A 34 year old Las Vegas mother was given Zoloft to help her cope with the anxiety of raising her 3 kids, including her toddler daughter and infant son.
Early on the morning of June 12th, Luz Robledo Ibarra threw her 7 month old son, her 1½-year-old daughter and then herself through a second story window landing on the pavement below.
The baby suffered head injuries and broken bones, the girl had severe facial injuries, and the mother broke her pelvis and sustained other injuries.
She faces possible charges of attempted murder and felony charges of child abuse. If convicted she could spent anywhere from 2 to 40 years in a state prison.
She had complained of feeling depressed and having insomnia, anxiety, headaches and neck and back pain. A doctor prescribed Zoloft. (Which causes insomnia!)
She told police that she heard voices telling her to throw the children and herself out the window.
This is not an isolated case for Zoloft.
The drug has a record of causing horrible side effects yet its creator pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, Inc., has just rolled with the punches (lawsuits and settlements) and made an estimated $30 billion dollars in sales revenue from the drug since it was introduce into the UK market in 1990.
The FDA approved it in the US in 1999 and by 2005 thanks to clever marketing Zoloft was the best selling US antidepressant with nearly 30 million prescriptions being written and grossing $2.6 billion in that year alone.
A visit to Zoloft’s own website reveals what the FDA has forced the drug maker to say about their product.
“Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs”
“Antidepressant medicines may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults especially within the first few months of treatment…Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.”
They then advise you to:
- “Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms, or call 911 if an emergency, especially if they are new, worse, or worry you:
- attempts to commit suicide
- acting on dangerous impulses
- acting aggressive or violent
- thoughts about suicide or dying
- new or worse depression
- new or worse anxiety or panic attacks
- feeling agitated, restless, angry or irritable
- trouble sleeping
- an increase in activity or talking more than what is normal for you
- other unusual changes in behavior or mood
- Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome or call 911 if an emergency. ZOLOFT may be associated with these serious side effects:
- agitation, hallucinations, coma or other changes in mental status
- coordination problems or muscle twitching (overactive reflexes)
- racing heartbeat, high or low blood pressure
- sweating or fever
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- muscle rigidity”
Despite warnings like this, 2014 statistics show some 73,717 people reporting having had side effects when taking Zoloft.
Among them were 953 people (1.29%) who had hallucinations, 977 people (1.33%) reporting increased aggression and 1,134 people (1.54%) having attempted suicide.
Pfizer currently is fighting two class action lawsuits in the courts involving Zoloft.
One asserts that Pfizer hid the fact that their drug caused birth defects when taken by pregnant women and the second asserts that Pfizer had not published some clinical trials which demonstrated that the anti-depression benefits of Zoloft were not significantly different to those of a placebo sugar pill. In some cases, the placebo produced better results than Zoloft.
Zoloft suicides are frightening examples of the unpredictable nature of the drug; here are a few.
Timothy “Woody” Witczak – Age 37
Died of a Zoloft-induced suicide. He was not depressed, nor did he have any history of mental illness or depression. After 5 weeks on the drug, Woody was found hanging from the rafters in the garage. He was given the antidepressant from his general physician for “insomnia.” Pfizer settled a lawsuit brought by his widow in 2006 for an undisclosed amount.
Candace Downing – Age 12
Prescribed Zoloft for anxiety about taking tests in school and soon afterwards hung herself in her bedroom. Candace was an honor student, an athlete, and had bubbly personality that attracted many friends.
Mathew M. – Age 13
Family just moved to a new suburb of Kansas City. He was having a hard time adjusting to new school and city. He was given 3 weeks worth of Zoloft samples, but took his own life before finishing the first bottle. His parents wanted to go back to the doctor the following week, but the doctor couldn’t see them for 3 weeks due to caseload and speaking engagements for Pfizer. He was found hanging from his bedroom closet after taking the drug for 6 days.
Julie Woodward – Age 17
Julie told her parents she “felt sad” and her grades began to slip. She was going through a tough period, breaking up with a boyfriend, attending a new school and facing SATs. She started to attend an outpatient group therapy program where she was prescribed Zoloft. Her family immediately noticed that she couldn’t keep still. Typically very calm, Julie was pacing and constantly moving. For the first time ever, Julie shoved her mother to the floor after an argument. Her dad found her hanging in the garage after taking Zoloft less than a week.
Examples of Zoloft causing violence are equally unexpected and frightening.
Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and “other drugs for the conditions.”
Christopher Pittman, 15, blamed the antidepressant Zoloft for his violent behavior causing him to murder his grandparents Joe Pittman, 66, and Joy Pittman, 62. A doctor had prescribed Zoloft less than a month before the killings.
A Supreme Court Justice in an Australian courtroom ruled that Zoloft was the cause for David John Hawkins strangling his wife of nearly 50 years. “It can be seen that the medical evidence strongly supports a conclusion that but for the effect of the 250mg of Zoloft he had taken, it is wholly unlikely that the prisoner would have committed the crime to which he had pleaded guilty.”
Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed 12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves. Klebold’s medical records have never been made available to the public.
Ironically, there are now many website forums where victims of psychiatric drugs discuss their side affects and people swap their “med”stories and give suggestions on other drugs to try as replacements. The drug companies must be delighted to see this fad which promotes and seems to validate their products. These sites start from a reality that meds are the answers to life’s problems and re-enforce that idea.
Here is one mother’s forum post regarding her daughter’s use of Zoloft.
“My 14 year old daughter took Zoloft for 10 days and ended up with extreme hallucinations that put her in the mental ward for 3 days. She started on 25 mg for the first 7 days which made her extremely happy. It was then bumped up to 50 mg a day. She started hearing voices and then saw a demon looking person named Mr. S. that was telling her to kill herself and a lot of other people. Our general practitioner prescribed this for her. It took 3 or 4 days of being off of Zoloft for the hallucinations to go away.
She has since tried Wellbutrin – didn’t do anything but give her a bad stomach ache.
She tried Prozac which worked for a short spell (a month) but not really.
Now she is on Lexapro which over the past 2 weeks appears to make her very angry. She is not normally an angry child. The Nurse Practitioner in psychiatry who has been prescribing for her since the Zoloft incident wants her to stay on it.
My daughter is begging me to go back on Zoloft because she is so depressed. I suggested a lower dose of Zoloft to the Nurse Practitioner and she said that she would not prescribe it for her. My husband had asked our general practitioner at the same time and he said that he would prescribe it in a lower dose. My question is should I even consider letting her go back on Zoloft? It is really hard seeing her be so depressed. Any thoughts?
She is seeing a psychologist at least weekly too.”
Following several replies in which other folks describe their horrible hallucinations on Zoloft and telling this mother not to let her daughter near that drug again, the mom writes:
“Thank you so much for all of your replies. They are very helpful. She had a full psych evaluation yesterday. I won’t know the results until the end of the year. I’m hoping it can give us more information.
She wants to go back on Zoloft because before she started hallucinating she had the best weekend of her life – had a few girls over for a sleepover, went to the movies, went to the mall, went out rollerskating, and did some other things – more than she has done in months. It truly made her feel happy and excited about life. I get it though; the resounding answer is don’t let her go back on it.
Has anyone had the genetic test to see what antidepressant might work better and has that been helpful? I was debating if I should push her Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner in that direction?”
Sadly, this mom is so convinced it’s just a matter of finding the correct drug and all will be well and she totally trusts a psychiatric-pharmaceutical system that cares nothing about her daughter as long as profits are being made.
Luz Robledo Ibarra probably trusted her doctor, too, and now she’s destroyed her life and that of her family.