Terence Young, one of the panelists at “You and Your Meds: Are They Safe?“, during his 10 minute presentation spoke about prescription drug warnings and how the FDA (USA) and Health Canada share different information.
He showed us a slide of an example of the Paxil information leaflet that Americans who take the drug receive from their pharmacist a leaflet that up front tells users that Paxil can cause suicidal thoughts and ideation. This does not happen in Canada (in all honesty I fell confident that even my American followers will say that they had no idea their medications could cause this). The example of a Canadian Paxil leaflet included the usual list of side effects we are all used to seeing, the whole constipation, fatigue, dizziness, insomnia etc. That’s what my Prozac and Cipralex leaflet from the pharmacy said and that is what my child psychiatrist told me.
It is obviously a problem if Health Canada is not requiring information about suicidality be known to the users of any SSRI’s and other psychiatric medications! BUT, unfortunately we can not blame just the drug companies because they do in fact have this information on their websites.
On the USA GSK website it is easier to find the information about increased risk of suicidality while on Paxil. I googled “USA Paxil leaflet” and the first link took me to a PDF from GSK where the first thing I saw was:
On top of that it is very easy to get to this information!
I went on to the Canadian GSK website and was less impressed. I can find the suicidality information but it takes much more clicking and scrolling. You can the information here under “Warnings and Precautions” and here under “June 2, 2004 – Important safety information regarding SSRIs and other newer anti-depressants including Paroxetine”.
I prefer the more “in your face” approach by GSK USA but at least the information is there.
Young talked about how these “black box warnings” are there so if a user of an SSRI says, “HEY! Your drug made me attempt suicide!” GSK, Eli Lilly, Pfizer etc can point to their companies leaflet which shows the warning that suicidality can occur. They are legally covering their asses. These warnings are there for the same reason Niagara Falls has these signs on the fence near the falls.
If those signs are not there and someone climbs over the fence then the city is in major shit for not making sure they did everything in their power to prevent an injury or death. With these signs up, if someone goes over then it is their fault and not the city’s. If we’re experience suicidality while on Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft etc. that drug company is essentially removed of any legal obligation because we were warned.
I was not warned. Were any of you warned?
My psychiatrist never informed me or my parents of the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and actions when according to the above June 2004 link on the GSK website and a letter to healthcare professionals I found on the Eli Lilly website this potential risk was acknowledged for 1 year before I was put on an SSRI at 16 (an age not recommended to SSRI use, which the drug companies also warn against).
So, the drug companies, aside from making the drugs that cause this horrible side effect, have done their part to wash their hands of any wrong doing.
Did my psychiatrist miss the memo? He must have!
As I progressively got worse on Prozac (and eventually Prozac and Zyprexa combo) my psychiatrist continued to increase my dose. Que suicide attempt and other self harming before I had not experienced before (ie: overdosing).
We trust our doctors. It is very discouraging to know that doctors are either withholding this information, do not know or do not believe that SSRI’s can cause suicidality.
I encourage everyone, regardless of medication, to do their own research. Know the good and the bad about your medication and listen to what your body tells you. The internet has given us access to information we didn’t have even 15-20 years ago and we need to take advantage of it! We need to hold our doctors accountable and do what feels right for us. We are our best advocates!
Posted on January 19, 2013, in Madness, Mental Health, Stigma/Discrimination, The Facts and tagged adverse reactions, big pharma, doctors, Eli Lilly, GSK, information, Paxil, Prozac, psychiatric medication, psychiatrist, side effects, SSRI, suicide, Terence Young, You and Your Meds. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.