Mad In America : Psychiatric Drugs and Murder

The Big Chill: Psychiatric Medications Now Are on Trial For Murder

Posted on May 16, 2012 by Michael Cornwall, Ph.D.

The Canadian judge in the first North American criminal trial to find Prozac the sole cause of a murder ruled- “There is clear medical evidence that the Prozac affected his (defendant’s) behavior and judgment, thereby reducing his moral culpability.” Will those chilling words cause a small tremor in the writing hand of every prescriber of Prozac and other psychiatric medications from now on?

Such a chill in prescribing may happen when the impact of the Prozac murder verdict is combined with the recent Utah Supreme Court ruling (available in the Mad in America- “In The News” column.) That ruling, following another murder trial of a man on several psychiatric drugs, states that physicians can be held responsible for the actions of their patients. In the upcoming trial of the prescribers, the Supreme Court said they were not- “immunized from liability when their negligent prescriptions cause physician injury to non-patients.”

In the past few years, we have seen how the giant drug companies have been found guilty of wrong doing in their fraudulent marketing practices of psychiatric drugs. Billions of dollars of fines have been ordered by the courts. I believe that the companies cynically and criminally decided to incur these fines as a cost of doing business. It was part of their business plan.

For the individual prescibers of psychiatric medications that I worked alongside for 30 years, I never have sensed any reluctance to prescribe based on the concern that they may be called to testify in a murder trial. A murder trial where the drug they gave was seen by the judge as the cause of the murder.
That Prozac verdict which is not going to be appealed by the District Attorney changes everything.

The upcoming Utah Supreme Court trial where the court has already ruled that prescribers of psychiatric medications can be held responsible for the actions of their patients, adds to the huge shift in the landscape for anyone who prescribes.

The verdict in the Prozac case was based on the expert witness testimony of my friend Dr. Peter Breggin. He has been the most credible voice in the wilderness warning against the dangers of psychiatric drugs for decades. I know Peter grieves the loss of life through suicide and homicide caused by these drugs. Maybe now people will heed his warnings. A wise judge in Canada recently did, and prescribing psychiatric drugs will never feel the same to those with the pen and pad.