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Parents Plead for Lives of Children

Kelly Patricia O'Meara

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Two minutes doesn't seem like a lot of time. In fact, an average speaker can get in about 400 words in those 120 seconds. But on Feb. 2 of this year families adversely affected by mind-altering drugs known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) needed just the right two minutes to convince the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that its decadelong foot-dragging was costing them their children.

Glenn McIntosh, one of dozens of fathers to speak that day, in a gut-wrenching speech of just two minutes, explained how SSRIs had affected his life.

"I would like to introduce you to my daughter, Caitlin Elizabeth McIntosh. Well, it is actually only a two-dimensional image of her, but it is all I have left. She died of suicide at age 12 years, 3 months, just eight weeks after being put on Paxil and then Zoloft. Caitlin was a straight-A student in the fifth grade, a talented musician, artist and poet, who loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian. The sixth grade began, and with that, combined with the onset of puberty, this bright, sensitive girl who had once loved going to school, started having some trouble coping, as many kids do in the sixth grade. It's a tough adjustment. She was also having some problems sleeping due to a mild seizure disorder.

"We wanted to help, of course, so we took her to our family physician, who prescribed her Paxil. He said it would help with her coping and her sleep. She didn't do well on it at all, so he took her off it cold turkey, which you are not supposed to do. When we saw a psychiatrist a week later, he put her on Zoloft. She then started having strong suicidal ideations, along with severe agitation known as akathisia, and hallucinations, and she was put in the adolescent ward of a mental hospital to 'balance her meds.'

"Well, there, things only got worse, as she was put on other strong psychotropic drugs to treat the symptoms that we now know were actually caused by the SSRIs. And let me be very, very clear about something: The dramatic and severe symptoms that led to my daughter's suicide manifested only after she started taking antidepressant drugs.

"The downward spiral continued until Jan. 5, 2000, when she hung herself with her shoelaces in the girl's bathroom in the middle school she was attending. We were told that antidepressants like Paxil and Zoloft were wonder drugs, that they were safe and effective for children. We were lied to. The pharmaceutical companies have known for years that these drugs could cause suicide in some patients. Why didn't we? I implore you, ban the use of antidepressants here in the United States so that other parents will not have to endure the pain I've felt and other children might be saved."

The panel of more than 30 medical and psychiatric experts, despite being overwhelmed by apparently contrived data suggesting no correlation between the SSRIs and suicidality and aggressive behavior, heard the pleas of these parents and recommended to the FDA that warnings be added to the drug labels of the 10 leading SSRIs.

This week, the FDA took the panel's recommendation and issued a Public Health Advisory "asking manufacturers to change the labels of 10 drugs to include stronger cautions and warnings." The antidepressants affected by the FDA's "request" for stronger cautions and warnings include Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Serzone and Remeron.

The FDA has yet to go as far as Great Britain, which earlier this year banned the use of these drugs, excluding Prozac, in children younger than 18 [see Will British Ban Spur FDA to Act? in the Feb. 17-March 1 issue of Insight]. Based on never-before-seen clinical-trial data provided by the pharmaceutical companies, the British concluded that of the seven antidepressants that were under review - Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Effexor and Prozac - four (Zoloft, Celexa, Paxil and Effexor) increased the rate of self-harm; two (Lexapro and Luvox) had no clinical-trial data available to make a decision and only Prozac had a favorable risk/benefit ratio.

The FDA reportedly is studying the possible risks of SSRIs and adolescent use and is expected to make a decision this summer. It should have been done long ago. Insight has published investigative reports exposing this pharmaceutical outrage. See links.

Kelly Patricia O'Meara is an investigative reporter for Insight. She has published more than 20 articles exposing outrages associated with prescription drugs/mental health. To access these articles, visit Insight's Investigative Archives.

Read this article on the Insight magazine website. Reprinted with permission.

Posted: 3/28/04



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