Newsreader Chairmane Dragun who killed herself took risky antidepressant mixture — (The Australian)

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Newsreader Chairmane Dragun who killed herself took risky antidepressant mixture

by: Jodie Minus

From:The Australian

March 09, 2010 12:00AM


Zoloft:Supplied in Australia by Pfizer and used to treat depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and social phobia.  Charmaine Dragun was prescribed this from 1996 to 2003 after suffering from anorexia and depression.    She stopped taking it because she was having “inauthentic feelings”.Effexor (Ventafaxine):

Supplied in Australia by Wyeth and used for the treatment and prevention of relapse of depression and panic attacks and in the treatment of anxiety; including avoidance or fear of social situations.  Six weeks after Dragun stipped taking Zoloft her mood dived and she was prescribed Effexor, which she took for about three years from late 2003 until the time of her death in November 2007.



Supplied in Australia by Lundmeck and used to treat depression, anxiety and panic disorders.   Three weeks before Dragun’s death one of her doctors prescribed Lexapro to replace Effexor, which she was weaned off gradually.


Date/Time: 2010:03:09 00:25:32 Source: The Australian

SYDNEY newsreader Charmaine Dragun was taking a risky combination of antidepressant medication when she was seen looking agitated and rehearsing ways to jump before she leapt to her death from an ocean cliff.

An inquest, which began yesterday into the 29-year-old Ten Network newsreader’s death in November 2007, heard a gruelling 12-minute triple-0 call made by witness Anthony Sklavos, who spotted Dragun on the wrong side of the safety fence at The Gap, a well-known suicide spot at Watsons Bay in Sydney’s east.

“It looks like she could be a jumper,” Mr Sklavos told the operator. “I’m so tense right now. She’s over the fence. The police are here; I can see them . . . there’s a police female officer walking towards her. And she’s making those motions again . . . she’s bending up. Oh, she’s gonna jump, she just jumped, she just jumped!”

Dragun’s family, including her mother, Estelle, and fiance Simon Struthers, left the courtroom as the call was played at Glebe Coroner’s Court before Deputy Coroner Malcolm MacPherson.

Earlier in the day, counsel assisting the coroner, David Hirsch, read out Dragun’s medical history from 1996 when she started taking the antidepressant Zoloft. On October 27, 2007, a week before her death, Dragun began reducing her dose of the drug Effexor and started on a new medication, Lexapro. The same day and the following day, friends described her behaviour as “disturbing” and “out of character”.

On October 29, Dragun made a decision to increase her dose of Lexapro from 5mg a day to 10mg.

On November 2, Dragun phoned a friend to organise concert tickets, took the car to be serviced and then drove to The Gap.

Mr Hirsch said Dragun had been diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 1996 but there were indications she may have been suffering from bipolar disorder and if this diagnosis had been made, then according to the Effexor manufacturer she should not have been given this medication.

According to product information statements, suicide is a known risk of depression and patients of Effexor should be monitored closely at the beginning of a course of treatment or a change in dose, while patients starting Lexapro are also warned about negative side effects, including hypermania and mood swings.

The inquest continues.