|Brennan McCartney - A victim of Lexapro|
You are young, you have relationship problems with your partner, you talk things through with your doctor, you are prescribed a drug, that drug is not recommended for people of your age group.
You kill yourself.
An all too familiar story has recently been aired on Canadian TV.
Brennan McCartney was just 18 years old when in November 2010, he was prescribed Lexapro [known as Cipralex in Canada]. 4 days later Brennan hanged himself.
Lexapro is the sister drug to Lundbeck's earlier antidepressant Celexa [also known as Cipramil]
Now, this is where pharmaceutical marketing comes into play.
Celexa's patent was running out, in other words, other companies could make generic versions of it, thus making heaps of money... money that Lundbeck wished to keep for themselves.
So, what do they do?
They play around with a molecule or two of Celexa then re-badge it as Lexapro. Voila! A new antidepressant hits the market.
The company hail it as a much better drug than their previous best-seller. Doctor's, convinced by pharmaceutical spin and ghostwritten articles start switching patients from one drug to another which is, in essence, the same drug.
Canadian Brennan McCartney was prescribed a sample pack of Lexapro, a pack that would have been left behind by a visiting Lundbeck rep who more than likely would have failed to mention the suicide link in Brennan's age group. The rep would not have cared who the doctor was prescribing it to, nor would he have intervened if the doctor was prescribing off-label to patients that the drug was not recommended for.
Brennan's doctor may or may not have told the 18 year old about the dangers of taking Lexapro, particularly during the first two weeks. Even if he did, Brennan really wouldn't have believed that a pill manufactured to help lift his apparent depression could actually make him worse.
SSRi's such as Lexapro make you do things that you wouldn't normally do. You lose your inhibitions, you lose your fear, two traits that are embedded in us for a reason. They tell us what is right and what is wrong, they are pre-cursors... warnings, insights into consequences.
Brennan was contemplating a split with his partner. He, like millions of others, was trying to deal with the heart-ache. His doctor, for reasons that I am unaware of, deemed Lexapro as a pill to help heal his heart, a heart, that remember, was broken...only metaphorically speaking.
Instead of healing the gut-wrenching feeling of a relationship split, Lexapro managed to do the complete opposite. It fixed nothing. The chemicals released into Brennan's system would have more than likely been the cause of his chemical imbalance - they would have changed because Lexapro gives you a re-uptake of serotonin - the substance, claim doctor's, psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies, that needs boosting when one becomes depressed.
This, as many of you know, is pseudo-science, it's claptrap, it's pharmaceutical spin designed only to sell more and more drugs to an unsuspecting public.
Man in white coat treats poorly patient - man in white coat is deemed as God.
There is no better retailer for a product.
So, what happens when a patient commits suicide when taking one of these types of drugs?
We've all seen the warnings that they 'may' cause suicide...yet when they actually do cause a person to take their own life we get no admittance of liability from the companies that make them. The victim...or rather the victim's original illness is blamed, in Brennan's case, heartache.
Brennan's parents have called for toxicology reports to be carried out on their dead son. Those wonderful folk at the Coroner's Office in Brampton, Ontario have denied their request citing, "the results would be inconclusive"
Genetic testing could determine if Brennan was in a susceptible population, there are certain folk who metabolize these drugs better than others. By not allowing Brennan's parents this one simple test the Coroner's Office of Brampton, Ontario are failing to protect the public, they are sweeping a young death under the carpet because any result from a toxicology report that raised a red-flag to this particular patient population would have to be tackled and Coroner's just don't want to get involved in something so irrelevant.
The Coroner's Office in Brampton should be utterly ashamed of themselves. Quite how they arrived at such a decision is baffling...to say the least
Brennan became agitated, so much so that he told his parents that he 'had to get out'. Brennan left the family home - he never returned again.
It's plainly obvious, to me at least, that Brennan's agitation was a result of ingesting Lexapro...as was his suicidal act.
Brennan McCartney was not depressed, he was saddened because that's how people with a heart get when they split with partners.
Lundbeck, the manufacturers of Lexapro, will no doubt use that in a defence - they will use the fact that Lexapro was not indicated for someone with sadness, particularly someone who fell into the age-group of Brennan. They don't mind doctor's prescribing it though!
So, another kid dies because he was prescribed a drug 'off-label', a doctor who was given carte blanche by medicine regulators who stubbornly refuse to ban SSRi use in children and adolescents. Not recommending use of a drug is not the same as banning it. It's a limp-wristed gesture to show the public that the regulator, in this instance Health Canada, are doing their job correctly.
The segment [below] was aired on 16x9. In it, Lundbeck are quoted as saying that 'there is no evidence that the drug increases the risk of suicide'
According to the FDA, the American drugs regulator, Lexapro was given a black box warning because it indicated that it can cause serious side effects, including disabling reactions, life-threatening conditions or fatal results.
So, suicide isn't a fatal result then?
And what of an inquest for Brennan McCartney?
Well, we've seen just how utterly useless Coroner's courts can be in the past. Two in Canada spring to mind:
Vanessa Young [Prepulsid] and Sara Carlin [Paxil]
In both cases recommendations were made. None of the recommendations made have ever been implemented.
It's ironic that the word 'recommendations' is used twice here. Not recommended for children and adolescents and recommended that A,B or C be carried out to protect future patients.
The word 'recommendations' means nothing, it's yet another smokescreen to make it look like something will eventually be done about a problem...when in actual fact there is no intention to do anything about a particular problem.
The segment about Brennan's suicide can be seen from 7.14 onwards.
Brennan's mom, Nancy, can be followed on Twitter - @NancyMcCartney2