.. vousness and insomnia, and their sex lives may suffer some: a U.S. study, published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that among 160 patients on Prozac, 54 reported that sexual desires or responses diminished after they began taking the drug (1). Sidney Wolfe, director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group, a Washington based consumer advocacy organization, compares Prozac to Valium, the popular tranquilizer that was on the market for more than 10 years before doctors discovered its highly addictive properties during the mid-1970s. ?Prozac has become the Valium of the 1990s,¦ declares Wolfe (Nichols, 4) Finally, one of the weaker arguments against Prozac is that it is very expensive, with a cost of about fifty dollars for a month-s supply.
It costs more than older drugs now available as generics, like amitriptyline (Aprile, 3). The Pros of Prozac In defense of Prozac, Eli Lilly officials say that it is one of the most thoroughly tested medications in history: more than 32,000 people took part in Prozac-s clinical trials, and scientist have conducted at least 3,000 separate studies. ?Nothing alarming has shown up,¦ says Cameron Battley, corporate affairs manager for Lilly. He also insist that, despite reports of the drug being used to treat people who do not really need an antidepressant, ?there is absolutely no indication of any inappropriate use of Prozac¦ (Nichols, 2). When Eli Lilly and Co. won Federal Food and Drug Administration(FDA) approval for Prozac in December of 1987, it was specifically for the treatment of depression.
But there-s been plenty of publicity about the drug-s potential for helping people with a host of other maladies, ranging from obesity and bulimia, to panic attacks, alcoholism, PMS, smoking addictions and obsessive-compulsive disorders (Aprile, 1). Although Jefferson County Coroner Richard Greathouse was quoted earlier to suspect Prozac in Joseph Wesbecker-s violent rage, he says, ?I want to go on record saying I am not indicting this drug.¦ He says he only raised questions; he never drew conclusions. ?I personally am not afraid of the drug,¦ he said. In fact, Greathouse prescribes it in his own private pediatrics practice. He also goes on to say that his investigation–which included a study of ?a complete FDA file on Prozac about yea-deep¦–convinced him that there was no proven link between the use of the drug and violent behavior.
?The whole problem is, would they have done it anyway? Would they have taken a violent, destructive path regardless? That-s the $64,000 question¦ (Aprile, 2). Drugs to fight depression have existed for more than thirty years. The first type was Tricyclic antidepressants, like Elavil. Those were then followed by MAO inhibitors, like Parnate or Nardil. Both of these types of drugs relieve depression by acting on substances in the brain that regulate emotional highs and lows.
Prozac is considered a breakthrough because of the ?selective¦ way it works. Unlike tricyclics, Prozac rarely causes the adverse effects typical of Tricyclic antidepressants–dry mouth, confusion, constipation, dizziness, blurred vision, heart problems, and weight gain. Also, it is easy to take a 20-milligram pill, once a day, which is a standard beginning regimen, and tends to lift depression relatively quickly and appears difficult to overdose (3). According to Edward West, director of corporate communications for Lilly, the company knows of fewer than ten physical assaults and two murder-suicides committed by anyone on the medication. These do however, include Wesbecker-s rampage.
West told a Courier-Journal reporter that the firm sees ?no trend that suggests a casual relationship between Prozac and assaultive type of behavior.¦ The FDA agrees. Eva Kemper, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said the number of Prozac-related homicides and violent incidents is ?not-high¦ for an antidepressant as popular as it is (4). In the 1992 British Journal of Psychiatry, authors, A.C. Power and P.J. Cowen analyzed a broad number of studies involving Prozac and suicide. They concluded that controlled trials do not show Prozac leads to a worsening of suicidal ideas.
Eli Lilly-s spokeswoman, Kelly Weston, says that the drug-s suicidality was repeatedly tested in clinical trials and results actually showed that patients on Prozac experience suicidality less frequently than patients on a placebo or another antidepressant. The same thing has been shown in terms of violent behaviors. Antidepressants like Prozac seem to have a protective effect. The tendency toward violence will actually decrease. Dr. James Brookes, a Toronto general practitioner, says that there is generous praise from doctors and patients for an antidepressant that has made it easier to treat a debilitating illness.
The side-effects of older antidepressants–including a parched mouth, difficulty in urinating and feeling of psychological detachment– made them hard to take. ?There were serious problems involved in getting patients to tolerate those drugs in therapeutic doses,¦ says Brooks, ?but, with Prozac, you don-t have this. I-m really pleased with Prozac.¦ ( Nichols, 2) Many patients are equally enthusiastic. William Pringle, Vancouver special events organizer, was flattened by a major depression. His doctor put him on Prozac. ?I fell into a dark pit,¦ says Pringle.
?Prozac pulled me out and got me relaunched on my life.¦ Maria Theresa Spagnuolo of Toronto began taking it in 1989, after three automobile accidents left her with chronic pain throughout her body. And she also suffered serious depression. Spagnuolo found that she ?was crying about everything, spilled milk was a catastrophe. But Prozac gave me energy and changed my outlook so that I can cope with life. I don-t think I could function without it¦ (2).
For one Hawaiian business woman, who had a steady diet of antidepressants and psychotherapy off and on for 20 years before Prozac, but never lost her sense of despair, the past three years with Prozac have been miraculous. ?I felt fabulous not as in `up`, but as in `my god, I started to be normal,`¦ she said. ? Now I get sad when there-s reason to be sad, but I don-t feel hopeless¦ (Creamer, 1). In conclusion, the positives of Prozac definitely outweigh the negatives. All medications will have some side-effects, that is a given. Everything from Aspirin to Advil to prescription Penicillin have some kind of side effects, but everyone still takes these medications. Why, because they work.
No-one can argue that Prozac is working for many people, considering that it is the most prescribed drug in the world. But if it is not right for you, then you need to find what is good for you, not everyone can take every kind of medicine. Some people have allergies, that`s going to happen. The bottom line is, it is difficult to argue with clear results. Bibliography Aprile, Diane.
Prozac. Courier-Journal Feb. 18, 1990 Bihm, Barbara; Wilson, Billie Ann. Understanding Fluoxetine (Prozac). Medsurg Nursing Feb. 1, 1996 Creamer, Beverly.
Prozac: Its Effects Still Subject to Debate. Honolulu Advertiser May 30, 1993 Mauro, James; Breggin, Peter. And Prozac for All.. Psychology Today July 1,1994 Nichols, Mark. Questioning Prozac. Maclean`s May 23, 1994: 36-41 Fluoxetine (Prozac) fluoxetine (Prozac) The Pros and Cons of Prozac Ken Berardis.