Original article no longer available
Debra Savage, reporting
(Ottumwa) A former Heartland man whose family and friends have described him as one of the happiest people you would ever meet is gone and those close to him say they want to know why.
Three years ago, Larry Brown worked at the post office in Eldon before he and his wife Bernadette moved to California.
The couple had just returned home from a cruise and had celebrated his 50th birthday when the unthinkable happened.
“I said Larry, no way he was the last person in the world you would have expected to commit sucide,” said Bruce Allen.
“Larry had been taking the anti-depressant, zoloft,” said Bruce Allen.
The U-S Food and Drug Administration said, for people taking that drug, there’s no increased risk level of suicidal thoughts in adults over twenty-five.
Bruce Allen from Ottumwa said he went to his best friend Larry’s funeral on March 22nd and that explanation didn’t cut it for him.
“Nobody around him knew this was going on (that Larry was thinking about suicide), none of his friends, everybody was like I can’t believe this, this wasn’t larry,” said Bruce Allen.
“The family has been convinced there was not enough warning about what may have been a deadly prescription for his friend,” said Bruce Allen.
“Bernadette came running out and cried to us and said I know what killed Larry, she said it was that Zoloft that he had been taking, she went it was that Zoloft,” said Bruce Allen.
The Zoloft website said over the past 14 years, the drug company has treated millions for depression.
Those concerned said the number of patients who have been treated has not the issue, but what has been disclosed in the black box warning is the issue.
“Black box warning is a specific warning that’s issued through F-D-A that drugs manufacturers have to include in their package insert about the medication with the specific population with regards to some of the side effects,” said Eric Carlson.
Bruce said Larry was confused over how he felt, so his wife suggested as he took the Zoloft to write down his thoughts.
Bruce said Bernadette didn’t realize Larry had been actually doing it until after his death, she found his journal under the car seat.
“He said very bad day, suicidal thoughts all day, no sleep,” said Bruce as he read from Larry’s journal.
Bernadette said she and her husband knew something was wrong with how he had been feeling. Bernadette said her husband went to the hospital a couple of days after he had just started taking zoloft.
Bernadette said the emergency room doctor checked him over and just sent him home.
“Wed March 21st he said I’m feeling better, keep in mind that was the day before he committed suicide, he said I’m feeling better I will make it a good day no matter what,” said Bruce Allen as he read from Larry’s journal.
Websites for people who have suffered similar loss like “Woodymatters” have suggested that no matter how much Larry Brown had tried, he may not have been able to make it a good day by himself.
Articles on the site suggested that some said the F-D-A has not done enough.
For that reason some national politicians have gotten involved.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has successfully passed an amendment to increase monetary penalties for companies who will not comply with F-D-A directives, such as label changes or communicating information about drug risks.
But Brown’s family and friends said while it’s too late to help Larry, it’s not too late for “them” to help others.
“You know my friends gone, he’s not going to come back, its more to get the word out there so people, so it doesn’t happen to somebody else, said Bruce Allen.”