My father was born in 1955. He is medium height, loves his family, fishing and hunting. In 1980 he came to America with his wife and two children to pursue a better life.
In the 1980s he would say he drank too much. He stopped because he knew he had a problem.
In late 1993 the company he worked for closed so he decided to open his own machine shop. My father worked by himself at his shop. A friend would help deliver the parts at night.
In 2004 he injured his shoulder and had to have an operation for a torn rotator cuff. After the operation he became addicted to Vicodin. I saw he needed help with his business so I left my job to work for him full time. We always stayed busy. On the weekends, we would hunt and fish together. I never knew he was addicted to Vicodin. He would never act out of the norm and would never slur his speech. After the doctor stopped prescribing the Vicodin, he signed up to a pain management center where he got more Vicodin.
My father knew he was addicted and finally stopped. It was very hard for him since he was taking them for 7 years. In 2012 he finally stopped. He went to a psychiatrist because of his symptoms feeling tired, sweating, diarrhea etc. She prescribed Wellbutrin. She said he was depressed. He took this for a year and decided he had enough taking pills.
Taking Vicodin and Wellbutrin changed his personality. He said he felt weak and no longer wanted to fish and hunt or have any drives in life. He would always still go to work. Finally in late December 2013 we just finished a job with tight tolerances and the next day my father just would not get out of bed.
This tells you my father’s medical history. It doesn’t really show what a kind and loving person he is.
His doctor thought it would be a good idea to see a psychiatrist. We scheduled an appointment and in January 2014 my father was prescribed Brintellix 10mg.
The drug was so new that when we went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription the pharmacy had never heard of it and said it was going to take a few days to get the drug in. We called the doctor and sure enough he had some samples.
Just a few weeks taking Brintellix I noticed changes in my father. He started sweating at night and also had headaches. He began taking an occasional drink of alcohol. He increased from a pack of cigarettes a day to around 2.5 packs a day.
We had a doctor’s visit on Feb 11, 2014 and told the doctor all the symptoms but he wanted to continue with the medicine since my father was starting to go to work. The doctor said it takes a few weeks to start to take effect. The doctor made another appointment for my father for March 4, 2014.
As the weeks went by my father was still sweating, smoking around 3 packs a day now. I was making sure he did not drink.
Around February 20th my father stared to have weird symptoms of paranoia. He thought the FBI was following us and that the IRS was after him as well. I would tell him that its ok no one is following us. About a week later we had trash day, because of the snow the trash was not picked up. We came to work and brought the full trash can in. My father was very stressed that The FBI is watching us because the trash was not taken. I yelled at him and said to knock it off. We stopped talking about it and we back to work.
By February 27 I just couldn’t wait for the doctor visit. Just a few more days I thought.
Monday March 3 we drove into work together. My father was very quiet the whole ride into work. He had this confused look on his face. We were finishing up a job. I was busy setting up a machine. He asked me if I needed any help I told him that I was “all set”.
Approximately 5 mins later my Father shot himself in the face with a blackpowder gun. I ran into the room as fast as I could and saw him lying on the floor. I called 911. It felt like an hour passed even though they were there in 4 minutes.
I truly believe that Brintellix caused my father to commit suicide.
Fortunately my father survived. Till this day we still work together at his shop. When he got out of the hospital in April 2014, opening day of fishing was a week away. For the first time in 2 years he went with my brother and I fishing. We talk about what happened with Brintellix on a weekly basis. He has the scars that I think prove that Brintellix kills. We believe the medicine made him want to commit suicide. He never had any suicidal thoughts before Brintellix.
Was the doctor experimenting on us? Afterwards, the doctor wanted to up the dosage to 20mg. Why?
What can I do to bring about awareness that Brintellix can be dangerous?
Editorial Note: The writer of this piece has been trying to engage his father’s doctor but the doctor is refusing to engage. This is the key RxISK issue – how do we engage doctors? The chemicals in a medicine are risky – but the real risks lie in the prescriber. Working together it’s possible to manage most risks. As this gets published the author will have taken a RxISK report to the doctor – lets see what happens.
The other source of risks is the company. Brintellix comes with an extraordinary website – see above. A company who at first blush seem almost as open to hearing about and helping you with your adverse events as RxISK might be – until you read more closely. It deserves close reading. We’d love someone to do a post “translating” the company speak.