Nebraska man blames Zoloft in girlfriend’s 2002 killing — (Tri-City Herald)

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Tri-City Herald

September 15, 2015

The Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. — A Nebraska man convicted of killing his girlfriend in 2002 is blaming an antidepressant for his actions and requesting his case be re-examined by a judge.

Randall Robbins pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Brittany Eurek and was sentenced to 40 to 60 years in prison.

Robbins claims the antidepressant Zoloft, which was prescribed to him for depression in 2002 by a Lincoln doctor, played a key role in what was supposed to be a murder-suicide, the Lincoln Journal Star (http://bit.ly/1idyDj0 ) reported.

Attorney Rob Kortus of the Nebraska Commission of Public Advocacy, who’s representing Robbins, said DNA testing conducted this year shows genetics prevents Robbins from metabolizing Zoloft as intended by its manufacturer. Kortus contends that can lead to violent outbursts and suicidal behavior, something the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned of in 2007, in young adults between 18 and 24 during initial treatment.

In 2009, Robbins successfully sued drug manufacturer Pfizer and the doctor who prescribed Zoloft to him.

He requested DNA testing in 2011, without providing a reason, and the request initially was denied but came up again in a motion for post-conviction relief. Robbins then specifically sought DNA Drug Reaction Profile Testing, using the state’s DNA Testing Act, to determine whether he was among some 10 percent of people who are poor metabolizers of Zoloft.

Kortus plans to argue that the test results indicate that Robbins should be released from prison, granted a new trial or re-sentenced with the new evidence taken into consideration.

A judge could find that the evidence doesn’t rise to the level to warrant any of those steps.

Briefs are expected to be submitted in October and November.

 

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Convicted killer sues Pfizer for millions — (The Lincoln Journal Star)

By LORI PILGER, Lincoln Journal Star

Friday, Jun 26, 2009

“Randall Robbins II wants $1 million from the maker of the antidepressant and the Lincoln doctor who prescribed it to him for every year he spends in prison.”

“He was 17 when he killed Brittany Eurek in 2002.”

A convicted murderer who strangled the teenage mother of his child has sued Pfizer, alleging the Zoloft he was taking led him to try to commit suicide and then take his girlfriend’s life.

Randall Robbins II wants $1 million from the maker of the antidepressant and the Lincoln doctor who prescribed it to him for every year he spends in prison.

He was 17 when he killed Brittany Eurek in 2002.

But, if the now 25-year-old wants to pursue the suit, he’ll need to find an attorney to take it on or do it himself.

Lancaster County District Judge Jeffre Cheuvront rejected a request from Robbins to appoint an attorney to represent him and to let him file the case without paying the fees and costs.

If Robbins doesn’t come up with $79 or appeal the ruling within 30 days, the case will be dismissed.

In the suit filed Tuesday, he said Pfizer failed to warn him of side effects of Zoloft.

“Pfizer knew or should have known the effects, including that R.R. might commit or attempt suicide and murder…,” he said.

Robbins said the drug intensified his agitation, suicidal desires and irritability and decreased his ability to control impulses.

He seeks $2 million each from Pfizer and his doctor for emotional distress and physical pain suffered. He also wants $1 million from each of them for each year he’s spent incarcerated and away from his family.

Robbins argues that Pfizer and his Lincoln doctor both were negligent.

At 10:49 on the night of June 1, 2002, Robbins’ mother called 911, saying her son had summoned her. When she got home, she said, she found Brittany Eurek in Randall Robbins’ bedroom, not breathing and with red marks on her neck.

Police arrived at the Euclid Avenue duplex he and his mother and sister shared to find Robbins crying with a cloth over his head, saying, “arrest me, arrest me.”

They found Eurek on his bedroom floor. She was pronounced dead at the hospital, despite attempts to revive her.

In court records, Robbins said his doctor prescribed Zoloft for depression earlier in the year. He said his symptoms worsened and he attempted suicide by hanging himself with a belt. Then, on June 1, he held Eurek’s neck until she passed out and used the same belt to assure she was dead, the records say.

The Food and Drug Administration now advises parents that such antidepressants as Zoloft can increase suicidal thoughts and actions in some children and teens, according to its Web site.

But, the FDA says, suicidal thoughts and actions also can be caused by the depression such drugs are used to treat.

It says nothing about the drugs causing an increase in homicidal thoughts.

When asked to comment, Chris Loder in media relations at Pfizer Inc. defended Zoloft in an e-mail Friday, calling it a safe and effective medication that has been used to treat millions with depression and anxiety disorders.

And, he said, the label fully complies with all FDA-mandated requirements, including information on adverse events.

“We continuously monitor the postmarketing safety of our medicines and evaluate all available data to ascertain any signal of increased risk. Pfizer’s evaluation of Zoloft data never has revealed any signal of an increased risk of violence related to either use or discontinuation of use of Zoloft.”

Robbins is serving a 40- to 60-year sentence at the Nebraska State Penitentiary after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

He will be eligible for parole in 2022.

Reach Lori Pilger at 473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.