Guilty

David Healy, MD
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Days of Reckoning?

A little over a year ago, there was consternation in psychiatric circles as a French psychiatrist, Daniele Canarelli was found guilty after her patient hacked a man to death. She had not recogized the hazard he posed. Doctors didn’t like the implications they saw.

In a series of lectures I have raised the question as to how long it might be before doctors would be found guilty for a suicide or homicide linked to an antidepressant, given that we have known that these drugs can cause suicide or homicide for over 50 years. See RxISK’s Violence Zone.

New Zealand

In March 2008 17-year old Toran Henry who was on Fluoxetine (Prozac) committed suicide, fifteen days after starting the drug. Maria Bradshaw, his mother, convinced that the drug had caused the problem refused to have his death attributed to a depression or other disorder he didn’t have.

Unbeknownst to her, the company that marketed it in New Zealand, Mylan, had looked internally at the case and decided their drug had caused Toran’s death. Maria had to fight to get this information. Mylan withheld their assessment and forced her to get the High Court to agree she was her child’s legal representative.

Following her efforts for her son, Maria and others formed CASPER, a New Zealand based organization aimed at raising awareness of suicide and the role that treatments like the antidepressants can play in provoking this. It is now spreading to other countries and its profile is rising steadily.

Old Zealand

Meanwhile, in 2011 in Old Zealand (Denmark) Danilo Terrida, 20, committed suicide eleven days after he was prescribed antidepressants following an eight-minute-long conversation with a doctor.

The doctor never followed up on the consultation and was recently found responsible for the suicide by the National Agency for Patients’ Rights and Complaints.

The health agency, Sundhedsstyrelsen, has decided to make it harder for doctors to prescribe antidepressants to 18-to-24-year-olds after Danilo’s suicide.

From now on, young patients will have to face an assessment and an in-depth conversation with a doctor before antidepressants can be prescribed.

“Along with the Danilo case, there have been other cases that we, as the oversight authority, are not satisfied with. That is why we are now tightening the rules for this vulnerable group,” Sundhedsstyrelsen spokesperson Anne Mette Dons told TV2 News.

Danilo’s family said that they were pleased that the rules had been tightened for prescribing antidepressants.

“It doesn’t change the fact that we have lost our son,” Danilo’s mother, Marianne Terrida, told Jyllands-Posten newspaper. “The fact that it’s a dangerous drug is not new, it’s been known a long time.”

Guilty?

The case has sparked a debate in Zealand about the dangers of psychiatric drugs, and in Politiken newspaper Peter Gøtzsche, medical researcher and leader of the Nordic Cochrane Center at Copenhagen’s Rigshospitalet, wrote that antidepressants have caused healthy people to commit suicide.

“It is true that depression increases the risk of suicide, but antidepressants increase it even more, at least up until the age of 40,” he wrote.

He added that psychiatric medication often does more harm than good and that patients would often be better off without medication.

“Doctors cannot cope with the paradox that drugs that can be useful for short-term treatment can be highly dangerous when used for years and even create the illnesses that they were supposed to prevent, or even bring on an even worse illness,” Gøtzsche wrote.

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This post originally appeared on DavidHealy.org

“My studies in this area lead me to a very uncomfortable conclusion: Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market, as doctors are unable to handle them.  It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good.”  –  Peter Gøtzsche

11 COMMENTS

    • If you go back to an early paper that suggested that fluoxetine (Prozac) might induce suicidal ideation, the author (Martin Teicher at Harvard Medical School), presented a series of cases in which intense suicidal ideation began after the drug was started and subsided when the drug was stopped. That suggests something other than unmasking. IN some cases, people feel an urge to self mutilate even thought they had never had those types of urges before. Teicher’s report caused a firestorm in psychiatry and Dr. Teicher was heavily criticized for raising this concern. Dr. Healy has written about this in his books.
      There have since been double blinded studies in which there was a higher incidence of suicide thoughts, acts, and self-harm in those on active drug. Even if the etiologic hypothesis above is correct, it still suggests that there is a risk and that people need to be adequately warned.
      I do applaud you for raising these concerns. they are not often brought up here. I hope you find your questions are addressed in a respectful manner.

      • In May of 2012 I wrote an essay here on MIA called- “The Big Chill: Psychiatric Drugs Are Now on Trial For Murder,”- that told of a recent murder trial verdict where Prozac was ruled by the judge to be the sole cause of a homicide. Peter Breggin’s testimony convinced the court.

        It seemed a very logical next step, that soon judges would start finding prescribers accountable for suicides and homicides.

          • They might actually talk with the person for a while to see what is going on with the person! Gee, what a radical idea, talking with the person to see what is causing them to feel the way that they do.

            Too much of the time most psychiatrists just pull out the script pad after ten or fifteen minutes and write a prescription for the toxic drugs and don’t seem to give the person a second thought. Then, there is often very little follow up with the person, other than to maybe give them a three month’s supply of the drugs. This is what is going to finally get them into trouble and into the courts eventually here in this country. All they ever do is give the drugs without a thought to actually interacting with the person they’re drugging.

          • Stephen,

            The problem is that to psychiatrists, once a person is labeled, they are no longer a person, the person becomes merely the diagnosis. Which, by the way, is an insane and almost incomprehensibly disrespectful belief system to your patients, psychiatrists.

            And you are right, Registeredforthissight, the psychiatrists have no clue how their drugs will affect any particular person, they just make believe their toxic drugs are beneficial to patients.

  1. It is very good news when a psychiatrist faces criminal prosecution for what they do. I hope we have a case like this soon in the United States. Although lawsuits have been won over this issue (drug-induced suicides and homicides), the general public hardly knows of them, and the doctors involved pay no penalty for their depraved indifference to human life (part of the standard for second-degree murder in many states), as their insurance companies defend them and pay any money judgement against them. Just a handful of criminal prosecutions should convince these people to at least be more careful, although no punishment can give people a conscience if they don’t have one already.

  2. Hi David, thanks for this post. I sometimes think about the ethics of compulsory treatment.

    I should mention, as someone who lives in New Zealand, I can’t say that I have seen any significant behaviour change in the prescribing of the psychiatrists here. As for a debate about the uses of medications for young people, let me tell you of one encounter I had. One psychiatrist told me that a patient who refuses medications for her bipolar must be incompetent as someone who is competent would realise that the medication was in her best interest….that was a couple of years ago now but post 2008. Julia

    • Oh dear, what is being taught in universities these days? It reminds me of what our chief psychiatrist wrote to me in a letter. He asserts that inference validates premise. Of course the whole letter in response to a complaint demonstrated that he was a better spin doctor than chief psychiatrist.