THE OVERLOOKED FACTOR: PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS
As lawmakers on the federal and state level scramble to use the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings as a justification for the adoption of sweeping new gun control measures, one group, AbleChild, is asking a critical, and overlooked, question: Were psychiatric drugs a causative factor for the Sandy Hook shooter and for dozens of other school shootings?
In September 2003 FDA medical reviewer Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder discovered evidence, now generally accepted, that antidepressant drugs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)), including Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor, among many others, could increase the risk of suicidal and violent thoughts in children. That story is explained in detail in my book The Rise of Tyranny. In June 2003, FDA assigned Dr. Mosholder the task of evaluating claims of an association between antidepressants and suicidal behavior in children. Dr. Mosholder found evidence of increased risk of suicidal thoughts principally upon a review of twenty-two pediatric trials, involving 4,250 children. He found “74 of the 2298 children taking antidepressants had a ‘suicide related event’ compared with 34 of the 1952 children taking placebos.” Over one hundred events occurred in the trials that were labeled by the drug company sponsor as “possibly suicide-related,” ranging from hanging and overdose to cutting and stabbing. Forty-seven patients were hospitalized; none completed a suicide attempt.
Mosholder additionally found that only 3 in 15 pediatric depression trials included sufficient evidence of efficacy, raising the question of whether any of these drugs were effective in children. He concluded, overall, that children in the studies who took antidepressants were on average twice as likely to have suicidal thoughts as those on placebo. Mosholder’s findings were leaked to the media. FDA Internal Affairs then began a criminal investigation of Mosholder. FDA punished Mosholder for his findings by ostracizing him and suppressing his work. Mosholder had been among FDA scientists who favored approval of the drugs, having changed his mind on their efficacy only after post-market surveillance and study revealed their dangers.
Since that time, there have been 22 international drug regulatory agency warnings concerning psychiatric drugs begetting mania, hostility, aggression, violence, and homicidal ideation. Ten scientific studies support those findings. As the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and AbleChild report, between 2004 and 2011, there were 12,755 reports to the FDA’s MedWatch system on psychiatric drugs causing violent side effects, including: 1,231 cases of homicidal ideation/homicide; 2,795 cases of mania; and 7,250 cases of aggression. FDA states generally that only 1 to 10% of side effects experienced are ever reported to FDA through the MedWatch system.
My firm on behalf of AbleChild has sued the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Connecticut for refusing to release the medical records, autopsy records, and prescription drug histories of Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter. Assessment of that information by experts for AbleChild is critical in determining whether Lanza had been using psychiatric drugs noted for their risk of inducing mania, hostility, aggression, violence, and homicidal ideation. Could it be that this incident and many other acts of seemingly inexplicable genocide and suicide are not the product of mental disease alone but, rather, of drugs that are a causative factor or tipping point in the ultimate acts of violence?
Gathering that information from all sources is critical, yet often medical examiners stand in the way of releasing it to parties that have a legitimate interest in scientifically assessing the matter. Unless scientists and legislators have access to this critical information, public resources will no doubt continue to be spent on broad, prophylactic measures that violate Second Amendment rights when the real solution may lie not in disarmament of America but in removing these drugs from psychiatric treatment, if not entirely removing them, then at least doing so in instances where evidence of aggression is manifest. Recent events, involving mass stabbings, reveal just how beside the mark the effort to remove guns may well be. If indeed psychiatric drugs are a causative factor, then if removal of them from people prone to aggression would (to quote President Obama from the gun control context) “save even one life” then certainly every effort should be undertaken to do that.
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There should be legislative hearings held on this subject by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and by corresponding state legislative bodies. Individual members, particularly those whose jurisdictions include areas victimized by mass murders, should demand that the coroners release the medical information and respond directly to members about whether psychiatric drugs may have played a role in these horrific events. At a minimum, the parents of victims of this violence have a right to know, organizations like AbleChild interested in protecting caregivers from the risk of this violence have a right to know, and the American people have a right to know before further legislation is adopted that presumes disarmament of the entire population necessary when a far more targeted approach, aimed at removing a causative factor, could preserve Second Amendment rights and also help safeguard the public.
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