|The Associated Press
I N D I A N A P O L I S,
April 6 —The maker of the anti-depressant Prozac
is condemning the latest book about the drug, calling the criticism a
fear-mongering publication filled with half-truths and personal
The author of
Prozac Backlash, released in bookstores Wednesday, claims the
popular anti-depressant and similar drugs are overused and dangerous — and
could be toxic to the brains of patients.
already know enough to indicate these drugs should be prescribed far more
cautiously,” writes Dr. Joseph Glenmullen, a psychiatrist in Cambridge,
As the book hit store shelves, Eli Lilly
and Co. issued a criticism of its own.
Glenmullen’s book is a collection of half-truths, omissions, errors and
personal anecdotes,” Lilly said in a written statement.
Lilly Calls Book
The Indianapolis drug maker began marketing Prozac
in the late 1980s. Since then, the anti-depressant has become one of the
best-selling drugs in the world.
officials worry “the book is a fear-mongering publication that may prompt
those with depression to abandon their medication and seek medically
Because of that, Lilly
spokesman Jeffrey Newton said the book is
But Glenmullen writes there is
danger ahead for many patients who turn to antidepressants to cure woes
that he says don’t warrant mind-altering
Glenmullen filled his book with
case studies of patients who’ve suffered from what he calls
anti-depressant “backlash.” These include sexual dysfunction, memory loss,
grotesque facial tics, anxiety and suicidal tendencies.
Glenmullen warns the Prozac class of drugs could go
the way of cocaine, some tranquilizers and other “mood brighteners” that
were found to be toxic to the brain.
allegations provoked sharp responses from Dr. Steven M. Paul, one of
Lilly’s top scientists.
“We’ve never found
anything like that,” Paul said of the notion that Prozac might be toxic.
“It couldn’t be further from the truth.”
rejected the book’s claims that Prozac can cause disfiguring facial
Prozac can cause muscle twitches in some
patients but to say it causes the severe tics described by Glenmullen “is
unconscionable,” said Paul, group vice president of Lilly Research
Laboratories and a former scientific director at the National Institute of
This isn’t the first time Lilly
has defended Prozac.
In the early 1990s, the
Church of Scientology raised criticism.
Peter R. Breggin, a Maryland psychiatrist, wrote two books critical of
Prozac in 1994 and 1999.
Backlash is packed with footnotes, which could indicate the debate may
come down to a question of whose studies to
For example, Glenmullen cites studies
showing the Prozac class of antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction in up
to 60 percent of users.
Paul contends Prozac
causes “20 to 30 percent, max” of mild to moderate sexual
“For every footnote he cited
[showing high rate of sexual dysfunction] I can show you other citations
with larger numbers of patients that say just the opposite,” Paul
The book worries officials at the
National Mental Health Association, said Laura Young, vice president of
“My fear with books like
this is it scares people away from getting the really important treatment
they need ... and they may mess around with herbal
Glenmullen, a graduate of
Harvard Medical School, said in his book he believes Prozac and similar
drugs do help some people, and he still prescribes the drugs to some
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“We already know
enough to indicate these drugs should be prescribed far more
Psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Glenmullen