Magazine article Variety

"In Too Many Cases, Psychiatric Drugs Cause or Contribute to Horrendous Acts of Violence"

Magazine article Variety

"In Too Many Cases, Psychiatric Drugs Cause or Contribute to Horrendous Acts of Violence"

Article excerpt

Huge efforts have been made by the pharmaceutical industry to prevent the public and the health professions from knowing that antidepressant drugs can cause violence and suicide.

Joe Wesbecker had threatened his co-workers in the past, but had never been violent. In 1989, Wesbecker was placed on Prozac (fluoxetine). One month later, he became agitated and delusional. Suspecting Prozac as the cause, his psychiatrist stopped the antidepressant. Two days later, with most of the drug remaining in his system, a heavily armed Wesbecker walked into his former place of work in Louisville, Ky., where he killed eight people and wounded many others.

Survivors and families of the deceased sued Eli Lilly for negligence in developing and marketing Prozac, and the case went to trial in 1994. A consortium of lawyers and an Indiana court had appointed me to be medical and scientific expert for more than 100 combined product liability suits against Eli Lilly concerning violence and suicide caused by Prozac. In that role, I became the scientific and medical expert in the Wesbecker case.

The lawyer handling the Wesbecker case died, and when the new attorney took over, he seemed to thwart every attempt I made to help us both prepare for triaL He did not tell me about huge amounts of new information, wouldn't talk with me on the phone. The night before the trial, he still refused to discuss anything with me, and in frustration, I shoved a carefully prepared series of notecards into his hand, saying, "You must ask me these questions or we'll lose the trial."

When I testified the following day, the attorney tried to stifle some of my most telling testimony in support of his case against Eli Lilly. Several jurors voted to find the company negligent, but Lilly won the trial by a 9-3 vote. One more vote against the company, and it would have been a hung jury. Eli Lilly and the major media reported the trial as if it had wholly and forever exonerated Prozac and the company.

Afterward, I couldn't figure out if the lawyer in the Wesbecker case was incompetent or, as my wife Ginger suspected, he had been bought in advance by Eli Lilly to throw the case. The trial judge, John Potter, later discovered that the trial had indeed been fixed.

Judge Potter threw out the rigged jury trial and changed the result to settled "with prejudice" by the drug company. This time major media failed to cover the incredible turnabout in the case. Although I have written about it extensively in my book "Medication Madness" (2008), the real outcome of the trial to this day remains relatively unknown even among psychiatric and legal experts.

COLUMBINE

In 1999, Eric Harris, along with Dylan Klebold, slaughtered students and a faculty member at Columbine High School in Colorado. …

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