In Landmark Case, Judge Rules Prozac Was To Blame for Murder
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A Canadian judge ruled that Prozac was the cause that led a teenage high
school student-- with no prior history of violence--to inexplicably murder
his friend by stabbing him with a single wound to the chest.
Judge Robert Heinrichs sentenced the boy a three-year sentence, less time
already served--which means he will serve 10 months remaining in jail.
Additionally he is required to be under community supervision for four
The judge based his determination largely on the compelling expert testimony
by US psychiatrist, Peter Breggin, MD who submitted scientific evidence
showing the risk of drug-induced violence posed by antidepressants such as
According to court documents, "The boy had been taking Prozac for three
months, during which time his behavior deteriorated. He became impulsive and
unpredictable, and suicidal. He also began to talk at times as if
fantasizing about violence. He seemed to become a different person to his
The judge was also persuaded by the fact that when Prozac was withdrawn from
the boy, his behavior returned to normal.
" His basic normalcy now further confirms he no longer poses a risk of
violence to anyone and that his mental deterioration and resulting violence
would not have taken place without exposure to Prozac."
Dr. Breggin testified that his primary care physician and his parents
alerted the prescribing psychiatric clinic to the boy's deteriorating
condition, but the clinic continued the Prozac and then doubled it.
Seventeen days after the increase in dosage, the teen committed the
violence." Dr. Breggin further testified that "the teen's use of Prozac
likely meant he wasn't in full control of his actions."
The court heard how the boy changed from a loving, happy-go-lucky kid to a
dark, depressed drug abuser. In sentencing the boy Judge Heinrichs noted
that the boy "began to act out violently and even tried to harm himself on
several occasions....it's clear the boy's parents did the right thing in
taking their concerns to his various doctors, but they were largely
At sentencing, last Friday, Judge Heinrichs said: "(Prozac) clearly affected
his behaviour in an alarming way. He was simply not the same person."
This is the first criminal case in North America where a judge has
specifically found that an antidepressant was the cause of a murder.
Dr. Breggin noted that: "This is a landmark legal confirmation of the
scientific fact that the newer antidepressants like Prozac, including the
SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, can cause violence and even murder."
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Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav