Safety of new, popular antidepressant questioned — (St. Petersburg Times)

Original article no longer available

St. Petersburg Times

People’s Pharmacy – Author: JOE GRAEDON, TERESA GRAEDON[]

April 29, 1990

Question: My daughter committed suicide in 1988 one month after being put on a new medicine called Prozac. She was not depressed, but Prozac was prescribed for an eating disorder.

We believe Prozac is responsible for her suicide. She did not seem suicidal before she started taking this medicine, and even the day before she hanged herself she promised to take care of her neighbors’ cat while they were on vacation.

Have you ever heard of another case of someone committing suicide while taking Prozac?

Answer: We are so sorry to hear about your daughter’s horrible death, and we extend our sympathy. We know of no similar case.

Prozac (fluoxetine) has rapidly become the most successful antidepressant of all time. Several weeks ago it was featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine, and more than 650,000 prescriptions are filled each month.

What makes Prozac so popular is its side effect profile. Instead of making people feel sluggish and drowsy, this new antidepressant is more likely to energize or stimulate.

It is far less likely to cause constipation, dry mouth or weight gain. In fact, people on Prozac may actually lose weight.

Despite its swift rise to stardom, Prozac does have a darker side. It can cause insomnia and jitteriness. Some people complain of nausea, sexual difficulties, tremor and headache.

Of greater concern is a recent report in the American Journal of Psychiatry (Feb. 1990). Psychiatrists at Harvard report that six depressed, but non-suicidal, patients developed “”intense, violent suicidal preoccupation after two to seven weeks of fluoxetine treatment.” While none of these patients committed suicide, this report does suggest that doctors warn patients of the danger of suicidal thoughts on Prozac.

There is no way to tell if Prozac was responsible for your daughter’s act. The company assures us that it has no data indicating that depressed people are more likely to think about suicide while on Prozac than while on any other treatment.

Record Number:  005