psychiatrist has told an inquest the antidepressant Prozac probably
contributed to a woman's suicide.
Wendy Hay was on Prozac when she
Dr David Healey, director of the North Wales Department of
Psychological Medicine in Bangor, was giving evidence at the inquest
into the death of Wendy Hay, 52.
Mrs Hay was found hanged at her home in Arthington, near Leeds,
in September last year.
Her husband, leading toxicology professor Alastair Hay, believes
Prozac contributed to his wife's death.
Dr Healy told
the inquest he had looked at clinical studies on Prozac and the
records from Mrs Hay's case.
I just wanted something that would help her and I
thought that Prozac would do that
He said: "On the balance of probabilities the drug contributed to
her suicide and she possibly wouldn't have committed suicide if she
wasn't on this drug.
"She wasn't taking her own life with the usual intent."
He said studies involving healthy people had shown some people
could develop suicidal tendencies after taking Prozac.
"This drug can make healthy people who aren't remotely thinking
of suicide suicidal."
Mrs Hay's husband had previously wiped away tears as he told the
Leeds inquest how he discovered his wife's body.
Professor Hay, an expert in chemical and biological warfare and
professor of environmental toxicology at Leeds University told the
inquest he believed she died because she was taking Prozac.
He said his
wife had suffered a recurrence of her severe depression two months
before she died and was later put on a standard dose of 20
milligrammes of Prozac a day.
After she died, he became aware of reports linking the
antidepressant with suicidal feelings in some patients.
Professor Hay said that although he accepts Prozac helps a large
number of people, he believes the standard dose of 20 milligrammes a
day can be catastrophic to certain high-risk patients.
He has called for those at risk to be identified and perhaps
given a different dose.
Professor Hay said his wife first began suffering from depression
in 1999. He looked after her after he was released from hospital,
teaching himself Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to try and help her.
He told the
BBC: "Depression is a terrible, terrible condition.
Professor Hay looked at research into Prozac
after his wife died
"I just wanted something that would help her and I thought that
Prozac would do that.
"And it was just devastating to find afterwards that it might
have been what killed her."
He said: "There will be others going through the same and it is
just horrendous and it is wrong."
But he added: "It's not that Prozac is a bad drug. I have friends
that have benefited enormously from it.
"But there are some people that respond badly to it."
Susan Pezzack, a legal director for the pharmaceutical company
Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, said: "We take reports of this type
But she added: "We are comfortable that there's no causal
connection between Prozac and suicide."
Last month, government experts launched an inquiry into Selective
Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, including Prozac, after
concerns were raised, including a link to suicides.