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MagazineJune 1993 (Vol. 4 Issue 3)Prozac

Fluoxetine under the brand name Prozac was introduced by Eli Lilly in 1987 as a safer kind of antidepressant

Fluoxetine under the brand name Prozac was introduced by Eli Lilly in 1987 as a safer kind of antidepressant. Experience, however, suggests that far from being safer, Prozac may be highly dangerous for the person taking the tablets and for those aro

In the US, Eli Lilly currently faces more than 100 civil law suits from people claiming that Prozac led them to suicidal and violent thoughts and actions.

In some cases the level of violence involved is horrific: one man shot and killed eight people at his workplace and injured a dozen others before killing himself; a woman attacked her mother, biting her more than 20 times, leaving bite sized pieces of flesh on the floor.

Despite growing concern, the US Food and Drug Administration decided in 1991 there was no evidence that Prozac had been instrumental in the violence. Writing in Townsend Letter for Doctors (February/March 1993), however, medical investigative reporter Gary Null points out that everyone on the FDA committee had a vested interest in giving the drug a clean bill of health and so refused to consider vital evidence being put forward by critics of Prozac.

In the UK, Ian Oswald wrote to the BMJ (26 October 1991) pointing out that a supposedly impartial report vindicating Prozac that it had published earlier (BMJ 21 September 1991) was anything but independent.

"At a time when the manufacturer is facing litigation, the corporate defence attorneys will be pleased by the journal having published a piece authored wholly by the manufacturer's employees," he commented dryly.

Leaving aside the odd alleged murderous rampage, other side effects associated with Prozac are disorders of the nervous system, such as tardive dystonia (TD), where the muscles involuntarily twitch or go into spasm; anxiety, nervousness and insomnia; anorexia; seizures; severe skin rashes; and vasculitis a potentially fatal inflammation of the blood vessels.

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