Robin Schott — (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

MS. SCHOTT: My name is Robin Schott. I want to know how you have decided to call this meeting and decide that it is a religious issue. We are not here today to belittle the Church of Scientology, which, I would like to add, I am not a member of. I am a Roman Catholic, thank you. We are here today to discuss a highly lethal drug, Prozac, which, if you all would like to see my scars and my anecdote and my story, yes, we have belittled human lives here.

I thought we lived in a democracy, where we all got to live with people and we got to be people. But, instead, we want scientific evidence. Who are we testing these drugs on? Do all of you want to take this drug? Do all of you want walk around humiliated for the rest of your lives because of something you did when you were drug-induced? Do you want to hear the lies? Do you want to get told, “Hey, maybe you’ll lose a little bit of weight, maybe you’ll get a couple headaches,” and you try and slit your wrists? Do you want to never be able to walk back into a classroom because you have been humiliated because you tried to kill yourself at the age of 20, when you were intelligent — you were well above intelligent, you graduated from college with honors, you were a member of Phi Beta Kappa — you had everything to live for, and yet you wanted to die?

I entered therapy one year ago as a victim of rape. I stand before you today a victim of Prozac. It baffles my mind to think that a prescription drug I could simply compare to a felony of rape. But, yes, they can be compared, because if a drug robs you of your will to live, then it has committed a felony equal to that of rape.

I entered therapy and was pressured into taking an antidepressant as a quick fix to my mild depression. I am not mentally ill. There is nothing chemically wrong with my brain. I was simply depressed. My father died when I was 16. I was date-raped when I was 14. I was date-raped again when I was 18. I obviously had a lot on my mind.

So they told me Prozac was the quick fix. I had told them already I was bulimic. I was already five pounds underweight. To me, it is apparent that my psychiatrist never bothered to read the package insert. The second adverse reaction listed says underweight people should not be placed on this drug because weight loss would obviously be an undesirable effect. Well, I did lose weight, I lost 20 pounds. I shrank down to less than a human being. I was a skeleton. I was a walking skeleton with no will to live.

I became a creature of my own destruction. My adverse reactions began immediately. I have blurred vision, which continues today. When I told my psychiatrist about that, she blew it off. I took that to mean, okay, it’s going to go away when I stop taking the drug or I adjust to the drug. It never went away. Today I still wear glasses.

I immediately had severe headaches, violent thought in nature, which is totally against my character — I had never had violent thoughts before. I’m a pacifist. The whole reason I was in therapy was because of a lack of self-esteem and a lack of being able to stand up for myself. Today I am here to stand up for myself, my right as a human being, which I feel I was robbed of.

Why am I here today? I am here to make somebody listen, to hear me, my side of the story. Yes, it’s a story, it’s an anecdote, it’s a real live person. I had violent thoughts, I had violent natures, and I tried to kill myself seven days after being withdrawn from Prozac. It even states on the package insert that Prozac has not been systematically researched as to how long dependency would take. So I guess I get to be the living proof that, yes, there is dependency.

I would like to sum it up by saying I tried to kill myself twice. I was unsuccessful both times and I thank God I am alive today, thanks to my mother. My mother loved me enough to leave me in a hospital where I was protected.

I stand before you because I want you to be aware of what is going on in real live people.

Two weeks after I tried to kill myself, one of my friends was tragically killed. I have to live with that for the rest of my life. My mother told me, in trying to comfort me, that perhaps I was the messenger of death and I had taught all of my young friends how to deal with death head on.

I would much rather today be a messenger of life, if one of you will simply listen to what I have to say and bring life, or at least give somebody the chance, an unsuspecting victim the chance to have a life. I thank you and I hope that you heard what I said.