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Mail on Sunday
Nov 30 1997
THE family of a man who murdered his wife then killed himself after taking Prozac is poised to sue the drug’s makers. Experts hope to prove the tragedy was caused by the drug in what could be the first case of its kind to reach a British court.
Reginald Payne threw himself from a cliff near his home in Wade-bridge, Cornwall, after suffocating his wife Sally, 66, in March last
The 63-year-old retired teacher had started a course of Prozac for depression 11 days earlier.
Richard Payne, the eldest of the couple’s four sons, said: ‘According to experts the danger period for behaviour problems is the first two weeks someone is on the drug. It seems too much of a coincidence for Prozac not to be involved.’
Prozac, hailed as the ‘sunshine drug’, is taken by 15 million people worldwide — 500,000 of them in Britain.
Many celebrities have resorted to it including rock star Michael Hutchence, found hanged in a hotel room in Sydney a week ago.
Critics say the drug can cause aggressive and suicidal behaviour.
Mr Payne, 39, a management consultant, said: ‘My parents were happily married and there had been no indication that my father would take his life.’
The family is represented by Graham Ross, a solicitor specialising in medical cases, who has been investigating the side-effects of Prozac. He said: ‘The fact that the manufacturers list suicidal tendencies and violent behaviour as possible adverse effects is so significant that doctors need to be warned.
‘Their claim that no causal relationship has been established is disputed.’
He added: ‘The allegation is that it causes akathisia — racing confusion of thoughts and actions — which induces violence towards oneself and others.’
Duncan Murchison, who runs the Prozac Survivors Support Group, claimed last night that he had received dozens of calls from people on Prozac who have suicidal or homicidal feelings.
A spokeswoman for the drug’s manufacturers, Eli Lilly, said: ‘Scientific evidence has demonstrated no causal link between Prozac and aggressive behaviour.’