Prescription Drugs May Trigger Killing: Experts in a Lawsuit against the Manufacturer of Luvox Say That the Antidepressant May Have Tipped Eric Harris from Being a Troubled Teen to a Cold-Blooded Murderer. (Special Report)

By O'Meara, Kelly Patricia | Insight on the News, September 23, 2002 | Go to article overview

Prescription Drugs May Trigger Killing: Experts in a Lawsuit against the Manufacturer of Luvox Say That the Antidepressant May Have Tipped Eric Harris from Being a Troubled Teen to a Cold-Blooded Murderer. (Special Report)


O'Meara, Kelly Patricia, Insight on the News


The kid spoke unsteadily: "I was sitting on a hill outside the school eating lunch with my best friend when Eric Harris came over and started shooting me. I was shot between seven and 13 times. No one really knows the exact number because there were so many bullet tracks. Most of the bullets just went right through me. After I was shot I just lay there, playing dead, and could see others being shot."

These are the recollections of 19-year-old Mark Taylor, who spent nearly two months in the hospital and has endured three years of follow-up operations for the gunshot wounds he received during the murderous 1999 rampage of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Taylor slowly is recovering from his wounds and, in an effort to bring attention to what he believes was the cause of Harris' deadly rage, has filed a lawsuit against Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc., the manufacturer of Luvox (Fluvoxamine), the antidepressant that Harris had been prescribed and was taking at the time of the shooting spree. Despite the deadly assault against him, Taylor's perception of the young men who nearly killed him is surprising.

Taylor tells INSIGHT, "I'm suing Solvay because I believe that Eric Harris did what he did because of this drug. I didn't personally know Eric, but I knew him as one of the `Trench Coat Mafia.' Everybody thought Eric and Dylan were the nicest people. My cousin, who was in Eric's class, told me that Eric and Dylan used to bring her flowers and cookies. Eric was forced onto these drugs and I feel sorry for him, like so many other kids who are put on these drugs. I don't have ill feelings against him since I don't think you can hold him accountable, because he didn't know what he was doing." Taylor's lawsuit against Solvay claims that the mindaltering drug Luvox was the cause of Harris' rampage--that the drug made Harris manic and psychotic.

Luvox is in a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that interact with the serotonergic system in the brain, as do Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil. Street drugs that interact with the serotonergic system include LSD and Ecstasy. The Food and Drug Administration approved Luvox in 1997 for treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder in children, but not for treatment of depression.

The Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) records that, during controlled clinical trials of Luvox, manic reactions developed in 4 percent of children. Mania is defined as "a form of psychosis characterized by exalted feelings, delusions of grandeur ... and over-production of ideas." Court records show that the prescription for Harris had been filled 10 times between April 1998 and March 1999, and that three-and-a-half months before the shooting the dose had been increased--a common thread many experts say they are finding prior to adverse reactions to psychotropic drugs. The autopsy on Harris revealed a "therapeutic level" of Luvox in his system.

Other school shooters on antidepressants at the time of their attacks include 15-year-old Kip Kinkel who, while on Prozac, killed his parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on classmates, killing two and wounding 22 others; 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush, on "antidepressants" when she wounded one student at Bishop Neumann High School in Williamsport, Pa.; and 18-year-old Jason Hoffman, on Effexor and Celexa when he wounded one teacher and three students at Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, Calif.

The medical histories of scores of "school shooters" have not been revealed, allegedly to protect the minor child. Ann Blake Tracy is a consultant in Taylor's lawsuit and director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness. She holds a doctorate in biological psychology and is a specialist in what she believes are the adverse reactions to SSRI medications. She says Luvox caused Harris to go on the Columbine shooting spree and thinks the medical history of children who commit violent acts in school should be made public. …

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