Prescription drug side-effects: How they’re vastly under-reported and one man’s tragic, cautionary tale

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Oakville, Ont. David Carmichael wants his nightmare to be a warning to Canadians: Know your drugs.

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His name may not be familiar to many, but Carmichael made headlines in 2004 when he was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 11-year-old son, Ian.

He believed that his healthy son, who had a mild form of epilepsy, was brain damaged, dangerous and needed to die. And so he crushed sleeping pills, seduced her, and then strangled her over a father-son weekend in London, Ont.

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“After Ian died, I took him to the center of the bed. I kissed his lips. I told him I loved him, [that] ‘I’m really going to miss you but you’re in a better place now.’ And then I turned on the TV and watched it for six hours before calling the police.

Carmichael was diagnosed with depression at the time of the murder. At his trial he was found not to be criminally responsible and served four years in a psychiatric facility in Eastern Ontario.

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Oakville, Ont. The man believes his psychosis was triggered by the antidepressant Paxil. His wife, Beth, says, “He was a loving father. He was a good man. We did everything with the kids. And then medicine came into the picture and it was all taken away. “

one in Statement To W5, producer of Paxil, Glaxo-Smith-Kline: “The tragic circumstances of this case serve as an important reminder that depression and other mental illnesses are serious disorders. Scientific evidence does not establish that Paxil is a homicide, causes psychotic or violent behavior.”

But Paxil’s own product information warns about the potential for “serious agitation, self-harm, or harm to others.” And health canada Says that 258 suspected serious adverse reactions have been reported about Paxil since Ian’s death in 2004, including 50 suicides, 211 cases of suicidal thoughts or attempts, and 16 cases of homicide thoughts, hostility, or violence. Health Canada cautions that this reporting does not necessarily mean that the drug Paxil actually caused these reactions.

The problem with all prescription pills, not just Paxil, is that serious adverse reactions are very rarely reported, which means doctors, pharmacists and patients may not be alert for side-effects. It is estimated that less than 5 percent of adverse reactions are ever reported to Health Canada.

Another concern is that Canadians are often not reading the lengthy fine print of the prescriptions they take, which contain important information, including warnings and adverse reactions.

Dr. Joel Lexchin, associate professor at the University of Toronto with expertise in drug regulation, said, “People are trusting both Health Canada and their doctors. I don’t think [doctors] are not aware of the degree of risk with specific drugs nor the people who are taking them.”

In fact, LexChain said the federal health agency doesn’t put the resources into surveillance security that it should. “Over the past 15 years, Health Canada has consistently invested three to four times more people and more money approving new drugs to monitor the safety of drugs already on the market,” Lexchin said.

The under-reporting of serious adverse reactions may change gradually.

Since 2019, acute care hospitals in Canada have been mandated – by law – to report each instance to Health Canada. In the first 18 months of mandatory reporting, Health Canada says it received 9,100 adverse drug reaction reports from hospitals, a 300 percent increase from the previous 18 months. However, Health Canada’s own website acknowledges that “there is underreporting with both voluntary and mandatory monitoring systems.

David Carmichael on his cross-Canada-speaking tour by sharing his sad story, visiting towns and cities across the country and urging Canadians to report adverse reactions and do their research on potential reactions before they are shot want. “It’s always difficult to bring it up, but it’s part of my purpose. I guess I have to. It’s part of my healing to try to prevent tragedies like our family’s. That’s what’s driving me forward.” , “They said.

Here’s How You Can Report a Serious Adverse Reaction health canada . And if you want to check your medicine for a list of reported side effects go here Rxisk.org. Information on David’s cross-Canada tour can be found here his website.

Watch W5’s ‘The Problem With Pills’ Saturday at 7pm on Granthshala

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