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Manhattan Suicide Was Taking Prozac Antidepressant’s Effects Under Attack
The New Jersey Record
February 26, 1992
Author: The Associated Press; Wire services
An assistant district attorney who plunged to his death from the roof of his Upper East Side apartment building was taking the controversial antidepressant Prozac, police said Tuesday.
Michael Farrell, 41, who had worked for Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes since 1990, was pronounced dead at the scene, in front of the 42-story Yorkville Towers at Third Avenue and 92nd Street, at 11:40 a.m., said Detective Joseph McConville.
The prosecutor, who was dressed in a suit and tie, plunged through a glass awning before striking the sidewalk, police said.
Farrell, who had been under a doctor’s care for depression and had been taking Prozac, left two suicide notes in his ninth-floor apartment, police said.
Prozac, made by Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis, has been prescribed to more than 3 million patients in the United States and more than 5 million worldwide.
As of September 1991, the Food and Drug Administration had received at least 14,100 reports of adverse reactions from Prozac since the drug was introduced on the market in 1987. More than 500 reports involved suicide attempts, officials said.
However, a panel of experts told the FDA in September that there is no sound evidence that Prozac or any other antidepressant causes suicide or other violent behavior.
John A. Smith, deputy executive director of the National Mental Health Association, noted that depression can be a lethal disease if left untreated. Fifteen percent of untreated depressed patients commit suicide, he said.
The FDA in July denied a petition by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights to take the drug off the market. The group is affiliated with the Church of Scientology, which has been at odds with the psychiatric community.
Record Number: 801160