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Published: April 1994 - Issue # 8

A couple of weeks ago, the phone rang at 9:30 in the evening. The caller advised Echo Germanica: "CBC is airing a report about the drug Prozac on Prime Time News, right now. Please, tape it!"

We jammed the tape into the video recorder, turned the TV set on and hit the recording button. The recording starts out with the voice of a woman: "...the glittering myth of Prozac as *panacea is a long way from its medical specifications for depression. Prozac’s become a 90’s urban legend. Actually, no one knows if it does anything at all to people..."

(*panacea: a remedy for all diseases or ills; cure-all / Worldbook Dictionary)

The woman’s tone of voice was typical of a news reporter: sweet and cheerful. For the uninformed viewer, this report about the psychiatric drug Prozac, manufactured by Eli Lilly and Co., must have been confusing. For the informed viewer, the report was shocking - a slap in the face - as it could easily be interpreted as an endorsement of the drugging of a nation with a psychiatric drug of the worst kind.

Still Echo Germanica was surprised when during the following days readers approached us and wanted to know: "What is your opinion about the Prozac report?" Only when full page articles about Prozac appeared in major Canadian newspapers without ever touching on the known facts about this more than controversial psychiatric drug, did we decide that we’d better inform our readers.

What are the known data about Prozac? As an answer we bring you some excerpts from an American magazine called FREEDOM, famous for its diligent research:

"...documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that both Eli Lilly and Co., manufacturer of Prozac, and officials of the FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) were aware that at least 27 deaths (during clinical trials) had been linked to Prozac’s use before the drug was released."

Why did the FDA release Prozac onto the market despite this evidence and contrary to its own practice with other substances, to which deaths are linked? ("The FDA recalled L-tryptophan [a naturally occurring substance in many foods] in November 1989 following two deaths linked to the substance...the deaths were due to contaminated materials present in a particular batch of L-tryptophan...the FDA still bans L-tryptophan four years after the recall.")

The answer could be found in a video showing the hearing of the FDA’s Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee: the panel was stacked with psychiatrist David Dunner and colleagues (psychiatrists are bound to profit through drugs like Prozac); no documented evidence of adverse effects of Prozac was allowed to be presented at the hearing. Further:

"At least five out of 10 of the members on the FDA’s P.D.A. Committee...had conflicts of interest based on business dealings or other ongoing relations with manufacturers of antidepressant drugs."

"Research has brought to light that Lilly (Eli Lilly and Co.) has showered some $1.4 million on (David) Dunner since 1982."

What has come to light about the Eli Lilly and Co. drug, Prozac, since the FDA released it late 1987?

"...a powerful, mind-altering chemical has been liberally dispensed for nearly six years, triggering the highest number of adverse reaction for any prescription drug."

"Based on documents obtained by FREEDOM under the Freedom of Information Act, as of September 16, 1993: 28,623 reports of adverse reactions to Prozac had been received by the FDA. These included such effects as delirium, hallucinations, convulsions, violent hostility, aggression, psychosis, 1,885 suicide attempts and 1,734 deaths - 1,089 by suicide."

"FDA Commissioner David Kessler noted: ‘Although the FDA receives many adverse event reports, these probably represent only a fraction of the serious adverse events encountered by providers... Only about one percent of serious events are reported to the FDA, according to one study.’ By his own math (David Kessler’s), there could be 2,860,000 adverse reactions to Prozac in just 5 1/2 years, and 170,000 deaths."

A further list of side effects reported by Prozac users taken from various medical publications include: "heart attack, impotence, hair loss, cataracts, hepatitis...convulsions, coma, migraine...deafness...ulcers...inability to control bowel movements...eye bleeding, spitting...and vomiting blood"; "...seizure shortly after initiation of [Prozac] therapy." An article in ‘Science’ of July 1992 stated, "As if cancer patients don’t already have enough to worry about, a new animal study conducted by a team of Canadian researchers has raised a disturbing possibility. The study...shows that two widely used antidepressants, Elavil...and Prozac, act as ‘tumour promoters’ in rats and mice. That means that the drugs...accelerate the growth of existing tumours in those animals."

One report of many:

"On the morning of November 6, 1991, 61-year-old Barbara Mortenson greeted San Francisco police officers at her home in a blood-soaked night-gown. Dried blood covered her face. Pieces of raw flesh lay behind her on the carpet.

She had just cannibalized her 87-year-old mother with at least 20 bites on her face and arms. At several places, her mother’s arm had been chewed to the bone." She had "...been taking Prozac for the last two weeks." quot;

And the stories go on, and on, and on. In view of all this sickening evidence, which is public record and has been known to Echo Germanica for years, we ask, why does the CBC compare Prozac to a panacea? Why is Prozac cheerfully called by the CBC "a 90’s urban legend", when the evidence presents it as a 90’s horror story? Why would the CBC say about Prozac: "Actually, no one knows if it does anything at all to people..."? Why did the CBC promote reports by drug users about "positive" effects of Prozac? Was the report in fact a promotion of Prozac, which is manufactured by Eli Lilly and Co., whose shares had been on a down spin? Is the CBC at all concerned about the welfare of the Canadian people?

These are the lingering questions. Do the same questions apply to the rest of the Canadian main media with their wishy-washy reports about the most dangerous drug known in recent medical history? The question that should have been addressed in all those reports is: "Why are we still talking about Prozac? Shouldn’t it have been banned long ago from any market, never mind if Canadian or American?"

Should we end off in paraphrasing Clint Eastwood: "You want to play Russian Roulette? Go ahead, take some Prozac!"? We better not!

Echo Germanica hopes that the word "Prozac" will soon be a thing of the past. As a matter of fact, the case of Prozac might and should be used to wipe all other psychiatric drugs off the market. All these drugs could be replaced by proper nutrition. This has been proven again and again.

And especially our seniors would not fall victim to the untold misery as they are kept under the influence of such drugs. Off course, for their own good!

Rolf Rentmeister