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Prozac. Paxil. Zoloft. Turn on your television and you are likely to see a commercial for one of the many selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) on the market. We hear a lot about them, but do we really understand how these drugs work and what risks are involved for anyone who uses them?
Let Them Eat Prozac explores the history of SSRIs—from their early development to their latest marketing campaigns—and the controversies that surround them. Initially, they seemed like wonder drugs for those with mild to moderate depression—patients take just one daily dose, and unlike the tranquilizers that were popular in the 1960s, they supposedly did not lead to addiction. When Prozac was released in the late 1980s, David Healy was among the psychiatrists who prescribed it. But he soon observed that some of these patients became agitated and even attempted suicide. Studies were soon published, citing numerous cases in which patients became anxious and reported increased suicidal thoughts while taking Prozac. Could the new wonder drug actually be making patients worse?
Healy draws on his own research and expertise to demonstrate the potential hazards associated with these drugs. He intersperses case histories with insider accounts of the research leading to the development and approval of SSRIs as a treatment for depression. Let Them Eat Prozac clearly demonstrates that the problems go much deeper than a disturbing side-effect of a particular drug. Current FDA regulations encourage drug companies to patent a specific compound and market it effectively to a large population on the basis of minimal effectiveness in a handful of trials.
The pharmaceutical industry would like us to believe that SSRIs can safely treat depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental problems. But as Let Them Eat Prozac reveals, this "cure" may be worse than the disease.
David Healy is a former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology and author of over 120 articles and 12 books, including The Antidepressant Era and The Creation of Psychopharmacology.
“A compelling story about mystery, deception, death, disappointment, vindication, and uncertainty.”
-The American Psychological Association
“Healy confirms his status as one longtime thorn in the side of big drug companies, recounting how he was initially enthusiastic about SSRIs but eventually grew concerned about their side effects.”
“Stirring firsthand account of the SSRI wars. . . . Healy is a distinguished research and practicing psychiatrist, university professor, frequent expert witness, former secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology, and author of three books in the field. Instead of shrinking from commercial involvement, he has consulted for, run clinical trials for, and at times even testified for most of the major drug firms. But when he pressed for answers to awkward questions about side effects, he personally felt Big Pharma’s power to bring about a closing of ranks against troublemakers. That experience among others has left him well prepared to puncture any illusions about the companies' benevolence or scruples.”
-New York Review of Books
“Let Them Eat Prozac is a double-pronged exploration, first of the SSRI drugs used to treat depression, and second of the drug industry.”
|Preface : under the thundercloud of a common experience|
|Introduction : before Prozac||1|
|2||Events in Kentucky||64|
|3||Down the barrel of a lawyer||87|
|5||A Pacific fault line||129|
|7||Experiment at the end of the millennium||174|
|8||The plots thicken||194|
|9||The tort wars||224|
|10||Let them eat Prozac||254|
|Epilogue : anecdotal deaths||274|
|About the author||351|