Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Asthma drug Singulair linked to suicidality

Asthma drug Singulair linked to suicidality

by Martha Rosenberg
May 6, 2013

World sales of Merck's blockbuster asthma drug, Singulair, were about $5 billion a year until last year when its patent expired in the United States. But the drug also has a darkening cloud over it. The Australian medicine watchdog has received 58 reports of adverse psychiatric events in children and teenagers taking Singulair since 2000 and reports have also surfaced in the US.

Singulair, a leukotriene receptor antagonist or LTRA, is one of several "add-on" asthma drugs that were debuted in the last decade. Patients are supposed to add the new, "asthma controller" drugs to their regular rescue inhalers and inhaled corticosteroids not replace them. Ka-ching.

In the US, Singulair was heavily marketed for minor childhood allergies, in addition to asthma, and sold in a cherry-flavored chewable formulation. Merck had marketing partnerships with Scholastic, a leading educational publishing group, and the American Academy of Pediatrics, reported the US' Fox News.

Sales pieces from the Scholastic/ Merck partnership cajoled parents, "When your child breathes in an asthma trigger, such as pollen from trees or weeds, the body releases leukotrienes (loo-ko-TRY-eens)" which Singulair blocks. But they also told parents their children could experience, "hallucinations (seeing things that are not there), irritability, restlessness, sleepwalking, suicidal thoughts and actions (including suicide), trembling, and trouble sleeping," on the drug. At least they wouldn't be sniffling.

In 2009, after 15-year-old Cody Miller of Queensbury, NY was given Singulair for hay fever and took his own life 17 days later, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave Singulair a stronger warning for "neuropsychiatric" side effects. The next year, Fox TV, a leading US television network, reported that children on Singulair are being diagnosed with ADHD, Tourette Syndrome and serious behavioral and neurological conditions caused by the drugs. Most are "cured" when they go off the drug but some are not and are then given other damaging pediatric behavioral drugs.

Over 100 parents on the popular US drug-rating web site, corroborate the evidence, reporting that Singulair caused hyperactivity, tantrums, depression, crying, school trouble, facial tics, strange eye movements and self-harm in their children, some as young as one year old. Many of the children were prescribed Singulair for sniffles and wheezing which were called early symptoms of asthma, commensurate with Pharma's "early treatment" business model.

"Last night was a complete meltdown over every single thing that could have possibly been a minor annoyance, such as not being able to squeeze enough toothpaste out of the tube, which culminated in a 30-minute screaming and crying bonanza," writes the mother of a 7-year-old who has been on Singulair for six months. "I was reading stories to her tonight, and she must have popped her jaw open at least 40 times over the course of two
books (mouth open wide like a yawn in fast-forward). I was keeping an eye on her, and a few times I asked her why she kept doing that and she said she didn't know, and she thought maybe her mouth was 'itchy.'"

"Do NOT recommend this drug to other parents," writes another mother. "4 year olds that suddenly talk about killing themselves are influenced by a DRUG!!"

Even adults are put on Singulair for minor reasons with major consequences. "I was perfectly healthy prior to taking this drug," reports a 53-year-old woman about Singulair on the askapatient web site. "Doc noticed I had a little wheeze and prescribed Singulair. I began to have the dreams, insomnia and depression after the first few days," which led to "suicidal thoughts," she says.

Like many of Big Pharma's blockbuster drugs, Singulair made billions by selling "diseases"--in this case childhood allergies and asthma. And like many blockbuster drugs, the true dangers have only emerged since the drug went off patent and the profit potential was gone.


Read more about underreported prescription drug dangers in Martha Rosenberg's acclaimed expose, Born with a Junk Food Deficiency, available in bookstores, libraries, and online.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: ‘Disruption’ Is For Losers

Disruption – anarchic, dynamic, table-tipping, mould-breaking, consensus-shattering disruption – has become part of every corporate bout of auto-hype to the faddish point where the term has lost any useful meaning it might once have had. More>>


Werewolf: Coney Island (And The Trumps), Baby

Like much of that part of the coast, and given the storm surges of Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island should be occupied only by clumps of grass and seabirds. Instead there are 60,000 people in multi-storey apartment buildings living among the faded remnants of a once-spectacular fantasyland.. More>>


Gordon Campbell:
On Corbyn, Trump And Outsider Politics

Jeremy Corbyn elevated to the leadership of Britain’s Labour Party! Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on the rise in the US… On both sides of the Atlantic, these are dark days for the political Establishment. More>>


Operation Chrysalis: A New Beginning For Scoop

On December 19th 2014 the Scoop Team set out on a project called "Operation Chrysalis". We decided to turn Scoop's 16 year old online news publishing business into a new kind of news business, one connected directly to its readers, owned by a not-for-profit and based on a new business model. More>>


Keith Rankin: The Economy - What's It For?

I re-watched the Q+A 'immigration debate' screenedon 23 August. In light of recent events, the discussion already seems very dated. The underlying assumptions were that the economy is a system in which production growth is pretty much the sole objective, and that migration policy must serve this end of output maximisation... More>>

Until Dawn: Pick Your Own Horrible Adventure

Suppermassive Games’ Until Dawn sees a group of dumb sexy teenagers take a trip to a spooky mansion atop a mountain. It is, obviously, a horror game. However, the game is so ridiculous it turns out to be more of a comedy. Until Dawn begins with ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news