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  • Fluoxetine (Prozac) causes 1 in 100 people to develop severe form of anxiety and agitation

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    Friday, February 05, 2016 12:50 am Email this article

    Fluoxetine (Prozac) and other serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) increase the risk of suicide. The Boston Globe wrote an article talking about this in 2000. The article noted that…

    “Lilly’s own figures, in reports made available to the Globe, indicate that 1 in 100 previously nonsuicidal patients who took the drug in early clinical trials developed a severe form of anxiety and agitation called akathisia, causing them to attempt or commit suicide during the studies.”

    The article later notes that:

    “Yet the problems with Prozac were known even before it was introduced to the US market. Figures in a 1984 Lilly document indicated that akathisia, the severe agitation that can lead to suicide, occurs in at least 1 percent of patients, a level considered a “frequent” event, and as such must be disclosed in a company’s product literature and package inserts. But there is no such disclosure in Prozac’s US literature, and it is not clear whether the FDA panel charged with approving Prozac simply overlooked or did not have access to certain critical data of Lilly’s.

    “As a result, researchers say that most US doctors do not know to warn patients of the potentially dangerous effect which, according to published literature on the topic, can be alleviated with sedatives or by going off the drug.

    “German regulators, who eventually approved Prozac for use in that country, require a warning label about the risk of suicide and suggest the concurrent use of sedatives when necessary.

    “Akathisia is listed in Lilly’s US product literature, but as an infrequent event in Prozac users. No mention is made of its potential relationship to suicide.”

    Later the article goes on to say:

    “Lilly has also aggressively sought to discredit researchers who published data linking its product to suicide. One of its early targets was Dr. Martin Teicher, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a McLean Hospital researcher, who wrote a crucial paper on the link between suicide and Prozac in 1990; he found that 3.5 percent of patients put on Prozac either attempt or commit suicide due to severe agitation from akathisia. As a result of Lilly’s campaign, many in the psychiatric community say they believe Teicher has distanced himself from his original work. But in a rare interview with the Globe, Teicher said that he stood by his work, and that the ability of Prozac to induce suicide in a minority of patients ‘is a real phenomenon.’”


    Garnett LR. Prozac revisited: As drug gets remade, concerns about suicides surface. Boston Globe, 2000 May 7; Posted on http://ahrp.org/prozac-revisited-concerns-about-suicides-surface-boston-globe/

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