Meet Larry, 63. Larry underwent a ‘triple bypass’ operation last Christmas, which involved spending 26 days in the Mater hospital, Dublin. Open heart surgery is known to be a very serious procedure; not least because the sternum (which is opened during surgery) can take up to 12 weeks to heal. Cardiologists acknowledge that Heart surgery is life-changing, both physically and emotionally.
Larry was a good guy, the eldest of six. He was relaxed, funny, and easy-going, with a wife whom he knew since they were teenagers. He had 4 children and 7 grandchildren who adored him. Following Larry’s triple bypass, as is common following big operations, he started to feel a little down. He was prescribed an antidepressant Lexapro (Lundbeck’s poison and the same drug Shane was prescribed). He took Lexapro as prescribed for about a week. He told his son that his head felt like it was exploding, that it wasn’t in sync with the rest of him and that he was ‘all over the place’.
Larry went back to the doctor and his medication was changed, this time to a newer antidepressant, Valdoxan (AKA Agomelatine, manufactured by Servier) and the Benzodiazepine Xanax, another potentially dangerous drug. Larry was prescribed this drug despite recent reports that Valdoxan is associated with serious hepatotoxicity (liver damage) and that caution is advised when prescribing for overweight/obese patients. I’m sure Larry wouldn’t mind me saying that he was more like Pavarotti than Rudolf Nureyev. Either way, I’m not quite sure why any medical professional would prescribe this drug considering the doubts surrounding its efficacy and the possible dangerous adverse effects. Warning here.
According to Larry’s family, following the later prescription for Valdoxan and Xanax, he became manic, unable to function; the simplest of tasks became mammoth. He behaved bizzarely, for example: he wouldn’t allow his wife out of his sight, insisted on holding her hand at all times, seemingly afraid to let go. This was totally out of character for the usually easy-going Larry. As usual, this change was put down to the after effects and trauma of this huge operation, not the mind-altering drugs which are prescribed to unsuspecting patients, including Larry.
On 27th Febuary 2013, Larry took a rope into the garage of his old family home and less than the required 12 weeks it took for his sternum to heal, this easy going 63 year-old man was dead.
There are 2,370 suicides and 1,539 Cardiac arrests reported as a drug- reaction (of Xanax) in the RxISK website. Valdoxan (Agomelatine) is not on the RxISK website because it is not approved by the FDA in America. This drug has been called ineffective, potentially dangerous and ‘a dog’ and had 3 (acknowledged) suicides in clinical trials, before it was even approved. For more of Valdoxan’s dodgy trials and other dodgy dealings with this IMB approved drug, retired psychiatrist and scientist ‘1 Boring Old Man’ explains it here.
The Valdoxan patient information leaflet (PIL) has the usual IMB inadequate suicide warning, although directed at under 25s:
A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled clinical trials of antidepressants in adult patients with psychiatric disorders showed an increased risk of suicidal behaviour with antidepressants compared to placebo, in patients less than 25 years old. Close supervision of patients and in particular those at high risk should accompany treatment especially in early treatment and following dose changes. Patients (and caregivers of patients) should be alerted to the need to monitor for any clinical worsening, suicidal behaviour or thoughts and unusual changes in behaviour and to seek medical advice immediately if these symptoms present.
The fact that the so-called psychiatric ‘experts’ in Ireland deny that these drugs can cause suicide, arguably negates the above warning. Even though Larry was aware of Shane’s case and the role that antidepressants played, he, like most people, trusted that the medical professionals knew better.