|DOSAGE: Prof Hay believes Prozac played a major
part in the death of wife Wendy
PROZAC KILLED MY WIFE
BY TONY HARNEY
Prozac will come under searching examination in Leeds this week at
an inquest into the death of a top professor's wife.
Librarian and researcher Wendy Hay, 52, of north
Leeds was found hanged in September last year.
It will be the
first time in Britain that such a high-level public hearing will
examine the safety of the drug.
Professor Alistair Hay, head of
environmental toxicology at Leeds University and one of the West's
top experts in chemical and biological warfare, will tell the
inquest that he believes treatment with the "happy pill" Prozac
played a large part in the death of his wife.
evidence at the inquest will be Clive Adams, professor of adult
psychiatry at Leeds University and one of the world's acknowledged
experts on Prozac, and David Healy, consultant clinical psychologist
at the University of Bangor.
Prof Hay will tell the inquest that
his monitoring of his wife's mood swings during her treatment prove
that the drug Prozac caused suicidal surges, which eventually led to
He has since carried out his own studies into the
drug. "I believe the doses used in this country and the blanket
treatment of patients is unwise," he said.
The manufacturer of
Prozac, Eli Lilly, has engaged a top barrister to represent them in
Leeds. In a statement from its US headquarters the firm said:
"Depression is a serious, life-threatening medical condition
characterized by a variety of symptoms. Suicidal thinking and
suicidal acts are symptoms of depression – they are caused by the
disease, not by the medicines used to treat it. There is no credible
scientific evidence that establishes a causal connection between
Prozac and violent or suicidal behaviour.
"In fact, scientific
evidence shows that Prozac and other anti-depressant medications
appear to reduce these behaviours.
"The safety of Prozac is
thoroughly documented. More than 40m patients worldwide have taken
Prozac since it first came on the market in Belgium in 1986 and more
than 12,000 patients have participated in Prozac clinical trials.
Thousands of scientific papers have referenced Prozac, making it
among the most studied medications in history."
The inquest comes
just two weeks after the British Government announced that a major
inquiry is to be launched into the safety of widely prescribed
anti-depressant drugs, including Seroxat and Prozac, following a
spate of suicides and reports of severe withdrawal reactions.
The Government's medical advisers have caved in to pressure to
hold a fully independent assessment of the risks associated with the
anti-depressants known as SSRIs, or selective serotonin re-uptake
They were responding to reports of suicides among
patients taking the medication, as well as users describing
nightmares, tremors and feelings of violence.
An expert group of
the Committee on the Safety of Medicines will listen to first-hand
experiences, and investigate reports of suicidal behaviour.
02 June 2003