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Re: The verdict on killer drugs

Nov 03, 2004 02:16 AM
by leonmaurer

Beware of gifts from the "Big Buck Pharma" hiding behind the "Bush" -- (that 
we may have to pay for in more ways than one for at least the next 4 years or 
so, no matter who wins this election :-(). Be assured that "Brave New World" 
is here, now. LM

Reprinted from the Daily Dose, 

Prescription for murder?

Much has been made of the risks of antidepressants to our 

adolescents, both in these pages and (finally) in the mainstream 

press. Not to belabor the issue, but much of the focus has been on 

whether or not these drugs cause teenagers to contemplate or 

commit suicide...

But another question is this: How much study is being directed at 

whether or not these poisons cause kids to become violent against 

their fellow man?

A current court case seems poised to blow the debate on this topic 

wide open. It involves a South Carolina youth named Christopher Pittman, 

charged with shot-gunning his grandparents to death in cold blood (then 

setting their house on fire) just weeks after starting on the popular 

prescription antidepressant Zoloft. He was 12 years old at the time.

Before taking the medication, Pittman showed no pattern of 

violence or hostility toward his family or anyone else, according to 

his relatives. And a forensic psychologist retained by Pittman's 

lawyers contends that the murders were definitely triggered by an 

adverse reaction to the drug. Naturally, the drug's maker, Pfizer, 

denies this possibility, and has experts of its own "educating" the 

South Carolina prosecutor whose task it is to prosecute the youth.

Of course, I don't mean to trivialize these deaths, and I'm all for 

the harsh punishment of murderers—regardless of their age. And 

while I don't view any drug use (prescription or otherwise) as an 

excuse for murder, I must wonder: Would this boy have pulled the 

trigger on his guardians if he hadn't been hopped-up on 

psychotropic drugs?

Beyond this, I wonder if there's evidence of a pattern here. I mean, 

has anyone bothered to look into how many other similar crimes 

among young adults — school shootings, parental slayings, 

murderous assaults, and the like — have been committed while 

under the influence of antidepressants? Is there a common thread 

of medication running through the Columbine massacre, the 

Menendez case, and others? 

It's a logical question to ask, especially since among adults, 

aggressive behavior is a noted side-effect of antidepressant drugs. 

In fact, some highly publicized court cases involving crimes of 

violence have been pinned squarely on the makers of these mind-

altering chemicals. In June of 2001, a Wyoming jury ordered 

GlaxoSmithKline to pay $6.5 million to the family of a man who 

murdered his wife, daughter and granddaughter two days after 

starting on their antidepressant Paxil. In light of this kind of 

verdict, is it really so unreasonable to conclude that another in this 

same class of drug might've sent poor Christopher Pittman over 

the edge? 

In my opinion, not at all. But such things need to be studied — 

thoroughly and objectively — while sales of these drugs are halted 

in the meantime.

As disturbing as the thought may be that medicated kids might kill 

themselves or go on murderous rampages at any moment, it's even 

more disturbing to learn that these kinds of behaviors may not be 

triggered ONLY by drugs aimed at treating those who are 

depressed or otherwise in a bad way mentally. 

Pimple screams

Led by a Michigan Congressman whose son committed suicide 

while taking the drug, a bi-partisan group of four lawmakers is 

taking the FDA to task about the mental health side-effects of the 

prescription drug Accutane. What's this medication for, you ask? 

Depression? Bi-polar disorder? Nope...

It's for acne.

That's right. A 20-year-old acne medicine that millions of 

American kids are no doubt taking every day has been linked to a 

stunning array of negative psychiatric conditions including suicide, 

depression, psychosis, violent and aggressive behaviors, mood 

swings, emotional instability, paranoia, and changes in personality.

Kind of makes you wonder what other "harmless" drugs out there 

could turn you (or your grandchild) into a psychopath or suicide 

victim, doesn't it? 

According to a recent Associated Press article, the band of 

concerned Congressmen I mentioned before have called upon 

Tommy Thompson, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, 

to force the FDA to pull Accutane from shelves until more 

research has been conducted on these adverse affects on our 

nation's adolescents.

Will it happen? Not a chance, if the current trend of the FDA to 

fiercely protect drug makers from even the slightest loss of profit is 

any indication. 

What about loss of life — from acne medication, antidepressants, 

or what have you?

To the FDA and drug makers, that's just part of the cost of doing 


Murderin' mad about deadly drug deceptions,

William Campbell Douglass II, MD

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