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Prozac 'may or may not have aided death'
By Arifa Akbar
06 June 2003
The antidepressant drug Prozac "may or may not have contributed" to the
death of a librarian who hanged herself, a coroner said yesterday.
Wendy Hay, 52, was found in the garage of her home in Arthington, near
Otley, West Yorkshire, last September.
The inquest's coroner, David Hinchliff, at Leeds coroner's court, said
no one could say with certainty whether Prozac was a contributing factor
in Mrs Hay's death. "There was evidence during the inquest that in a
minority of patients who take this drug, that it may have adverse
side-effects. This drug may or may not have contributed to Wendy Hay's
action,'' he said.
Mrs Hay, whose husband, Alastair Hay, is the Professor of Environmental
Toxicology at Leeds University, had suffered from clinical depression
since the end of 1998. She was then put on Prozac. She came off the drug
two years later but started taking it again last August after her
depression returned. She died on 17 September.
Dr David Healey, director of the North Wales Department of
Psychological Medicine in Bangor, said it was probable that the drug had a
bearing on her death. "On the balance of probabilities ... she possibly
wouldn't have committed suicide if she wasn't on this drug," he said.
After the hearing, Professor Hay said: "This was not a trial about
Prozac and I would not want to see anybody stop taking it. That is
something everybody needs to discuss with their doctor. If this inquiry
has done anything, it might have indicated that some people may be at risk
of suicide through taking their medication."
Giving a narrative verdict, the coroner recorded the circumstances
surrounding Mrs Hay's death.