Sally Barrett — (1991 FDA Hearings)

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Department Of Health And Human Services Public Health Service Food And Drug Administration

FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Hearings

Friday, September 20, 1991

DR. CASEY: Sally Barrett?

MS. BARRETT: My name is Sally Barrett and I am here with my husband, Al Barrett. We both live in San Diego, California. We are members of the San Diego chapter of the Prozac Survivors Support Group. Al and I have traveled many miles to be here before the Pharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee members, to testify before this committee, to tell a story that is very painful and difficult to relate, but a true story that needs to be told.

This story has to do with our youngest daughter, and our experience with the drug Prozac. On January 25th, 1970 Jenny entered our lives and captured the hearts of her mom and dad, like her older sister had. She was a child who always did well in school with no pushing from her family. Jenny was a naturally self-motivated young lady and she was an achiever, and she remained so all of her elementary school days and on through high school. She graduated with honors at the top of her class. We always felt she had the greatest talent and potential of anyone in our family.

However, at age 17 she developed an eating disorder called anorexia. Her doctor placed her on a number of antidepressants with no positive results. By the end of 1989 her condition had improved and her weight was normal. We were much ‘encouraged by this change. In January, 1990, however, she was placed on the antidepressant Prozac. Several weeks later she took an overdose, which was her first suicide attempt. Jennifer herself could not understand why she would do such a thing, nor did we. For the next four or five months after she was taken off of this drug she did not talk about suicide nor attempt it. However, she was heavily sedated under the effects of another drug, called enafranil and she was then placed on Prozac to counteract the effects of the enafranil. The doctor said she had never prescribed this combination before. Her evaluation of Jennifer was that she was mildly depressed. This occurred in July of 1990.

In 1990, after starting Prozac, Jenny’s behavior became more agitated and aggressive and hostile.

Jenny started having terrorizing nightmares, frightening the whole  family with her outcries. Jenny’s behavior began to change dramatically and drastically. She started shoplifting in the stores, a strange and unusual act which we could not understand, especially since she had quite enough money to make the purchases herself.

It was at this time that she began spending money wildly and impulsively. She began overeating at this time and gained 75 pounds. The second time that she was placed on Prozac she secretly purchased a gun on August 25 and shot herself in the head and died on August 27.

Since Jenny’s death we have been trying to  rationalize and understand how and why this happened. Jenny was a happy girl and an honors student and she had many friends. As we tried to put the sequence of this bizarre chain of events together, we realized that the change in our daughter’s behavior occurred after Jenny started taking the drug Prozac.

Are we not entitled to an educated, and informed choice when we take such powerful and mind-altering drugs as these? If we had been fully informed, we would never have allowed our daughter and our loved one to use this drug.

I believe anyone who knows the truth about the risk: involved would come to the same conclusion we have, that it just is not worth the risk. I really wonder what is happening
in the United States when human life, our most precious commodity, is expendable in the pursuit of corporate profit and greed. I think it is time for America’s most vulnerable
citizens to stop being used as uninformed guinea pigs for Eli Lilly’s wonder drug.

I respectfully request that this drug be taken off the market so that no other child or family will suffer the loss and the devastation that we have. Thank you for your time and attention to this most important matter.

Al and I received a death sentence for life, too, but our sentence is for the rest of our lives. Eli Lilly murdered my soul with the drug. Now we are facing a life sentence without Jenny here to share it with us. Thank you.