted for months. They effected my vision, my balance, my hormones, my nervous system, my digestion, it was two months before I could sit down to eat due to the agitation, the list goes on and on. Had I been warned about the possibility of an adverse reaction I wouldn’t have touched them.

    Like Brennan McCartney I had no history of mental illness and my previous experience of medication was limited to paracetamol and antibiotics. I would imagine that were I 20 instead of 40 I may not have had enough life experience to resist the urge to end the overwhelming assault on my senses the drugs caused. As it is I feel like I had a very narrow escape and am genuinely grateful to still be alive.

    I certainly now feel that prescribing practices need to be reviewed and that there needs to be some kind of body set up to deal with these issues. I contacted the Irish Medicines Board to report the adverse reaction but they were of little help. Most of the information that I have managed to glean about what happened to me I have found on websites like this.

    Leonie, as I’ve said before what you are doing is a real service and hopefully more people will become aware of the risks involved in taking these drugs. In the circumstances it is heroic given that it won’t bring your son back or any of the many others whose lives have been taken as a result but it may mean earlier intervention and recognition of adverse reactions by doctors so that more lives are not needlessly lost.

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  10. Some of us are sharing our tragedies as a warning for others. I often wonder how many of these deaths are kept quiet. The problem is that these deaths are happening all over the world and the drug companies have the resources to keep these deaths quiet also. Lundbeck needs to be held accountable.

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  11. First off, let me give my condolences to Brennan’s family. From the pictures, he seems like he was a really cool dude, and the world just lost someone special. I’ve also been through what Brennan’s hell and back. Second, I wouldn’t put the blame on the drug itself, but more on the medical practitioner who prescribed the drug. What was the family doctor doing? I held off on a while before commenting and to dissect the information I read, and I suspect the doctor thought this drug was a quick-fix drug because Brennan probably mentioned he was feeling down due to his break-up.

    Let me put this in caps and give it its own line: SSRIs ARE NOT A QUICK FIX.

    I’ve been on Cipralex since mid-October and this stuff works, SO LONG as you use it for the long term. My psychiatrist (not family doctor) prepared me for all the initial side effects and when I reported back to him a week later, they were all in the extreme cases. I’m a psychology honours student with a concentration in health psychology and in research methods, this “extreme” is usually in the 5% chance that it can happen. (So the company was actually shooting itself in the foot when someone said it was 1 out of 50.) My psychiatrist also eased me into it, too, starting me off at 5mg, then 10mg, and I’ve been on 20mg for quite a while now. Yes, the side effect did include suicidal thoughts, but luckily, I knew it was the drug talking and ignored it as best I can.

    There were so many times I wanted to get off this drug because of these side effects, and I’m so glad I didn’t. Getting off SSRIs cold turkey would only make things worse, and anybody thinking of doing so should notify their doctor as soon as possible, or try to ease themselves off until they can do so (from 20mg to 15mg, to 10mg, etc).

    I think people are quick to jump the gun just as quick as this particular doctor was prescribing these meds. I was really surprised that a family doctor was able to hand these things out like candy, so I was even more surprised! What I’m not surprised is how the pharmaceutical companies are promoting these drugs, but that’s another story for another time.

    If anybody has any further questions, feel free to ask. I’ve also recently started up my own blog where I document my own experiences with depression so that people can understand this disease more in depth and another case like Brennan’s doesn’t happen again.

    http://288theabe.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thank you for your reply. I suspect you have expressed an opinion which is shared by others. I agree with your statement that the doctor made a huge mistake. Brennan was not depressed but he was sad and there is a tremendous difference. He should never have been handed a sample package like a piece of candy. I consider that practice to be unethical as we all know that the practice of sample packages is in place solely for marketing and profit purposes.
      The sample package that Brennan received had an outdated warning which states “thoughts of self harm”. (June 2009) Really, what does that mean? The product Monograph that was available and published in May 2010 (6 months before Brennan’s death) clearly states “Cipralex should not be used in adolescents under the age of 18. Also you should know that patients under the age of 18 have an increased risk of side effects such as suicide attempts, suicidal thoughts and hostility”. Brennan was 18 years and 3 months young when he died. We did not see that warning and we believe that Brennan did not receive informed consent. In the US the same warning is in place for adults under the age of 24 years. As a psychology major myself I do not consider myself an expert by any means. I do know that brain development research indicates that the frontal lobe is not fully mature until about 25 years of age. The frontal lobe is pivitol for executive functioning such as reasoning and impulse control. So, you are 18 and given a drug known to cause suicidal thoughts. How do you process that information if you have no idea what is going on?
      Lundbeck knows that their product can cause suicide. During a Coroner’s inquest in Birmingham Dr. Muldoon from Lundbeck UK was asked under oath ” Do you believe that citalopram can cause somebody who would not otherwise take their life to do so? He answered, “yes”. They have also done some research which has shown that
      “normal healthy volunteers” have become suicidal on SSRIs.
      You have quoted the statistic of 5% having suicidal thoughts. Knowing that some of those people will become overpowered by those thoughts do you think that is acceptable risk? If a car model was found to have 5% of them with faulty breaks would they keep manufacturing them and keep them on the road? I do hold the
      drug company accountable for my son’s death.

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      1. I agree with you Nancy. The doctors are ill-informed but Lundbeck are well aware that their drug can cause suicide. Pity the dead can’t speak out. I absolutely hold Lundbeck responsible. They waffle on about their pharmacovigilence department and allow people to die while doing so.
        There is very little warning in Ireland about what these drugs can do. The Irish Medicines Board who are supposed to protect Irish people against poisonous products are almost fully funded by the Pharmaceutical industry. The Government have now been informed so we’ll have to wait and see how many people are allowed to die before they get up off their backsides and act on the information.
        We never offered our children up for collateral damage but we weren’t given a choice. In the meantime Lundbeck’s pharmacovigilence department is still waffling away to anyone who will listen. Although, even the Danes don’t seem to have much time for Lundbeck, as there was a demonstration outside their Valby offices last week, due to their denials of heart problems and deaths caused by the same drug.
        Leonie

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  12. my brother in law commited suicide 18 days after he was prescribed lexapro. he had never had any thoughts of hurting himself. the morning he died he had went back to bed and sometime later he got up and took a shotgun with number 2 birdshot and shot himself in the chest.my sister in law feels guilty because he did it. and i have read several things about lexapro and people taking it and committing sucide when they have taken it. and they have done it within several days after they was prescribed it. why doesnt the goverment or who ever look into this medicene

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