St. Louis jury hears nation’s first suit claiming Zoloft caused birth defects — (St Louis Post-Dispatch)

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St Louis Post-Dispatch

By Samantha Liss

April 9, 2015

St. Louis jury hears nation’s first suit claiming Zoloft caused birth defects : Business

A St. Louis jury began hearing arguments Thursday in a lawsuit that claimed the popular antidepressant Zoloft caused birth defects in a California boy. The lawsuit is the first of its kind to make it to trial.

There are similar suits across the country in both state and federal courts alleging that when Zoloft is taken during pregnancy it causes birth defects. None of those lawsuits have yet been heard by a jury.

New York-based Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, denies a link between the drug and birth defects.

Logyn Pesante was born with multiple heart defects, the most serious being transposition of the great arteries, also known as TGA, in which the two main arteries of the heart are in the wrong place. Since his birth Logyn has undergone 25 procedures and six operations and has a pacemaker.

His mother, Kristyn Pesante, took Zoloft during the first trimester of her pregnancy, according to the statements Thursday made before Circuit Court Judge Margaret Neill.

In opening statements Thursday, Pesante’s attorney Joseph Zonies of the Colorado law firm Reilly Pozner LLP, argued that Pfizer did not do enough to warn doctors about the potential risks of birth defects when taking Zoloft during pregnancy.

He claimed internal Pfizer documents highlighted the potential risks of birth defects but that information was not included on the label seen by doctors. He alleges the label did little to mention the potential for defects.

Once Zoloft hit the market after its approval for use in 1991, adverse events were reported by patients that included birth defects and fetal deaths, Zonies said during trial. But even then, he alleged Pfizer did not change its label or communicate to physicians when it learned of the adverse events.

“What would a reasonable drug company do?” Zonies asked, alleging the company did not do enough.

Attorneys for Pfizer argued that there is no evidence to prove Zoloft causes birth defects.

“No treating physician or medical records say Zoloft is a cause,” of Logyn’s condition, said Beth Wilkinson, attorney and partner with Washington, D.C., firm Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP.

Wilkinson said the label does not need to reflect the risk of birth defects because “the science never suggested that there were birth defects caused by Zoloft.”

As the drug became widely available and sales increased there was no increased rate of malformations, or birth defects, Wilkinson said.

That wasn’t the case when the now notorious drug Thalidomide hit the market in the late 1950s. The drug was developed to combat morning sickness but caused severe birth defects in children.

As Thalidomide sales increased, Wilkinson showed during a courtroom presentation, so did the rate of malformations. That’s not the case with Zoloft, she claimed.

In a press release, Pfizer also pointed to a 2011 safety announcement by the Food and Drug Administration that advised physicians ‘not to alter their current clinical practice of treating depression during pregnancy’ when using antidepressants like Zoloft.

The FDA made the 2011 recommendation after it found conflicting findings studying a possible relationship between persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, or PPHN, and antidepressant usage.

The suit in St. Louis was first filed in 2012 by a long list of plaintiffs that included mothers and their children, including some from the St. Louis region. It was later decided that Logyn, a minor with birth defects from California, would be the first case tried before a jury.

Zoloft was a blockbuster for Pfizer when it was launched in 1991. It became the company’s third-biggest product, with sales peaking at $3.4 billion in 2004. In mid-2006, the patent expired and cheaper versions, under the generic name of sertraline, grabbed market share. Last year, Zoloft represented $423 million in sales for Pfizer.

However, Zoloft and its generic equivalents are still the best-selling antidepressants on the market, according to Express Scripts’ data.

Lexapro Maker Must Face Claims Tied to Suicide — (Courthouse News Service)

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Courthouse News Service

by Julia Filip

FORT MYERS, Fla. (CN) – Federal law does not pre-empt claims stemming from a Florida woman’s suicide after she took the antidepressant Lexapro, a federal judge ruled.
Brett Bennett sued Forest Laboratories in February 2006 for product liability and failure to warn, claiming that his wife’s suicide was related to her taking the prescription antidepressant Lexapro.
Bennett’s wife killed herself shortly after starting to take Lexapro, which is manufactured and distributed by Forest Laboratories, according to the lawsuit.  December 2003.
In the following months, the FDA asked manufacturers of antidepressants like Lexapro to include additional warnings related to worsening depression and suicide risk when marketing their drugs. In October 2004, the FDA required sponsors of certain antidepressants to include a “black box warning” regarding the increased risk of suicide.
Doctors have warned that antidepressants may have a role in worsening depression and the emergence of suicide tendencies in certain patients during the early phases of treatment. Clinical studies showed that children, teenagers and young adults who took antidepressants such as Lexapro were more likely to become suicidal, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Bennett claimed that Forest Laboratories not only made and sold a defective product, but also failed to warn consumers that the drug was potentially harmful and to test the association between Lexapro and suicide.
Forest Laboratories argued that Bennett’s state-law claims were preempted by federal law because they conflicted with provisions of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act and with FDA regulations.
The company claimed that it could not have changed its warning labels or medication guides before 2004, as Bennett suggested, without FDA approval. What’s more, there was no scientific support to add a black box warning at the time, according to Forest Laboratories.
U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell disagreed, noting that Forest Laboratories was free to participate in a process that lets drug manufacturers change labels when necessary without FDA pre-approval.
Moreover, drug makers have a duty to propose stronger warning labels to the FDA when needed, according to the 10-page order.
Forest Laboratories failed to prove that it approached the FDA about stronger warning language for Lexapro, or that the FDA would have rejected the proposed warning before revising warning requirements in 2004, Chappell concluded.
Although the company’s proposed label for Lexapro, which excluded the black box warning, was approved in part in late 2004, the FDA later adopted a standardized warning for antidepressants, which required a black box warning and additional information about suicide risk, according to the ruling.

Dead baby was found with cocaine, opiates, and anti-depressants in her stomach, report finds — (The Independent)

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The Independent

Monday 06 April 2015

A 6-month old baby who died unexpectedly in the care of her drug-taking parents had traces of cocaine, strong opiate pain killers and an anti-depressant in her stomach, a review into her tragic death has revealed.

A Liverpool review board today published findings on a report which considered events between August 2011 and July 2013 when the newborn baby, given the alias Mary, suddenly died at her family home in Liverpool.

During this period, the family were flagged up to the Children’s Social Care on five occasions.

However, the review by the Liverpool Safeguarding Children Board, chaired by Howard Cooper, concluded that predicting Mary’s death “is difficult to achieve with any meaningful degree of accuracy.

“It cannot be inferred that child Mary’s death was preventable, but there are lessons to be learned for all the agencies involved with this family about multi-agency working,” it said.

Mary was the youngest child of a family of four. At the time of her death, her mother (referred to as AB) was 30, her father (called CD in the report) was aged 33, and her siblings were aged one, eight and 10.

The family were first brought to the attention of social services before Mary was born, over an alleged domestic incident which AB later refuted to police. A social worker concluded no further action was needed and children were not at risk.

Several months later, an anonymous caller told social workers that there was “lots of shouting in the home, that the children were unkempt and did not attend school and that the parents pretended to be out when callers came to the house. It was also alleged that the home was smelly,” the report disclosed.

But a Health Visitor confirmed that the home was “sparse but not dirty” and said she had no concerns.

However, checks with the school confirmed that the two school-age children were “constantly late for school”, while the children’s health was also put into question, as they were reported to be “significantly overweight”.

Continuing problems with attendance, concerns surrounding drug use in the parental home, and missed meetings by parents led the Deputy Headteacher of the children’s school reporting AB and CD to Careline.

In January 2013, Mary was born 12 weeks early at Alder Hey, and was diagnosed with several medical conditions associated with prematurity including a heart murmur, metabolic bone disease and adrenal deficiency.

She was kept in hospital for 3 months, but after AB was discharged three days after Mary’s birth, “parents visited or rang the hospital but there were several consecutive days when Child Mary had no contact with mum or family, the longest being a period of 11 days,” according to the report.

Months after Mary’s death [could they mean birth? otherwise the rest of the paragraph makes no sense – Ed], her mother was diagnosed with depression and was given prescription medication. Two months later in July 2013, a Health Visitor attempted to visit the home to check on the family, but Mary’s mother kept her on the doorstep, and the baby was not seen.

The next day, Mary died suddenly and unexpectedly.

AB said she had placed Mary on a double bed upstairs, but found her 3 hours later lying unresponsive on the floor and on top of articles and clothing next to the bed.

A pathologist who assessed Mary’s death, which the report describes as “tragic”, said that the small amounts of cocaine, tramadol and mirtazapine in Mary’s stomach could have been due to contamination from the environment, or during resuscitation, and did not contribute to her death.

The coroner concluded that the cause of death was “unascertained.”

After Mary died, police found empty beer cans, drugs and a syringe on the premises and AB admitted to the Police, the use of cocaine and cannabis in the home.

The report said a number of recommendation have now been made to improve how families and agencies work together when supporting vulnerable children and their families.

Those included an assessment that the follow-up services by Mary’s hospital and community health services were “ineffective” for a vulnerable baby in the care of parents with a “very poor history of co-operation”.

The panel also criticised the lack of a multi-agency system for monitoring missed medical appointments, resulting “potentially significant” signs of neglect being missed.


Germanwings Crash Raises Questions About Shifting Ideas of Pilot Fitness — (New York Times)

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New York Times

A320 Crash: The Co-Pilot Wanted the World To Know His Name — (Actualité

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March 28, 2015

According to a former girlfriend, co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted everyone to know his name.  Mary W. is quoted in the German newspaper Bild: “When I heard about the accident, I remembered a phrase that he used:  “One day I will do something that will change the system and then everyone will know my name and remember it.”

“He spoke little about his illness”

“At the time I did not understood what he meant, but now it’s clear,” says the stewardess, 26, who had an affair in 2014 with the pilot of the Lufthansa budget subsidiary.

“He did not talk much about his illness, saying only that he was in psychiatric treatment,” she continued.

Off work due to depression

Reportedly, Andreas Lubitz was off work due to depression March 16 to 29. He hid his illness from his employer by not handing in the documentation [from his physician] to his superiors.  He therefore should not have been flying on the day of the crash.  Prosecutors in Düsseldorf confirmed that “a doctor’s note, dated the day of the tragic events, which was torn up, indicated his incapacity for work, and support the hypothesis that he hid his illness from his employer and his co-workers. ”

Antidepressants found at his Home

According to our sources, German investigators found antidepressants in the home of Andreas Lubitz, the first officer who deliberately crashed Airbus A320 last Tuesday. His medical records were also seized by the police.

These developments place the personality of the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, 28, at the heart of the investigation. He joined Lufthansa in 2013 and had only 630 hours of flying time since he completed his training.


Thursday night, German investigators searched  Andreas Lubitz’s apartment in Düsseldorf , and his parents’ home in Montabaur, where he lived part of the time.  Someone, whose face was hidden by a coat, accompanied investigators.  Security forces also took the CPU of a computer, as well as two large blue bags and a full carton.  Marcel Fiebig, spokesman for the Düsseldorf police, talked about the search. “We seized clues.  These are various objects and documents,” he stated.  “We’ll see if (the seized clues) provide definite evidence. We have to study everything,” he said.

Investigators also heard from his former girlfriend who explained that [Lubitz] had been battling depression for 6 years.


The hypothesis of suicide is most likely at this stage of the investigation.  No evidence has been found so far, such as a suicide note, that indicates the act was premeditated.

On Friday, March 27, Manuel Valls said on iTélé that “everything supports the hypothesis of a deliberate act of the co-pilot, even though “we have to wait for the outcome of the investigation”, this seems like a “crazy, incomprehensible, horrible act”.  “How can we imagine that a pilot, who people trust –  many look up to them as heroes –  could be capable of closing the cockpit door to prevent the pilot from returning to the cabin, and steering the plane into the mountain?” Manuel Valls continued.

Andreas Lubitz had passed all the psychological tests required by Lufthansa.  So how could he fly on antidepressants when this is forbidden?    There are flaws in how the medical status of pilots is monitored.

A New Look at Safety

This Germanwings crash raises many security issues. The European Aviation Safety Agency recommends that there always be two people in the cockpit.  Five companies already enforce this policy:  Air France, Air Transat Canada, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Icelandair and Easyjet.

Since the 2001 attacks, cockpit security has been strengthened.  The doors cannot be opened from the outside except with a code that only the pilot and co-pilot know. However, there is also a latch which can lock the cockpit security door from the inside.  It is this feature that may have prevented the pilot from re-entering the cockpit before the crash.

Normal conversation During the Early Part of the Flight

The first black box recovered at the scene of the accident on March 25 revealed the situation of a deliberate crash caused by the first officer.

Airbuses carry two black boxes. One records the technical parameters of the flight, the second records conversations and all the sounds that occur inside the cockpit.  It is this second that has been found and analyzed.

At the beginning of the flight both drivers can be heard conversing normally in German.  Around 10:30 am, the captain left the cockpit, probably to go to the toilet.

The driver then tried to get back into the cockpit, but the door was locked.  He banged on the door, and could be heard shouting the name of the co-pilot, ordering him: “Andreas, open the door, open the door!”.  He then went all out and tried to break the door down with an ax, without success.  Because they recognized the captain’s voice shouting, the investigators were able to determine which of the two pilots was in control of the aircraft at the time of the crash, according to a source close to the investigation.

“Wilful Destruction”

The first officer deliberately set the autopilot to a controlled descent, which can only be interpreted as a “wilful plan to destroy” the aircraft, said the prosecutor on Thursday, March 26.  Brice Robin said that he had not answered any of the communications from traffic control and that he had uttered no words.  But, he added, the sound of his breathing is audible throughout the last phase of the flight, which means that the first officer was alive.

Listen to the whole interview given by Brice Robin .

Investigation continues

Investigators working at the scene of the crash are trying to find the second black box and identify the bodies removed from the mountain, by bringing families to the crash site Thursday afternoon .  The long, tortuous work of body identification will probably take several weeks because no bodies were recovered intact .

The Families of the Victims are Caught Between Grief and Anger

The families of the victims, mostly German and Spanish , will gather on March 26 in the crash area.  Overcome with grief, they are also consumed by anger at the thought that one man could have determined the fate of their loved ones this way.


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Crash A320 : le copilote voulait que le monde connaisse son nom


28 mars, 2015

Selon une ancienne petite amie du copilote, Andreas Lubitz voulait que tout le monde connaisse son nom. Mary W. déclare dans le quotidien allemand Bild : “Lorsque j’ai appris cet accident, je me suis souvenue d’une phrase qu’il avait prononcée: ‘Un jour, je ferai quelque chose qui changera le système et alors tout le monde connaîtra mon nom et s’en souviendra”.

“Il parlait peu de sa maladie”

“Je n’ai pas compris alors ce qu’il avait voulu dire, mais aujourd’hui, c’est clair”, poursuit cette hôtesse de l’air de 26 ans qui a eu une liaison avec le pilote de la filiale low-cost de la Lufthansa en 2014.
“Il ne parlait pas beaucoup de sa maladie, disait seulement qu’il était en traitement psychiatrique”, poursuit-elle.

En arrêt de travail pour dépression

Selon nos informations, Andreas Lubitz était en arrêt de travail pour dépression du 16 au 29 mars. Il avait caché sa maladie à son employeur en ne remettant pas le document à ses supérieurs. Il n’aurait donc pas dû voler le jour du crash. Le parquet de Düsseldorf a confirmé que “des certificats d’incapacité de travail, qui ont été déchirés, qui étaient récents et même datés pour le jour des faits, appuient l’hypothèse qu’il a caché sa maladie à son employeur et à ses collègues de travail.”

Des antidépresseurs retrouvés

Toujours selon nos informations, les enquêteurs allemands ont retrouvé au domicile d’Andreas Lubitz, le copilote qui a délibérement crashé l’Airbus A320 mardi dernier, des antidrépresseurs. Son dossier médical a également été saisi par la police.

Ces nouveaux éléments placent la personnalité du copilote, Andreas Lubitz, 28 ans, au cœur de l’enquête. Il était entré chez Lufthansa en 2013 et ne comptait que 630 heures de vol à son actif depuis la fin de sa formation.

“Des indices”

Les enquêteurs allemands ont fouillé jeudi soir les deux domiciles d’Andreas Lubitz, à Düsseldorf où il avait un appartement et à Montabaur, où il vivait une partie du temps chez ses parents. Une personne, le visage caché sous un manteau, en est sortie avec les enquêteurs. Les forces de l’ordre sont également reparties avec l’unité centrale d’un ordinateur, ainsi que deux grands sacs bleus et un carton visiblement pleins. Le porte-parole de la police de Düsseldorf, Marcel Fiebig, s’est exprimé sur ces perquisitions. “On a saisi des indices. Il s’agit de divers objets et papiers”, a-t-il raconté. “On verra si (les indices saisis) apportent finalement des éléments de preuve. On va étudier tout cela”, a-t-il précisé.

Les enquêteurs ont également entendu son ancienne petite amie qui a expliqué que l’homme suivait depuis 6 ans un traitement pour lutter contre sa dépression.

Un suicide ?

L’hypothèse du suicide est la plus plausible à ce stade des investigations. Quant à savoir si son geste était prémédité, aucune lettre d’adieu ni aucun indice en ce sens n’ont été retrouvés.

Manuel Valls a déclaré vendredi 27 mars sur iTélé que “tout s’orient(ait)” vers l’hypothèse d’un acte délibéré du copilote, même si “nous devons attendre la fin de l’enquête”, évoquant un “geste fou, incompréhensible, horrible”. “Comment peut-on imaginer qu’un pilote en qui on a toute confiance -ce sont des héros pour beaucoup- précipite, après avoir fermé la porte ou empêché le pilote de rentrer dans la cabine, l’avion dans la montagne ?”, a poursuivi Manuel Valls.

Andreas Lubitz avait validé tous les tests psychologiques de la Lufthansa. Mais comment  pouvait-il voler sous antidépresseurs alors que cela est interdit ?

Il existerait des failles dans le suivi médical des pilotes :

Nouvelles consignes de sécurité

Ce crash de la Germanwings posent évidemment bien des questions de sécurité. L’Agence européenne de la sécurité aérienne recommande désormais la présence constante de deux personnes dans le cockpit. Cinq compagnies ont d’ores et déjà décidé d’appliquer la mesure : Air France, la canadienne Air Transat, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Icelandair et Easyjet.

Depuis les attentats de 2001, la sécurité du cockpit a été renforcée. Les portes ne peuvent plus être ouvertes de l’extérieur sauf par un digicode que seuls le pilote et son co-pilote connaissent. En revanche, il y a également un loquet qui permet de verrouiller la porte blindée de l’intérieur du cockpit. C’est donc ce dispositif qui a sans doute empêché l’ouverture du cockpit avant le crash.

Conversation normale en début de vol

C’est l’examen de la première boîte noire recueillie sur les lieux de l’accident le 25 mars qui met en lumière le scenario du crash délibérément provoqué par le copilote.

Un Airbus emporte à son bord deux boîtes noires. L’une enregistre les paramètres techniques du vol, la seconde grave les conversations et tous les éléments sonores qui se produisent à l’intérieur du cockpit. C’est cette seconde qui a été retrouvée et analysée.

On y entend les deux pilotes converser normalement en allemand, au début du vol. Vers 10h30, le commandant de bord quitte le cockpit, sans doute pour se rendre aux toilettes.

Le pilote a tenté ensuite d’entrer de nouveau dans le cockpit, mais la porte était bloquée. Il a essayé de la débloquer, criant le prénom du copilote. “Andreas, ouvre cette porte, ouvre cette porte !”, lui a-t-il intimé. Il a, à coups de hâche, tenté le tout pour le tout, sans succès. C’est ainsi que les enquêteurs ont identifié, grâce aux cris du commandant de bord, lequel des deux était aux commandes de l’avion au moment du crash, selon une source proche de l’enquête.

“Une volonté de détruire”

Le copilote a actionné volontairement les commandes de descente, de façon qui peut être analysée “comme une volonté de détruire” l’avion, a expliqué jeudi 26 mars le procureur. Brice Robin a précisé qu’il n’avait répondu à aucune des sollicitations du contrôle aérien et qu’il n’avait prononcé aucun mot. Mais, a-t-il ajouté, un bruit de respiration est audible pendant toute la dernière phase du vol, ce qui signifie que le copilote était vivant.

Ecoutez toutes les informations données par Brice Robin.

Les recherches continuent

Les enquêteurs qui travaillent sur les lieux du crash tentent de retrouver la deuxième boîte noire et d’identifier les corps évacués de la montagne, grâce à des prélèvements effectués sur les familles jeudi après-midi. Le long, très long travail d’identification des corps prendra probablement plusieurs semaines car aucun corps n’a été retrouvé intact.

Les familles des vicitmes entre deuil et colère

Les familles des victimes, notamment allemandes ou espagnoles, se recueillent depuis le 26 mars dans la région du crash. Endeuillées, elles sont aussi gagnées par la colère à l’idée qu’un homme seul a fait basculer le destin des leurs.


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The Wall Street Journal – Europe News

Andrea Thomas

Updated March 27, 2015 8:13 a.m.

Evidence collected at his apartment did not include suicide note or indication of motive

BERLIN—The Germanwings co-pilot who appeared to intentionally crash an airliner into a French mountainside this week, killing himself and 149 passengers and crew, received a note from a doctor excusing him from work but apparently tore it up, a German prosecutor said Friday.

The prosecutor said evidence collected in a search of Andreas Lubitz’ Düsseldorf apartment on Thursday afternoon did not include a suicide note and gave no indication of a political or religious motive for his apparent decision to crash the plane.

“However documents were confiscated that contained medical information indicating an existing medical treatment,” the Düsseldorf prosecutor said in a statement.Documents found in the apartment showed that Mr. Lubitz received a note from his doctor for the day of the incident excusing him from work, but that he tore up the note and did not inform Lufthansa about his condition, according to the prosecutor’s statement.“Doctor’s notes that were found that were current and for the day of the incident support the assumption, based on a preliminary evaluation, that the deceased concealed his illness from his employer and work environment,” the prosecutor said in the statement.Earlier, Germany’s Federal Aviation Office said that Mr. Lubitz had a medical condition noted in his pilot’s medical certificate, but the spokesman couldn’t say whether the record was related to his mental or physical health because the information was confidential.Mr. Lubitz’s record was last set in July 2014. The medical certificate gets updated annually, according to spokesman Holger Kasperski.

Lead French prosecutor Brice Robin said on Thursday he suspected Mr. Lubitz locked the captain out of the cockpit, programmed the A320’s descent and slammed it into an alpine ridge at 400 miles an hour with a “willingness to destroy this aircraft.”His employer and people who knew him said Mr. Lubitz was a quiet man who had a passion for gliders and competitive running.Mr. Lubitz had joined the LSC Westerwald flying club in Montabaur, his hometown, when he was about 14 and started gliding as a teen in the gentle hills around Montabaur, club members said. Situated just outside Montabaur, the flight club is a modest but well-kept building that includes a hangar and a club room with plain wooden chairs, a bar and long tables.

“He was a quiet person…not someone who tried to be the center of attention,” the club’s Mr. Rücker said.

Jörg Kämpflein—a flight club board member who has been with the club since 1993—said he was “surprised, astonished” by the allegations surrounding Mr. Lubitz. These, he said, “in no way” fitted his personality. Klaus Radke, president of the club, said Mr. Lubitz had renewed his pilot’s license to fly alone when he last visited.



Murder trial: McLinn describes killing Sasko in police interview — (Lawrence Journal-World)

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Lawrence Journal-World

By Caitlin Doornbos

March 18, 2015, 9:37 a.m.

Sarah Gonzales McLinn, 20, of Lawrence, appears emotionless while confessing to the brutal slaying of 52-year-old Harold “Hal” Sasko in a video of her police interview following her arrest in Florida last year.

McLinn is charged with intentional, premeditated murder in the Jan. 14, 2014, death of Sasko, a Lawrence resident. McLinn lived with Sasko at the time of his death and had previously worked for him at Sasko’s CiCi’s Pizza restaurant.

Jurors saw video of her post-arrest interview Wednesday, the second day of testimony. McLinn sat quietly in a purple cardigan as Lawrence detective M.T. Brown showed jurors footage from his interview with her from Jan. 26, 2014, the day after she was arrested on a warrant in Everglades National Park.Sarah B. Gonzales McLinn
Sarah B. Gonzales McLinn

Jurors saw video of her post-arrest interview Wednesday, the second day of testimony. McLinn sat quietly in a purple cardigan as Lawrence detective M.T. Brown showed jurors footage from his interview with her from Jan. 26, 2014, the day after she was arrested on a warrant in Everglades National Park.

In the video, McLinn was seen speaking with Brown and detective Jaime Lawson. She spoke nonchalantly and without tears, telling the investigator that she knew why he was there and admitting to drugging Sasko with five sleeping pills, zip-tying his wrists and ankles, feeling for his artery and plunging the knife into his neck.

To help Brown get a fuller idea of the way she killed Sasko, McLinn used Brown’s head as an example. She had Brown lay his head on the table, placed her left hand on Brown’s head, which was facing her, and gave a stabbing motion with her right hand.

“That’s when I ran it through with the blade face down, and I then pulled down,” McLinn said.

McLinn then described writing on the wall in Sasko’s blood, showering off his blood, packing her clothes in trash bags and putting her dog in Sasko’s Nissan Altima. Before she left, McLinn said, she called her sister and grandmother because she wanted them “to think (she) was OK.”

When asked why she killed Sasko, McLinn told the investigators that it was something she’d been thinking about for some time. She said she decided to kill Sasko about five days before the homicide.

“I had violent thoughts for two years and they progressed, I guess,” McLinn said. “They just became really intense.”

McLinn told the investigators that she “killed a couple rabbits” before, skinning and cleaning the bodies before eating them. Her attorney, Carl Cornwell, showed Brown a Nov. 11, 2013, receipt from Lawrence’s Pet World, 711 W. 23rd St., that documented McLinn’s purchase of a pet dutch rabbit.

In the interview, McLinn said she killed Sasko “almost the exact same way” as she killed the rabbit. She also used the same knife.

After she killed Sasko, McLinn said, she “just didn’t feel anything.” Later, she told Lawson that as Sasko lie dying, “everything was screaming at me.”

McLinn told detectives she intended to kill Sasko when she cut his throat, but answered “no” when asked if she was glad Sasko was dead. When Lawson asked what she regretted the most, she said, “hurting my sister and my family.”

McLinn remained calm in the interview, until she began to speak about giving up her dog, Oliver, in Florida. McLinn said her dog had an ear infection and she told a veterinarian in Fort Myers, Fla., that she was having trouble taking care of him. She also began to cry when speaking about her family.

Brown told McLinn in the video that he knew McLinn “recently had some thoughts about things” and said “we know that’s not you.” McLinn said that she had been on depression medication for about six months prior to the homicide, switching from Zoloft to Pristiq “a few days before everything happened,” and that the antidepressants intensified her violent thoughts.

“I’ve not been in a good place,” McLinn said. “It’s like really hard to explain. Little things make me turn and see red almost.”

McLinn also told investigators she had borderline personality disorder and “wanted out of that life.” She said she had “spent some time in a mental institution at 15 or 16” after a suicide attempt.

During opening statements Tuesday, Cornwell told the court McLinn suffers from dissociative identity disorder, or multiple personalities. He said that it was not McLinn who wanted to kill Sasko, but it was her alter-ego “Alyssa” who did. Cornwell said that McLinn has several personalities, including the kinder “Vanessa,” and another one without a name “who takes all of the horror and takes it in.” Cornwell said McLinn’s psychologist will testify to her multiple personalities later this week.

McLinn mentioned “Vanessa” in her police interview, saying she and Sasko talked about aliases they’d use if they ran away together someday. McLinn said Sasko wanted to be called “Scott.”

Cornwell is arguing the “not guilty by mental disease or defect” defense and said jurors should find McLinn not guilty because she was not in control of herself when she killed Sasko.

McLinn’s family lined the first two rows of the defendant’s side of the courtroom Wednesday. On the prosecutor’s side, Sasko’s brother and sister looked on.

Sasko’s brother, Tom Sasko, said he missed the trial yesterday because he was called as a witness. Wednesday morning, he got a call releasing him from his subpoena and came to the courthouse dressed in a CiCi’s Pizza polo shirt.

Tom Sasko said he has been in town the past two weeks helping Hal Sasko’s 18-year-old daughter sell Hal Sasko’s CiCi’s Pizza businesses in Lawrence and Topeka. He said he has been helping keep the businesses afloat for his niece until she was of age to decide what she wanted to do with them.

Military will publish response to suicide probe — (Toronto Star)

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Toronto Star

7 Mar 2015


In backtracking move, officials say report was never meant to be kept secret

With a court battle brewing, the military said it would lift the report’s secret designation

OTTAWA— The military has reversed course and says it will now allow its response to the investigation into a soldier’s suicide to be made public.

Col. Rob Delaney, commander of the military police, said in a statement that it was never the intention of the Canadian Armed Forces to keep its response secret.

Instead, he said the military police designated its reply to an independent report as secret in order to “safeguard” discussions about an interim report and the department’s formal response.

“I feel it is important to clarify the concerns of secrecy,” Delaney, who also serves as Provost Marshal, said in a statement issued Friday.

At issue is the investigation into the death of Cpl. Stuart Langridge, an Afghanistan war veteran who took his life in 2008.

The Military Police Complaints Commission, an independent body that oversees the military police, began its review of the case after complaints from his parents that the military investigation into the death was poorly handled.

After 60 days of hearings, the commission submitted an interim report to Delaney’s office on May 1, 2014 for comment.

Last December, the military delivered its “notice of action,” outlining its response to the report and whether the recommendations would be accepted.

However, that notice of action was designated as “Protected B,” which meant it could not be publicly released or even included in the commission’s final report to be released on Tuesday.

The commission has filed an application with the Federal Court seeking to overturn the department’s decision to keep that response under wraps.

Michel Drapeau, a lawyer for Langridge’s parents, had condemned the military secrecy as “absolutely outrageous.”

But in his statement, Delaney said he told the commission on Feb. 11 that he would remove the secret designation so it could “freely use and reference that information” in its final report.

“The Chair declined that offer,” Delaney said in his statement.

Yet the Federal Court filing suggests that the military would only remove the protected designation if the commission agreed to not publish its response.

The application for judicial review refers to a Feb. 11 decision “requiring the commission to agree not to publish the notice of action in the commission’s final report as a pre-condition for removing the ‘Protected B’ designation.”

With a court battle brewing and the military under fire, Delaney said Friday the military would lift the secret designation to resolve what he called the “apparent impasses.”


To view complete transcript click here

Military Police Complaints Commission


held pursuant to section 250.38(1) of the National Defence Act, in the matter of file 2011‑004


held at 270 Albert St., Ottawa, Ontario, on Wednesday, April 4, 2012





Mr. Glenn Stannard                                                                         Chairperson


Ms. Raymonde Cléroux                                                                      Registrar




Mr. Mark Freiman                                                             Commission counsel

Ms. Genevieve Coutlée

Ms. Beth Alexander


Ms. Elizabeth Richards                  For Sgt Jon Bigelow, MWO Ross Tourout,

Ms. Korinda McLaine LCol Gilles Sansterre, WO Blair Hart, PO 2 Eric McLaughlin,

Sgt David Mitchell, Sgt Matthew Alan Ritco, Maj Daniel Dandurand,

Sgt Scott Shannon, LCol Brian Frei, LCol (ret’d) William H. Garrick,

WO (ret’d) Sean Der Bonneteau, CWO (ret’d) Barry Watson


Mr. Lorne Ptack                                                                        For Leo Etienne


Col (ret’d) Michel W. Drapeau                                         For Mr. Shaun Fynes

Mr. Joshua Juneau                                                           and Mrs. Sheila Fynes


Mr. James Heelan                                         For witnesses, Dr. Sowa, Dr. Chu,

Dr. Yaltho and Dr. Elwell

Chairperson:  Good morning, Dr. Yaltho.

I understand, sir, that you are a physician licensed to practice in the province of Alberta, and you are currently employed ‑‑ or you were employed in 2008 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital; is that correct

A: Yes

Q:  Thank you very much, sir.  Now, we are going to discuss this morning with you a relatively brief experience you had and professional encounter you had with Corporal Stuart Langridge.  In order to set the scene, I would like to ask you to describe what your duties were in March of 2008 in terms of whom you would see in the hospital for psychiatric consultations

A:  I was the doctor on call for psychiatry on March 11, 2008, and this patient was brought to the emergency department by the military police, I believe.

Q:  I’d like to ask you to look at the book that is at your left‑hand side. There is [sic] a number of documents in there. And if you could open the document book to Tab 16, you will see a clinical consultation report, it’s more by way of a request to see a soldier.

Is this a document that would have been brought to your attention when you were called to see Corporal Langridge

A:   Yes.

Q:  Okay, so let me just read what the note says:  “Please see this 28‑year‑old‑male who has a history of alcohol and drug abuse and depression.  Multiple attempts for substance abuse treatment attempted; i.e., Edgewood, and patient was non‑compliant. Discharged from Alberta Hospital on March 3, 2008, under care of Dr. Sowa.  Now is heavily under restrictions imposed and stay in his military unit and monitor his actions for next couple of weeks.  Is not coping well with this anxiety, poor sleep, and trying to deal his way out of the circumstance.    “This member was informed today that he must return to his unit and continue to work and see how he does, and if is doing okay, return to his unit and abstaining, the consideration of a treatment program in Guelph, Ontario, Homewood, would be considered.   “Upon realizing he would be forced to return to his unit today, he states he is suicidal and would rather kill himself than return to his unit.”


Q:  Now, can you read to us the “on examination”, which is your impressions after you’ve compiled the history ‑‑ maybe it would be helpful if you just read us the note because it’s a little hard to read the handwriting.

A:  So you are talking about the middle section?

Q:  Let’s do the whole note. It’s only a page, so we can afford to do that.

A:   Dated March 11, ’08:   “28‑year‑old military serviceman recently separated from his wife, brought to the emergency for depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal thoughts.  ‘Can’t take Army stuff anymore’.  He complained of crying spells, chest pain, nightmares, sweating, decreased sleep and memory and decreased energy.  Although he was a heavy alcoholic, he drinks seldom now.  But indulges in cocaine, last time yesterday, and cannabis.  He had a previous admission ‑‑”[as read –  I think that says two or three.

“‑‑ he had previous admissions in RAH and was discharged from the Alberta Hospital last Friday by Dr. Sowa. He did not attend the AA meeting and had two drinks yesterday.  His medications are:  Venlafaxine, 225 milligrams; gabapentin, 600 milligrams at bedtime; Quetiapine, 50 milligrams at bedtime; Zopiclone, 7.5 milligrams at bedtime; olanzapine, 2.5 milligrams in the morning and 5 milligrams at bedtime.  Says gabapentin helps him with sweating, and he has been complying with the medications.

“His common‑law wife, a secretary, left him when he was hospitalized in February.  He was in Afghanistan for six months in 2004 and in Bosnia in 2001.  His elder brother is handicapped.  Mom is on gabapentin.  “On examination, a young Caucasian male in Army uniform being watched by a serviceman.  Depressed, anxious and suicidal. 

Pregnant woman was killed by train after doctor ‘failed to warn her an anxiety drug could cause suicidal feelings’ — (Daily Mail)

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Daily Mail Online

  • Pregnant Joanne Norris walked in front of speeding train at Witham, Essex
  • 28-year-old and her unborn baby were killed in incident in March last year
  • Inquest heard how Mrs Norris had suffered severe anxiety since age of 17
  • She took medication to manage anxiety but stopped when she fell pregnant
  • Later put back on low dosage by GP who ‘failed to warn her of side effects’
  • GP said he didn’t warn her as it was low dose and she had taken it before
  • Coroner said opportunities were missed to help her in lead up to her death 

A pregnant woman killed herself by walking into the path of a train after a doctor failed to warn her about the side-effects of an anti-anxiety drug, an inquest heard.

Joanne Norris, 28, and her unborn baby died after she walked into the path of a speeding train at Witham station, Essex, on March 16 last year.

An inquest at Essex County Coroner’s Court in Chelmsford heard how married Mrs Norris, who already had a three-year-old daughter called Lily, had suffered with anxiety since the age of 17.

Coroner Michelle Brown said opportunities to help her were missed in the run-up to her death.

The inquest heard how minutes before her death, Mrs Norris sent a text message to her husband Jeff which said: ‘I love you and Lily with all my heart, it’s not your fault I’m like this, I can’t cope anymore, I’m sorry.’

The hearing was told that the teaching assistant had a long-term prescription for anti-anxiety drug Venlafaxine to help manage her symptoms but stopped taking the drug on doctors’ advice when she fell pregnant with her second child.

However, she was prescribed Diazepam after complaining of constant morning sickness and was put back on a low-dosage of Venlafaxine in February last year after telling her GP, Dr Adekunle Olowu, that she was ‘unable to cope’.

The inquest heard that Dr Olowu failed to warn her of the possible side-effects of the anti-depressant.

During the hearing, Norris family counsel Vanessa Marshall grilled Dr Owolu about the decision to prescribe Venlafaxine again.

She asked him: ‘Isn’t it the case that in the early stages of taking Venlafaxine it can cause an increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts?

‘That is an established side-effect of the medication in some cases.

‘It was irrelevant that she had taken it over the years. Each period of taking it is different.’

Dr Olowu said he did not consider there to be a risk due to the reduced amount prescribed, as well as Mrs Norris’ previous experience taking the medication, but admitted he did not warn her of the increased risk.

The inquest also heard how on the day of her death Mrs Norris phoned a mental health crisis team twice and informed them that she was having thoughts about jumping in front of a train.

A nurse arranged a visit to her house later that day but when she arrived four hours later Mrs Norris had already died.

The coroner returned a verdict of suicide but said opportunities to help Mrs Norris had been missed by medical professionals.

She said: ‘Opportunities have been missed in respect of the initial referral to the hospital from the GPs’ practice and the lack of adequate recording in the GPs’ notes meant the evidence was insufficient to ascertain whether she stopped taking the drugs of her own accord or because she was advised to do so.

‘There is also insufficient evidence to show whether restarting the Venlafaxine contributed to her death, or whether the Diazepam was prescribed for sickness or anxiety.

‘However these were clinical decisions made by medical professionals and outside the remit of this inquest.’

The Norris family’s solicitors, Thompson Smith and Puxon, said an investigation into her death by the North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s mental health service had highlighted ‘various areas of her care that were of concern’.

It said Mrs Norris was left to seek help herself instead of being referred to experts by professionals.

A similar probe by Colchester General Hospital found care may not have been provided to a standard which may have averted her death.

Solicitor Naomi Eady, who represented Mr Norris at the inquest, said: ‘It is of great concern to Joanne’s family both investigating trusts are critical of the care she received on a number of different levels.’

Mrs Norris, who suffered with severe anxiety from the age of 17, died after walking into the path of a speeding train at Witham station, Essex (pictured), on March 16 last year. A coroner recorded a verdict of suicide

The law firm added: ‘Based on the evidence presented at the inquest the family will be pursuing a claim.’

The inquest also heard how Mrs Norris’ GP surgery, East Lynne Medical Centre in Clacton-on-Sea, had since changed its procedures to ensure that all expectant mothers are reviewed for mental health problems.

The surgery is also in the process of making improvements to the way it shares information with other health services, the hearing was told.

Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust has also installed a new computer system which lets GPs access patient records in a bid to reduce communication problems.

Antidepressant gets blame for bank robbery — (Winnipeg Sun)

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Winnipeg Sun

By Dean Pritchard, Winnipeg Sun

The son of Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh has been found not criminally responsible for robbing a bank after a judge agreed he was suffering from delirium after weaning himself off a prescribed antidepressant.

But Justice Rick Saull rejected a defence recommendation that Gordon Elijah Muller Mackintosh be granted an absolute discharge for the April 2012 robbery and instead referred the case to the Criminal Code Review Board, the government body responsible for making or reviewing the sentences of people found not criminally responsible for their actions.

“The facts of this case are very concerning to me,” Saull said. “I’d be much more comfortable from the standpoint of the interests of the accused and the interests of the public … if this matter were dealt with by the review board.”

According to an agreed statement of facts submitted to court, Mackintosh, then 22, entered the Assiniboine Credit Union on McPhillips Street wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and a fake moustache. He approached a teller with a note demanding money and indicated he had a bomb in his briefcase. Mackintosh was given $100, approached another staff member for a phone number, then left the bank.

At a hearing last month, Barbara Mackintosh, Gordon’s mother, told court her son picked her up from work later that day and did not appear himself.

“Gordie wasn’t really saying anything,” she said. “He was pale … almost ghost-like. His eyes were glazed.”

Barbara Mackintosh said she was reading the Winnipeg Sun about a month later when she saw what she thought was her son’s picture in a “most wanted” story.

“I had the picture, I said ‘Gordie, is that you?’ He said ‘It’s not me, mom, it couldn’t be.'” Barbara showed the picture to her husband and they confronted their son again. The next day, Gordon turned himself in to police.

Court heard in the weeks prior to the bank robbery, Gordon — at his doctor’s direction — had been weaning himself off Effexor, an anti-depressant.

“This was delirium brought on by the reduction in Effexor,” said Gordon’s lawyer Josh Weinstein. “It is a documented side-effect.”

Gordon was reducing his drug dosage at the same time as he was preparing for university exams, possibly compounding the withdrawal symptoms, a psychiatrist wrote in a report submitted to court.


1st Circuit Tosses Suit Over Antidepressant — (Courthouse News Service)

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Courthouse News Service

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

(CN) – Parents in California cannot compel manufacturers to replace FDA-approved labels of antidepressant Lexapro, which they say overstates the effectiveness of the drug, the 1st Circuit ruled.
Randy and Bonnie Marcus filed a class action in Los Angeles Federal Court in May 2013, claiming Forest Laboratories Inc. and Forest Pharmaceuticals Inc. falsely advertised antidepressant medication Lexapro, in violation of state consumer protection laws.
The couple says they bought Lexapro to treat their adolescent son’s depression in April 2009, based on its FDA-approved label, only to find it no more effective than a placebo.
According to the complaint, the FDA’s standards for approving antidepressants are “minimal,” as the agency accepted “flawed” and “fraudulent” data from studies of Lexapro and Celexa, another selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
The Marcuses say that “data was manipulated to create the appearance of statistical significance” in the Celexa study, while the Lexapro study showed a clinically insignificant difference between that drug and a placebo for acute treatment of depression in adolescents.
The plaintiffs seek a permanent injunction on behalf of all Californians who purchased Lexapro for an adolescent from March 2009 to present, and assert violations of the state’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law.
The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the case to Massachusetts as part of In re Celexa and Lexapro Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation.
The Massachusetts court then granted Forest’s motion to dismiss, relying on Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act preemption and California’s safe harbor doctrine.
The 1st Circuit affirmed the lower court’s ruling Friday, finding that federal law impliedly preempts the Marcuses’ claims because the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act prohibits Forest from independently changing its FDA-approved label.
The judge tossed aside the plaintiffs’ request that Forest change Lexapro’s label, which federal law says must reflect “newly acquired” information.
“We find only two fleeting references to academic articles published after the FDA’s approval of the Lexapro label,” Judge William Kayatta, said, writing for the three-judge panel. “Plaintiffs make no claim that these two academic articles are based on new data. They instead contend that these two studies are metaanalyses that were not included in Forest’s submission to the FDA.”
The judge later added: “We can find no precedent – and plaintiffs point to none – that would have allowed Forest to use the [changes being effected] CBE procedure to alter the FDA label in the manner that plaintiffs allege is necessary so as to render it not ‘misleading.’ Indeed, plaintiffs seem to concede this in their prayer for relief, as they ask the court to ‘direct[] Forest to seek FDA approval of a new [drug] label.’
“Plaintiffs are thus stymied: Forest could not independently change its label to read as plaintiffs say it should have read in order to comply with California law,” the ruling continues. “That construction of California law upon which plaintiffs rely – even assuming it is correct notwithstanding the safe harbor doctrine – is therefore preempted by federal law.”
Actavis, which acquired Forest last year, reportedly earned more than $4.63 billion in revenue in 2014.