Immediately following this article is a second article which says that the school shooter at Northern Illinois University, Stephen Kazmierczak, was withdrawing from antidepressants, probably Paxil, which is the antidepressant he had taken previously.
Taken on trust
BBC One, Sunday, 3 October 2004 at 22:15 BST
We take it on trust that the drugs our doctors prescribe are safe and effective.
But this special investigation exposes huge failings in the system of medicines regulation that is supposed to monitor drug safety. It reveals how patients' lives have been put at risk as a result.
Panorama takes a unique journey inside the secret world of the medicines regulator and discovers that it's been sitting on crucial safety information about one of Britain's most widely-prescribed antidepressants for over a decade.
Click here to download or view a transcript of the programme
For the last two years, Panorama has been investigating claims that Seroxat can cause addiction, self-harm, aggression and even suicide.
The medicines regulator always denied there was evidence to back up these claims. But now the programme reveals that, not only is the evidence there, it's been lying dormant in the regulator's archive for at least 13 years.
One insider tells the programme: "I have little confidence that the drugs they're licensing day by day are being licensed in a way that I would feel appropriate and – I have very little confidence in drugs that have been regulated in the past."
What the programme uncovers has led to some of the most influential names in medicine asking if we're being told the truth about the pills that we take.
Dr Mike Shooter, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, says: "It has serious implications for the whole of psychiatry, it has serious implications for the whole of medicine."
"I think a few years down the line we are going to be talking about this with many more sorts of medication."
Forty years after the thalidomide tragedy prompted the setting up of drug safety monitoring, the regulator is accused of letting down the patients it's supposed to be there to protect.
If you have been affected by any of the issues raised by tonight's programme and want to be put in contact with an organisation that can provide information and support, you can call the BBC Action Line.
It is recommended that you do not stop taking any medication before consulting with a doctor.
The Action Line no is: 08000 688 456
The Action Line is open from 7am until midnight everyday. When the Action Line is out of hours, or when all advisors are busy on other calls, callers will be offered details of other relevant organisations.Production team:
Reporter: Shelley Jofre
Producer: Andy Bell
Associate Producer: Eleanor Plowden
Editor: Mike Robinson
Deputy Editors: Andrew Bell, Frank Simmonds
Paragraph 3 reads: "Kazmierczak, 27, was treated for mental illness nine years ago. He was considered volatile, according to a staff member who worked at the facility at the time, and violent if he stopped taking the antidepressant and anti-anxiety pills prescribed for him. Including Paxil, it was medication he was supposed to still be taking and apparently stopped a couple of weeks ago. " http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=5959663
Shooter obtained guns legally
DEKALB, Ill. (WLS) — The gunman was known as a quiet, polite, engaging student at NIU, but a darker side of Stephen Kazmierczak is now coming to light.
Authorities have not figured out what motivated the man, described as a hardworking, award-winning former honor student by NIU faculty, to go on a shooting rampage that killed five students.
Kazmierczak, 27, was treated for mental illness nine years ago. He was considered volatile, according to a staff member who worked at the facility at the time, and violent if he stopped taking the antidepressant and anti-anxiety pills prescribed for him. Including Paxil, it was medication he was supposed to still be taking and apparently stopped a couple of weeks ago.
Shortly after Kazmierczak graduated from Elk Grove Village High School in 1998, his parents became unable to handle him, according to a woman who worked as a residential manager at a psychiatric treatment center for mentally and behaviorally troubled teenagers. Kazmierczak lived at the Mary Hill Home, 7356 N. Winchester, on Chicago's Northwest Side and received psychiatric treatment for more than a year after he was diagnosed as mentally ill in the late 1990s. His parents sent him for treatment.
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"He was already on medication, but he was not taking it at home and would not follow instructions," said Louise Gbadamashi, former manager of Thresholds, the company that ran the home. She said the first thing she thought when she learned the shooter was Kazmierczak was, "he didn't take his meds. He was kind of quiet, kept to himself. He picked his friends, he was kind of passive aggressive.
"He was a cutter," said Gbadamashi. "He would cut himself. Then he would let you discover it. He wouldn't tell you, he would roll up his sleeve and ask you a question, and you'd turn around and see it."
She said Kazmierczak's expression rarely changed, so it was hard to tell if he was depressed.
"He strikes out, and you have to really know him," said Gbadamashi. "In his eye, you can see it. You can't look at him like, 'I'm angry, you're going to know it.' It's just stoic, just stoic."
Officials at Thresholds declined to comment for this report. But a former patient who lived at the group home with Kazmierczak spoke to the I-Team.
"You either take the meds and you're fine, or you don't and you snap, kind of like that. And that's all it was with him. When he didn't take his meds, he'd snap," said Jennifer, the former patient.
Hardeep Rooprai was one of his classmates and a friend. She says he told her that he'd been in a psychiatric group treatment home.
"He said he was in a group home, and he said that he was a bad kid," she said.
At their last briefing, Northern Illinois University officials said they had no evidence Kazmierczak had received psychiatric
treatment. After he finished treatment and left the group home, he enlisted in the Army but never made it out of basic training. He was "separated" from the Army. There's a report he told his girlfriend he was discharged for psychological reasons.
Despite his history, Illinois gun statutes did not preclude Kazmierczak from legally buying firearms because he had not gotten psychiatric treatment in the last five years.
Kazmierczak studied sociology, acting as a graduate teaching assistant and mentor to undergrads at NIU, before going to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for graduate school.
His faculty adviser, U of I professor Jan Carter-Black, said she's stunned. Carter-Black said she "saw nothing to suggest that there was anything troubling about his behavior."
In 2006, he was a dean's list student and officer on a student criminal justice organization.
Police said Kazmierczak started acting erratically after he stopped taking his medication. That medication and his condition are not known.
Alexandra Chapman was a friend of Kazmierczak.
"He was one of the most genuine people I have ever met. I want people to know that he was a really great person, that he was just a really great guy, he was so kind and would always do anything for you. So it doesn't make sense. I just don't want people to think of him as a monster," said Chapman.
All four of the weapons sued in the attack were legally purchased from a Champaign store, Tony's Gun Shop. Kazmierczak moved to the area in 2007.
Because Kazmierczak had no criminal record and did not cite any psychiatric hospitalization in his past, he obtained a valid Illinois Firearms Owners Identification Card.
Two of the guns- a high-point 380 handgun, a compact pistol with an 8 round magazine, and a Sig Sauer 9mm luger with a 13-round clip, were purchased last year. The handgun was purchased on December 31, 2007 and the Sig Sauer was purchased in August.
The two other guns — a Remington shotgun and Glock 9-mm pistol with a 15 round magazine– were purchased on February 9, 2008, just five days before the shooting.
Kazmierczak carried the Remington shotgun, which he fired first and reloaded several times, according to witnesses, in a guitar case.
Kazmierczak grew up in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village and graduated from Elk Grove High School in 1998 with a 'B' average. His mother died shortly after his parents moved to Lakeland, Florida last year. His father did not want to talk to reporters.
"No comment, OK?" said Robert Kazmierczak, NIU gunman's father. "This is a very hard time."
The key to unlocking the mystery of Kazmierczak may be his mental health history. While officials said he was off his medication, they have yet to identify what drugs the 27-year-old was taking.
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