Suicide and pharma drugs

Drug Update

Private Eye June 29, 2001

CONCERNS that fashionable anti-depressants like Prozac and Seroxat might be linked to suicide prompted the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) to instruct the drug manufacturers to issue a health warning.

Eli Lilly, which makes top-selling Prozac, was told to include the caution: "Occasionally thoughts of suicide or self-harm may occur or may increase in the first few weeks of treatment with Prozac, until the anti-depressant effect becomes apparent. Tell your doctor immediately if you have any distressing thoughts or experiences."

Eli Lilly could not contemplate mentioning "suicide" in the same breath as its soaraway ‘miracle" drug Prozac and so entered "negotiations" with the MCA over the wording.

With full MCA approval, the health warning now reads: ‘The symptoms of depressions may include thoughts of harming yourself or committing suicide. Until the full anti-depressant effect becomes apparent, it is possible that these symptoms of depressions may increase in the flu few weeks of treatment. Tell you doctor..."

Conveniently the word Prozac disappears. Not surprisingly other drug manufacturers, like SmithKline Beecham, which makes Seroxat, ha’ also entered "negotiations" with the MCA.

The MCA is of course headed by a former top executive at SmithKline, Dr Ian Hudson.