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Yorkshire Evening Post
By Grant Woodward
A YOUNG mum claims Prozac caused her to carry out terrifying robberies on children – re-igniting the debate about the controversial drug. Amy Totton, of Bramley, Leeds, blamed the drug’s side-effects on her “inexplicable” behaviour which led to her threatening to slit a young girl’s throat.
The 21-year-old was prescribed Prozac for post-natal depression, but says it instead led her to carry out the spate of street muggings.
Last week, UK watchdogs urged doctors to exercise more caution in prescribing the anti-depressant after research questioned its effect on people suffering from depression or anxiety.
There are also growing calls for Prozac to no longer be given to children, a move already recommended by European experts.
Amy Totton was sentenced to three years in prison at Leeds Crown Court in March after pleading guilty to two robberies, two thefts, an attempted robbery and having an offensive weapon.
The court heard she told her victims, aged around 14, to hand over their mobile phones and on one occasion produced the knife.
She appealed against the term at London’s Appeal Court.
Her legal representative argued she should have been “given the benefit of the doubt” due to the possible aggressive side-effects of the drug.
However, her appeal was rejected by Mr Justice Mackay who said he disagreed with a defence witness who concluded Prozac had been a major factor in what was otherwise an “inexplicable crescendo of criminal behaviour”.
Instead, he favoured the Crown’s expert who said that, whilst the drug was likely to have contributed towards Totton’s criminal behaviour, it was not necessarily the cause of it, and upheld her three-year-sentence.
The case has further fuelled the debate surrounding Prozac and its safety. Alastair Hay, who blames the drug for contributing to his wife Wendy’s suicide two years ago, said he was convinced it DOES cause behaviour changes in those who take it.
Prof Hay, head of environmental toxicology at Leeds University, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We are talking about a drug that alters brain chemistry.
“A proportion of people will react adversely to it.
“There seems to be a rush to prescribe Prozac, and it will work for people who tolerate it.
“However, for those who don’t it seems to throw them into a very poor state.”