When 18-year-old Sara Carlin’s successful suicide was later attributed to her use of the controversial antidepressant Paxil, it caused an outspoken Conservative MP to wage war against Health Canada in a bid to force the organization improve the warnings to doctors against these prescription medications.
Carlin hung herself in her basement in 2007 after taking Paxil for depression. A coroner’s inquest into her death led them to believe that Paxil played a key role in the girl’s death. Now her family is demanding that Health Canada create an independent drug safety board to help improve the way that doctors are warned about drug side effects at a formal inquest. The inquest also suggested that Health Canada force drug companies to submit all clinical trials before they consider approving new medications. This will include clinical trials that show mixed results.
Carlin’s family claims that the girl became depressed after taking Paxil. But Glaxo, the makers of the drug, maintain that she was already depressed when she started Paxil and that the drug made her condition better. The company believes that family issues and school pressure was to blame for her problems.
For its part, Health Canada responded to the inquest demands online by stating that it already was addressing and implementing the suggestions made in the inquest. However, Conservative Parliament member Terence Young, who is an advocate for more vigilance with medication, says that Health Canada has completely ignored the chamber’s recommendations for more doctor warnings and it was “misleading” the public into thinking it is making medication safety a priority.
“They are being totally disingenuous,” Young says. “They had the audacity to say they’ve already solved this problem. That is blatantly untrue. It’s blatantly misleading.”
Young has stated that the document was an “absolute disgrace” and that it doesn’t help Canadians in getting accurate, timely information about the safety of the drugs they are taking. And it certainly doesn’t do anything to remove the unsafe drugs from market shelves. With the numbers of lawsuits being filed on behalf of ill and deceased patients growing every day, it is clear that Young has a point.