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 askapatient.com, 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

 

David Swanson: Torture Is Mainstream Now

As Rebecca Gordon notes in her new book, Mainstreaming Torture, polls find greater support in the United States for torture now than when Bush was president. And it's not hard to see why that would be the case. More>>

Uri Avnery: In One Word: Poof!

Poor John Kerry. This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble. In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the “peace ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: The Poverty Incentive: Making The Poor Carry The Refugee Can

The poorer you are, the more likely you need to shoulder more. This axiomatic rule of social intercourse, engagement and daily living is simple and brutal enough: the poor shall hold, conserve, preserve. More>>

Nureddin Sabir: BBC Misreports John Kerry On Talks Failure

For once, US Secretary of State John Kerry was not mincing his words when he blamed Israel for the breakdown of talks with the Palestinians. But you would not have known this if you were following the story from the BBC News website. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Narendra Modi, And The Elections In India

On the upside, the gigantic election process that began yesterday in India is the largest exercise in democracy on the planet. Reportedly, a staggering five million people are employed, directly or indirectly, in the election process. The likely outcome is not quite so welcome... More>>

ALSO:

Ramzy Baroud: Kerry’s Looming Deadline And The Peace Process Industry

As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. More>>

Harvey Wasserman: Fighting Our Fossil-Nuke Extinction

The 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster has brought critical new evidence that petro-pollution is destroying our global ecosystem. The third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan confirms that radioactive reactor ... More>>

Shobha Shukla: Rise In Global Health Financing, But Funding Priorities Shift

A new research done by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), at the University of Washington, indicates that globally the total development assistance for health (DAH) hit an all-time high of $31.3 billion in 2013 (a year-over-year ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
TEDxAuckland
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news