Afield Discusses Prozac — (St. Petersburg Times)

SSRI Ed note: Florida psychiatrist deposed for State of Florida vs. Kevin Callahan explains how he is certain that Prozac can cause violent behavior.

Original article no longer available

State of Florida vs. Kevin Callahan

St. Petersburg Times

June 30, 1991

[]Here is an excerpt from the deposition of Dr. Walter Afield in the case of the State of Florida vs. Kevin Callahan, taken on Jan. 15, 1991.

Assistant State Attorney William Loughery: So what, specifically, if you can, did you look to to make the determination that this Prozac is what caused him or, I mean, put it this way: Are you indicating you believe it’s your opinion the Prozac caused him to have this violent outburst or somehow contributed to a problem that was already present, or can you assess any degree of involvement in the Prozac, what it had to do with his consciously dealing with

Dr. Afield: I think the Prozac was probably the primary responsible agent in this situation. There have been other reports in the literature. This Wesbecker case up in Kentucky where the guy shot everybody was on Prozac. And this guy who shot the rabbi fellow in New York two or three months ago apparently was on Prozac. And we’re beginning to see some reports of this around the country, people on Prozac committing violent acts or intense violent outbursts.

And, uh, when this man came in, uh, I mean, I was surprised, the history was pretty straightforward, and he had had no idea what kind of information he was giving.

And then when you verify it from the doctor, uh, at least his written reports, I haven’t talked to Dr. Warren. Dr. Warren is saying the same thing the family is telling, acting bizarrely, strangely, he continues to push the Prozac and raise the doses. I think it’s, uh, rather clear-cut.

Loughery: Well, let me ask you this: These people that you’ve mentioned around the country that apparently had these violent outbursts, uh, that are have the prescription or on Prozac or taking Prozac, has there been any, or have you, uh, looked at, or has the literature you’ve looked at whether or not they all had some, uh, underlying psychological problem that was similar that made them be treated by Prozac?

Afield: I haven’t looked into all of these. I do I you have to go into the assumption they had underlying psychological problems or they wouldn’t have been given the medicine.

Loughery: That’s my point. How do you know it’s just not the psychological problems and not the medicine causing them to do it?

Afield: All I can tell you is if this was the only case then I would be the only one out there, but there are a variety of other reports coming in. It appears to me that the drug caused this situation. It’s not an isolated case. It’s, uh it’s out there, and it’s being reported.

Loughery: If you had other information, uh, that would indicate to you, or that would indicate that Kevin Callahan, uh, had a violent nature and had prior violent outbursts, uh, prior to his taking Prozac, do you think that would change your opinion at all?

Afield: Well, no, but it would, I think unfortunately, it would probably enhance it, uh, because if you have those kinds of outbursts, you are probably, with what we know today, ought not be taking Prozac. Since it seems to cause problems and accentuate those issues.

Again, I need some specifics but, uh, somebody with that kind of history wouldn’t be given Prozac to as we know it today. I don’t think at the time it was given it, uh anybody really knew that.

Loughery: If a person hypothetically, a person did have a violent history and was of a violent nature, he took Prozac, and you said it may it might enhance his problems, could it we then attribute Prozac to being the cause of his doing this violent outburst?

Afield: Yes, pretty much so. I think so.

Loughery: Why?

Afield: Again, like someone who’s got some problems, and he goes out and takes LSD, or gets drunk, uh, granted they do that voluntarily, a doctor doesn’t give it to them. If he goes out and takes it, goes out and runs down the street naked, uh, uh, the drug is what caused it. Or the alcohol is what caused it.

In one case it’s something that he’s drinking, and it’s released whatever his inhibitions were. And in the other case, it’s a pill that he’s taken, either from illegal sources or smuggled into his drinking some way or something. That was given to him by a doctor. I think here, you know, this is what happened.

Record Number:  114