LETTER FROM THE LAW OFFICES OF F. DONALD SOKOL

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Sept, 1992

FROM A LETTER FROM THE LAW OFFICES OF F. DONALD SOKOL, CA

Dear Sir:

“…I defended Douglas Cecrle on a murder charge. His wife died from injuries sustained from a beating administered by him. He had never been in trouble before, never abused his wife, and was a shy, retiring man. About 3 weeks after ingesting Prozac pre-scribed by an osteopath over the phone, his friends testified that he became belligerent and agitated. Directly after receiving an
adverse decision in his divorce case he drank two quarts of Colt 45 and then broke in a locked door, grabbed the phone receiver and beat his wife who sustained fatal injuries.
Investigating this case, I found that Prozac was involved. I talked to several “Prozac survivors”, people that had not been in trouble with the law before, who had similar ideation as Douglas had, but something intervened before they could act out what they were thinking. ONE THING THAT CONVINCED ME THAT PROZAC WAS THE CAUSATIVE FACTOR IS THAT
DOUGLAS TOLD ME EARLY ON, BEFORE THE SUBJECT OF PROZAC HAD ARISEN, THAT HE HAD “NO ALTERNATIVE” TO KILLING HIS WIFE. THIS STRUCK ME AS VERY STRANGE SINCE IT WAS, OF COURSE, THE WORST POSSIBLE THING HE COULD SAY. THEN, IN ALMOST EVERY CONVERSATION I HAD WITH THE PROZAC SURVI-VORS, THIS SAME PHRASE WAS USED WHEN THEY DESCRIBED THE BIZARRE IDEATION THEY WERE EXPERIENCING. THEY SAID THEY WERE COMPELLED TO DO BIZARRE ACTS BECAUSE THERE WAS “NO ALTERNA-
TIVE”.
At the trial, I attempted to get the Trial Judge to admit testimony from Prozac survivors about their experiences with the drug.  In the final analysis, the Court held FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE UNITED STATES that there was a causal connection between homicide and Prozac. This drew nationwide attention. It appeared in the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek Magazine.
However, I know of no case in which the Prozac defense (Serotonin Syndrome defense) has been successful to date.  THE KEY I BELIEVE TO SUCCESSFUL USE OF PROZAC LIES IN CAREFUL MONITORING BY A COMPETENT PHYSICIAN ESPECIALLY DURING THE FIRST MONTH OF USE. THIS WAS NOT PRESENT IN THE CECRLE CASE.

ALSO IN THE CECRLE CASE THERE WAS THE INVOLVEMENT OF LIQUOR. THE ADVERSE REACTION IS APPARENTLY EXACERBATED BY ALCOHOL INGESTION PARTICULARLY DURING THE FIRST 3 WEEKS OF USE.”