Military death records obtained by Military Times show that at least 68 accidental drug deaths in 2009, up from 24 in 2001. In total, at least 430 troops have died from drug use — or, in a small number of cases, alcohol use — in the past decade.
The SSRI antidepressant makers are desperate to find new customers, so they recently have been focusing on capturing groups for which the drugs were usually considered off limits. The latest marketing coup managed to open up sales to roughly 614,000 American pilots. Under a new policy announced on April 5, 2010, pilots diagnosed with depression can seek permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to take one of four SSRIs, including Eli Lilly’s Prozac, Pfizer’s Zoloft, and Forest Laboratories’ Celexa and Lexapro.
Ken Kramer, a researcher with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida, says the numbers underestimate the extent of the problem, because medical examiners do not track deaths attributed to antipsychotic drugs or to antidepressants, both of which carry black-box or black-label warnings. The warnings on antidepressants, required by the Food and Drug Administration, state that the drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults up to age 24. (Antidepressants include Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Lexapro and Celexa.)
The murder-suicide of a Jackson County couple is at the center of a wrongful death, and product liability suit against New York pharmaceutical company. Forest Laboratories and Forest Pharmaceuticals are named as co-defendants in a lawsuit filed in Jackson Circuit Court on April 30 by Robin J. Hall.
A few years ago I was hired by the FAA to defend the agency against a suit brought by a pilot who wanted to fly while taking a prescription antidepressant. I helped the FAA formulate its defense of the agency’s ban on pilots using antidepressants and, as a result, the ban remained in effect. Pilots remained unable to fly while taking antidepressants, including the newer ones such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Effexor. How times have changed.