Prozac Causes Violence — (Information Sheet)

Original article no longer available

Prozac Information Sheet #2:  Prozac Causes Violence

Originally Issued 4 June 1990

Widely Used Drug Turns People Violent And Suicidal

Prozac is a new structure drug currently being promoted as a “wonder drug” for depression. The drug company’s promotion however, ignores considerable evidence which has accumulated showing how truly deadly this psychiatric drug really is.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received 5,740 reports of adverse reactions from Prozac in less than two years compared with 2,923 reports received by the FDA on the long-standing market leader, Elavil, over twenty years.(1)

The adverse reactions reported on Prozac include aggression, psychosis, hallucinations and “akathisia”, a drug-induced insanity with bizarre and frightening characteristics including hallucinations, aggression, self-destructive outbursts, terror, anger, suicide, hostility, hatred and rage.(2) Already, frightening reports of persons being turned violent and suicidal by Prozac have begun to surface.

A study recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry exposed the fact that Prozac creates obsessive and intense, violent suicidal thoughts in patients who take the drug. According to the study, these bizarre and extremely dangerous self-destructive thoughts occurred in 3.5 percent of persons on the drug.(3)

The manufacturer states that there are up to two million people on the drug, placing the total of those being given intense, violent suicidal thoughts at up to 70,000 Americans.

As noted above, FDA reports show that Prozac can cause akathisia which can include self-destructive and suicidal thoughts and behavior. This has been confirmed by the manufacturer’s literature and also by an independent study into the drug which estimated that between 10% and 25% of persons on Prozac experience akathisia.(4) These people are not being told that the drug can create insanity in them and can push them to the brink of self destruction.

In 1989, Janet Sims of Hamilton County, Indiana, was driven so intensely suicidal by Prozac that she was no longer certain she would not kill herself. Her psychiatrist persuaded her she was insane and convinced her to undergo electric shocks to her brain [at financial profit to the psychiatrist]. The shocks robbed her of her memory and destroyed much of her education, but the suicidal thoughts didn’t disappear until she stopped taking Prozac months later.(5)

The files of the FDA contain tragic reports of persons on Prozac who were no longer able to fight thoughts pushing them to suicide. For instance, the reports stated, “This patient was reported to have died by suicide, (carbon monoxide poisoning) while on Prozac therapy” (submitted by Lilly to the FDA in May, 1989), “This patient died by hanging” (submitted by Lilly to the FDA in July, 1989), “Patient suicided herself by jumping under the train” (submitted by Lilly to the FDA in September of 1989).(6)

Even psychotic acts of murder have been perpetrated by persons on Prozac. On September 14, Joseph Wesbecker went into the Standard Gravure building in Louisville, Kentucky, and opened fire, killing eight former coworkers and wounding twelve others before killing himself. According to the Jefferson County Coroner, Wesbecker had a high therapeutic level of Prozac in his blood at the time of his rampage.(7) Concerned that Prozac may have contributed to Wesbecker’s rampage, the coroner asked the drug’s manufacturer whether any other acts of violence connected with Prozac had been reported to the company and was told that the company had no documented reports of violence from Prozac at all.(8)

However documents released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Food and Drug Administration show that, contrary to the denials of Eli Lilly, there had been several reports to the drug company of violence on Prozac. The documents show that these reports were all received by Lilly prior to the call which was placed by the coroner to Lilly regarding the possible role of Prozac in the Wesbecker killings.

These reports confirmed that Prozac can and does turn people hostile, aggressive and violent. Some of these reports stated, “This patient became agitated and violent after third dose of Prozac” (submitted by Lilly to the FDA in April, 1989); “‘Shortly after Prozac was increased to 80 mg daily patient became extremely violent” (submitted by Lilly to the FDA in July, 1989), “This patient was reported to have become manic with prominent paranoid ideation while taking Prozac. Patient… illegally entered the house of an unknown family and required considerable restraint before being brought under control” (submitted to Lilly to the FDA in August, 1989), and “The dosage was increased to 40 mg and the patient experienced an intense homicidal rage. She made plans to kill a man from her past” (submitted by Lilly to the FDA in July, 1988).(9)

Another report submitted to the FDA in July of 1988, more than a year prior to the Wesbecker rampage, states “This patient became very aggressive while taking Prozac; after one week on the drug he had an argument with another motorist & attempted to run over him with his car.”(10)

One of Wesbecker’s coworkers, James Lucas, testified at the inquest that he was turned violent and attacked his wife with a ballpoint pen after seven weeks on Prozac. He said that prior to taking Prozac he had never so much as raised his hand to his wife in thirty-five years of marriage.(11)

Additionally, Lucas pointed out that persons on Prozac are not capable of recognizing the violent insanity which the drug is generating. He said that it must be pointed out to the person by others around him.

The jury at the inquest recognized the possible connection of the violence to Prozac and ruled that “the effects of the ‘drugs Mr. Wesbecker was taking may have been a contributory factor” to the rampage.(12)

In early 1990 ten survivors of Wesbecker’s rampage petitioned Congress to look into the violence-inducing nature of Prozac, and to determine whether other cases of violence across the country have been precipitated by the drug as well.(13)

On January 13, 1989, in Madison, Wisconsin, Catherine Rouse murdered another person and then committed suicide. According to the coroners Rouse had a therapeutic level of Prozac in her blood at the time she went berserk.(14)

Despite the evidence which shows that Prozac generates violence and suicides the manufacturer of the drug has refused to issue a warning to the millions who have been exposed to the irresponsible hype about the drug. As a result many more Americans will be turned hostile, violent and suicidal by the drug unless action is taken now to bring this warning to the public.

This information was originally printed and distributed as a public service by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), Clearwater, Florida. CCHR has been investigating and exposing psychiatric violations of human rights since 1969.

Footnotes:

1. FDA Spontaneous Reporting System printout on Prozac dated 10 October 1989, and on Elavil dated 14 November 1989, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the FDA.

2. An in-depth description of akathisia is presented at Theodore Van Puttent “The Many Faces of Akathisia”, Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. XVI (January/February 1975), pp. 43-47.

3. Martin H. Teicher, et al, “Emergence of Intense Suicidal Preoccupation During Fluoxetine Treatment,” The American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 147, No. 2, (February 1990) pp. 207-210.

4. J. Lipinski and others, “Fluoxetine-induced akathisia: clinical and theoretical implications,” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 50 (September 1989), pp. 339-342.

5. Affidavit of Janet Sims of 16 March 1990, on file with CCHR.

6. Drug Experience Report on Prozac (f luoxetine), Accession numbers 89050703603271, 89070703600341, 89090703600241 respectively released under FOIA from the Food and Drug Administration.

7. “Toxicology Sheet of Joseph Wesbecker” prepared by Dr. Richard Greathouse, Coroner of Jefferson County, Kentucky.

8. Transcript of Proceedings Jefferson County Coroner’s Inquest, November 22, 1989, pp. 291-292.

9. Drug Experience Report on Prozac (fluoxetine), Accession numbers 89040703607252, 89070703601481, 89080703602421, 88070703600181 respectively, released under FOIA from the Food and Drug Administration.

10. Drug Experience Report on Prozac (fluoxetine), Accession number 88070703690341, released under FOIA from the Food and Drug Administration.

11. Transcript of Proceedings, Jefferson County Coroner’s Inquest, November 22, 1989, pp. 253-254.

12. Jefferson County Coroner’s Inquest findings of November 22, 1989.

13. Letter from Wesbecker survivors to Senators and Representatives, dated January 30, 1990.

14. Coroner’s Investigation of Death/Inquisition, Dane County Coroner’s office, pertaining to the deaths of Catherine Rouse and Joan Kebick, January 13, 1990.

This information was originally printed and distributed as a public service by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), Clearwater, Florida. CCHR has been investigating and exposing psychiatric violations of human rights since 1969.

Suggested Reading:

Talking Back to Prozac by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.

Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry : Drugs, Electroshock, and the Role of the FDA Today! by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.

Toxic Psychiatry : Why Therapy, Empathy, and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the New Psychiatry by Peter R. Breggin, M.D.

The Manufacture of Madness : A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movements by Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., Professor

Law, Liberty, and Psychiatry : An Inquiry into the Social Uses of Mental Health Practices by Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., Professor

Bedlam : Greed, Profiteering, and Fraud in a Mental Health System Gone Crazy by Joe Sharkey

The Limits of Biological Treatments for Psychological Distress by Seymour Fisher and Roger P. Greenberg