Depressed over Prozac
Antidepressants dangerous and should be banned, crusader says
Ann Tracy knows hundreds of grisly stories: the professor on Prozac who bit her mother to death; the Stanford graduate on Paxil who stabbed herself in the kitchen while her parents slept; the mother who bludgeoned her son and then drank a can of Drano; the 12-year-old girl who strangled herself with a bungee cord she attached to a plant hanger on the wall.
Sit with Tracy for an hour and pretty soon your head is swimming in details: the shooting at Columbine, a study of violent mice, the conversation she had with Rusty Yates, whose wife drowned their five children in a bathtub. Andrea Yates was on maximum doses of Effexor and Remeron, she reminds you. The world according to Ann Tracy is a place full of people who were put on antidepressants and then went on to do horrible things.
Tracy is executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, which she operates out of her home office in West Jordan, a home she has mortgaged twice to pay for her 15-year crusade against antidepressants and the pharmaceutical companies who make them.
She is heartened by recent scrutiny of the drugs. Last year, the British version of the FDA banned all antidepressants other than Prozac for use in children under 18. In March, the Food and Drug Administration issued a Public Health Advisory about antidepressants — urging doctors and families to monitor adult and child patients on the drugs — and then appointed a panel of experts to reanalyze the incidence of suicide attempts during clinical trials of teens. In June, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer sued the makers of Paxil for consumer fraud, and 30 Utahns joined a nationwide class-action suit charging that GlaxoSmithKline "concealed, suppressed and downplayed" severe withdrawal reactions in people trying to go off the antidepressant.
But Tracy won't be happy until the drugs are banned altogether. They cause people to become violently suicidal and homicidal, she argues. They cause cancer, she says, and heart disease and diabetes and divorce.
Some people call her a visionary. Others roll their eyes and call her misinformed — and worry that she is hurting the very people she wants to help.