When do risks outweigh so-called benefits?

There is only one antidepressant, also known as a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI), that is still recommended in the UK for use in children and adolescents diagnosed with moderate to severe depression.

The premise upon which these psychiatric drugs are given a license rests on the idea that benefits outweigh the risks. With that in mind, CCHR made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the UK drug regulator, called the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), asking for data.

The request centred on the number of Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) Reports the MHRA had received in association with the use of the antidepressant called fluoxetine, prescribed to children and adolescents aged 8 years and over.

The MHRA complied with the request, and stated the following:

“As of 16th January 2017 we have received a total of 186 UK spontaneous ADR reports in association with fluoxetine in children since authorisation was granted for use in children in August 2006. Of  those 186 reports, 8 were reported as having a fatal outcome.”

This response raises a problem concerning psychiatric drugs – when do risks outweigh so-called benefits for the prescribing of antidepressants to children and adolescents?

If there were eight fatalities as a result of eating a certain brand of Baked Beans, it’s likely the product would be pulled off the supermarket shelves immediately and given considerable media attention. Despite the fatalities associated with this drug, prescriptions for fluoxetine, also known as Prozac, continue.

It’s therefore important that parents are fully informed about the effects of any psychiatric drug prescribed to their children. Fluoxetine, aka Prozac, is no exception.

While difficult to confront, the following is a list of young lives, reported in the media, that have been lost. In each case, fluoxetine or Prozac were reported to have been prescribed.

  • In September 2010, 10-year-old Harry Hucknall hanged himself in his bedroom. He had been prescribed Ritalin and Prozac.
  • In March 2013, 14-year-old Jake McGill-Lynch died of a self inflicted gunshot wound, 46 days after being prescribed Prozac.
  • In April 2013, 17-year-old Michaela Christoforou hanged herself in a specialist treatment centre for eating disorders in North London. She had been prescribed fluoxetine at the centre, and the dosage had been increased shortly before her death.
  • In June 2013, 15-year-old George Werb died when he was struck by a train. He was initially prescribed fluoxetine after which he became suicidal and withdrew from the drug. He was prescribed the drug again at a branch of the Priory. He stepped in front of a train on the line that ran near his home in Devon.
  • In December 2013, 15-year-old Patrick Roberts hanged himself in a park near his Hertfordshire home. He had been on Prozac for about one month before his death.
  • In March 2014, 14-year-old Tom Boomer died when he fell from a multi-story car park. Eleven days before his death, Tom had been prescribed Prozac.
  • In May 2014, 16-year-old Gail McKinney took an overdose of antidepressants and died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Before the antidepressant was changed, she had been taking Prozac for two years.
  • In September2014, 16-year-old Paul Mullaly was prescribed fluoxetine by the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). The information came to light in a Serious Case Review following his death.
  • In November 2014, 15-year-old Jade Kosanlavit ran in front of a train at Port Sunlight station on the Wirral. She was prescribed fluoxetine, which she took until her death.

If you know of anyone who has been prescribed fluoxetine, and has suffered adverse reactions, or if you know of someone who has tragically died while on the drug, please contact CCHR UK, or report the abuse on the dedicated psychiatric abuse reporting site.


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