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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Hours With Matthew - The Story of "Effexor Baby", Matthew Schultz.

Over the years I have been writing this blog I have come across some truly heart rending stories with regard to the loss of life. I've spoken at length with parents of those who have fallen foul to the greed of pharmaceutical companies, strived to highlight the truth that the mainstream media are too afraid to publish for fear of lawsuits hanging over their heads from manufacturers of antidepressants who wish to keep the truth within the confines of their vaults. Up to now, I've never really dived into the death of newborns, those unfortunate souls who died within months, weeks, days, and in the case of Matthew Schultz, hours.

Matthew was born on February 21, 2009. His parents, Amery and Christiane, spent just two hours with him before he passed away. He weighed just 7 pounds 3 ounces. He went into cardiac arrest shortly after he was born.

Matthew died from Effexor exposure, although at the time his parents didn't know this. Why would they? Effexor carried no warning. Neither Amery or Christiane were warned about the potential dangers of taking Effexor whilst pregnant, they were told many, many times that Effexor was safe.

Matthew's mother had been taking Effexor during her pregnancy, she was prescribed it by her doctor, who had diagnosed that she was suffering with "severe chronic depression", as a matter of fact, Christiane had been taking Effexor for 8 years prior to giving birth to Matthew.

"Christiane was never really truly depressed", recalls husband Amery, "Effexor never really changed her moods at all. However, once Christiane was on Effexor she found it almost impossible to get off." Amery added, ".. they turned her into an emotional zombie. Although she still had depressive symptoms, she never truly had happy moments."

During her 8 years on Effexor, Christiane had given birth to three other children, two of them were born with heart murmers whilst the third was born extremely under-weight at full term and also had a lung disorder. At no point did doctors associate Effexor being the causation of the three children being born with defects.

During her pregnancy with Matthew, Christiane asked the OBGYN, the physician who specializes in medical and surgical care to women with expertise in pregnancy, childbirth, if it was safe to take Effexor whilst pregnant. The reply, recalls Amery, was, "Women take this stuff all the time, we don't see any problem with it."

Christiane recounts on an early blog post of hers that both her and husband, Amery, had done a lot of research since their son had died. She writes:

Since Matthew died, we have done a lot of research. Turns out that my antidepressants have serious side effects. Not only to me, but my children through me. That would explain why out of 5 pregnancies, I have had something wrong with all of them. And why each subsequent pregnancies were more and more difficult.

Furthermore, both Christiane and Amery supplied their doctor with large amounts of evidence regarding Effexor and infant death they had obtained off the internet. Their doctor was astonished.

Too little, too late for Amery and Christiane.

The Canadian drug regulator, Health Canada, have, in the past, issued warnings to doctors regarding taking SSRi/SNRi medication whilst pregnant. This, however, is just not implemented, in fact, doctor's don't even have to read any warnings they get from Health Canada.

On June 28, 2004 some 5 years before Matthew was born, the FDA and Wyeth [Effexor's then manufacturer] issued a new MedWatch drug Alert to healthcare professionals: [1]

"Neonates exposed to Effexor, other SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), late in the third trimester of pregnancy have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding."

This information was sent out to the medical profession in America. Two years later, in 2006, Health Canada issued a warning to all pregnant women considering becoming pregnant that SSRI drugs similar to Effexor may pose life-threatening risks to their babies. Nursing mothers were also warned that SSRIs could be secreted in milk and could have an effect on nursing infants. [2]

So, why, if this information was out there, did Christiane continue taking Effexor?

It's simple really, the public are rarely told by the medical profession about such warnings because the doctor's, nurses, OBGYN's, psychiatrists, rarely read the warnings. Like the UK, there is no system in place to make the medical profession read the warnings. The regulator has a clear conscience because they can profess that they did everything to warn about the dangers.

We know that's bullshit, right?

If the CEO of Health Canada saw his daughter climbing into a rubber dinghy and he knew that rubber dinghy had two holes in it, do you honestly think he would send her a letter of warning?

Of course not, it's absurd.

With millions of dollars spent on the promotion of these drugs, is it too much to ask Health Canada, or any other regulator for that matter, that when a warning as severe as death occurs, they shout it from the rooftops rather than send a letter that may never be opened by the recipient?

It's common sense really...then again, if Health Canada are anything like the British drug regulator, the MHRA, common sense won't be in their dictionary.

Amery and Christiane have been at loggerheads with their coroner regarding Matthew's death. In February, 2011, Amery received the final coroner's report. It was delivered to him on the 21st February, Matthew's 2nd birthday and 2nd anniversary of his death.

Fantastic timing huh?

What is utterly perverse about the coroner's report is that Coroner Robert Saunders, Province of British Columbia, stated that there was no anatomical or toxicological cause of death. Yet under the heading, "Other Significant Conditions Contributing to Death", Exposure to venlafaxine in utero is listed? Furthermore, the coroner adds that this is "Natural" [See pic below]

Click to enlarge

In essence, Saunders is stating that it is natural for anyone to die after being exposed to Effexor in utero.

Amery, obviously, was incensed, who wouldn't be? This prompted him to write a blog entitled, "How far could your head be up your ass?" He opens with the paragraph;

This past week I recieved what is supposed to be the final report from the Coroner on Matthew’s brief life and death. As I allude to in the title of this posting, the presiding coroners have their heads firmly implanted in their collective asses. I have taken the liberty of uploading the three pages of the report here. The irony of this report being issued on Matthew’s second birthday was not lost on us.

One has to question the insensitivity of the coroner here. He can't claim to not know the date of Matthew's death as it is plastered all over the report, so why send it out to parents on what would have been such a sombre date for them?

The Coroners Service of British Columbia is responsible for the investigation of all unnatural, sudden and unexpected, unexplained or unattended deaths. It makes recommendations to improve public safety and prevent death in similar circumstances.[3]

I've said in previous articles I have wrote that coroner's deal with death on a daily basis, seeing a dead body is like eating a bowl of cornflakes, it's such a regular occurrence but for crying out loud, show some tact when sending out reports to grieving parents!

Amery and I have corresponded over the years. I feel for him and I also greatly admire him. Yet again, life has been snatched away from loving parents, a life that was not given a chance because a greedy pharmaceutical company and an inept medicines regulator failed in their duty to give Matthew Schultz a chance of life. It's a despicable act and one that should never be forgotten.



Further reading

Matthew's Facebook page

**The following video contains images that some viewers may find deeply upsetting. It is with the wishes of both parents that these pictures be shown to highlight the dangers of taking SSRi/SNRi medication whilst pregnant.