Suicides blamed on SSRI drugs — (Eastern Arizona Courier)

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Eastern Arizona Courier

D.R. Shaw, Eastern Arizona Courier

Wednesday, January 12, 2000

If feeling depressed, please take one tab of LSD or inject one-quarter gram of PCP.   This will have the same effect on the human body and mind as a prescription for common antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Luvox, according to Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, a Ph.D. in psychology and health sciences and executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness. Originally from Safford, Tracy has specialized in cases concerning adverse reactions to serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRI anti-depressants, for the past 10 years.

These drugs, Tracy said, block serotonin’s metabolism in the brain, thereby increasing brain levels of the neurotransmitter, which is the same thing LSD and PCP do. Elevated serotonin is found in people with psychosis or schizoprenia, mood disorders, organic brain disease, mental retardation, autism and Alzheimer’s. Low levels of the metabolism of serotonin (which also produces high serotonin) are found in people with depression, anxiety, suicide, violence, arson, substance abuse, insomnia, violent nightmares, impulsive behavior, reckless driving, hostility, etc. The SSRI drugs being prescribed today both increase serotonin and decrease its metabolism, she added. Even one of the doctors who helped create Prozac, Candace B. Pert, said, “I am alarmed at the monster that Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon Snyder and I created 25 years ago. The public is being misinformed about the precision of these selective serotonin-uptake inhibitors. The medical profession oversimplifies their action in the brain and ignores the body as if it exists merely to carry the head around. In short, these molecules of emotion regulate every aspect of our physiology.” “We have witnessed no decrease in suicide since these drugs were introduced,” Tracy said. “There have been increases in murder/suicide, suicide, domestic violence, manic-depression, road rage, school shootings, parents killing their children and other horrors.” If it is true these drugs cause an increase in anti-social behavior, then why are doctors prescribing them?

“Doctors just don’t know,” Tracy said. “They were taught the opposite in medical school and they don’t read through all the research. They just listen to what the drug reps say. Tracy claims that several recent suicides in Graham County can be attributed to the use of antidepressants, including those of Bill Farrar, 1998, and Darrin Baskins, in 1997. A lawsuit against the manufacturer of Paxil, Smith-Kline Beecham, has been filed in federal court on behalf of Farrar. The family of Baskins has filed a claim against the manufacturer of Zoloft. “And they’re not affecting just crazy people; everyday, average housewives do horrible things, from hurting themselves to killing their children, but when your doctor has you on something like PCP, then what do you expect?” she said. “A church leader from Safford called me and said he had three suicidal girls in his ward who were all on Paxil, and he wanted to know if there was any treatment. I told him to get them off the drugs. One study done by a prominent doctor in London found that the suicide rate of patients increased six times when treated with these drugs,” said Tracy. ”  And many of these drugs were approved by the FDA when there was only five to six weeks of research done on them.  Two doctors who did research on Paxil, Celexa and Zyprexa are now in prison on 172 counts of fraudulent research.  Why are these drugs still on the market?”

Sherrie French, former wife of Bill Farrar, confirmed Tracy’s belief.   Her family has filed a suit against the manufacturer of Paxil. “My husband was on Prozac, Paxil and Luvox for three years and his behavior changed drastically,” she said. “My husband was never the type of person to do that (commit suicide).  He was always upbeat and professional.  He was a really good teacher, but there was some depression there from stress and feeling overwhelmed at times. So Prozac was prescribed and he began feeling better at first. Later he was prescribed Paxil and during that time his behavior became bizarre.  He was prescribed Luvox two weeks before he killed himself. They prescribe these drugs and say to get back with them in a month or two and he (Bill) wasn’t even here in a month.” French added, “I do not blame the clinics or doctors who prescribed it, but I think the FDA should have done more to make sure it was safe.” “I really don’t know anything about the suit, but it will bring closure for my kids.

What I regret is that my son had to find him because he’ll always have that image in his head.  It gets easier as time goes by, but there’s not a day that goes by that you don’t think about it. Our family would just feel better to know, and we really do know, it wasn’t him. Their dad wasn’t crazy, it was just the drugs. “It destroys people’s lives.  Those drugs may have their place in a monitored setting but you just can’t prescribe them the same for everyone.”  But according to Tracy, Eli Lilly makes $7 million a day on the sales of Prozac alone. “It’s unfortunate that drug companies have to be fined and pay penalties to get them to stop,”  French said. “But when they make $7 million a day on one, what’s a half-million dollars for fines?”

Andy Vickery, the attorney who filed the case on behalf of the Farrar family, said most of the cases that have been filed in this country are against Prozac.  But out of about 160 cases, most have been dismissed or settled out of court.  Tracy said most of the out-of-court settlements resulted in gag orders being placed upon the families in exchange for money. “But they can’t put a gag order on me,” she said. Vickery has filed another case against a drug manufacturer on behalf of the family of Darrin Baskins, a Safford man who committed suicide in August of 1997.  He was taking Zoloft at the time of his death. Vickery said only two civil cases have been filed against drug manufacturers by SSRI users’ families so far and both of those were lost.

The first was against Eli Lilly in 1994: a Kentucky man shot several people and himself while taking Fentrus.  The second case was tried in Hawaii last year by Vickery’s firm. It was lost, but an appeal has been filed. “We believe in this phenomenon of drug induced suicide and there are scientific facts to back it up,”  Vickery said. He agreed with Tracy and French that the use of these drugs in the Safford area is overwhelmingly high. “For whatever reason, anti-depression use by Mormons is very high and I don’t know why. It’s really pretty astounding to me, from a theological view, that people who won’t drink caffeine would take these psychotropic drugs.”  Tracy, along with several nationally renowned doctors and researchers, has begun a campaign to get the information about these dangerous drugs out in the open and she hopes to get them off pharmacy shelves. She spent four-and-a-half years researching SSRI drugs, including thoroughly reading their labels, use and after affects.