Bonnie Leitsch — (1991 FDA Hearings)

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Department Of Health And Human Services Public Health Service Food And Drug Administration

FDA Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Hearings

Friday, September 20, 1991

Bonnie Leitsch?
MS. LEITSCH: I am the National Director for the Prozac Survivors Support Group, an organization consisting of Prozac survivors and the families of people who did not survive. I personally have interviewed and talked with over 400 people who have been prescribed Prozac for various reasons, for weight loss, to stop smoking, and the story is always the same. They are free of suicide before taking Prozac and the scenario is they go on the doctor and when they are on the drug they become suicidal. They go off the drug and they are no longer suicidal.

Well, I’m not a doctor, but I wouldn’t think you would have to be a mental heavyweight to soon figure that Prozac played a part in the suicidal ideations.

Doctors say that this problem with Prozac, all that is needed is for this drug to be monitored. But what I’d like to know is how do you monitor a patient when suddenly and without warning they try to take their lives? Such as the woman in North Carolina who was cooking supper, had a load of clothes in the washer and dryer, no indication that she was going to commit suicide but, indeed, she did. She hanged herself with a belt in the middle of cooking supper.   Now how can you monitor that?

Likewise the man in Arizona, laid out his medication for the day, played gin rummy with his wife, made plans for the day, and while she was taking a shower he killed himself. How do you monitor that?

And myself, my own case. I was making icing for a Father’s Day cake when suddenly, without warning, it seemed like a swell idea to kill myself. Did I consider the consequences of that? No. Did I shoot myself?  No, because a gun wasn’t handy. Had it been handy, I’m sure I would have done that. I was, however, dead on arrival to the hospital.  Had it not been for the emergency team, I would not be here.

What I’m curious about is the people who seem to think it’s perfectly okay to have this drug on the market are people who have a vested interest. I question why this is happening. Well, we know it’s impossible for the doctors to monitor these patients, because if they had, there would not have been 800 suicides, 500 deaths associated with this drug.

And if all of this isn’t tragic enough, we are referred to as anecdotal. What does that mean? Does that mean that the people that died on this drug are not equally as dead? Does it mean that Sally Padoor, who’s grieving the loss of  her son, is not just as grieved? I think not. What that really means is that we were not in the paid-for studies of Eli Lilly.

We are the real people.  Anecdotes are the real people.  We are the people that you have unleashed this drug on.

The FDA responsibility – now, maybe we need to make this a little more clear –  is to protect the general public, not to stuff money into doctors’ and into Eli Lilly’s pocket at the expense of the general public. How dare you? You were put here to protect us. We are the general public. And who said it’s okay, who in the world said it is okay to kill one person so that another feels better? Who gives anyone here that right?

Where in this country is it all right for you to say it only kills 3.5 percent? Gentlemen, if you want to be that 3.5 percent, fine, have at it. But the general public does not want to be that 3.5 percent.

DR. CASEY:  Thank you.