Oct 2, 2009 6:28 AM by Nicole Vandeputte

Local veteran says drug gave him homicidal thoughts

A local Iraq war veteran says a drug, used to fight depression and PTSD, made him have homicidal fantasies. He's come forward to News First 5 in hopes of giving out a warning, he says he never got.

He wanted to remain anonymous. So, we call him "Brad." He is sharing some of his darkest moments. "How far am I going to take this? You know, I've got kids at home. Am I going to blow up one time and snap and hurt them?"

He says thoughts of murder entered his mind a few weeks ago, but his problems go back to his time in Iraq. He was discharged in June of 2003 after an ankle injury. Last February, he says he was diagnosed with PTSD by doctors at the VA clinic in Colorado Springs. To help him, he says they started trying him out on different medications. "At one time, I was taking 8 or 9 pills," says Brad.

He says that stopped, but he kept having side effects from different medications. Then, about six weeks ago, they put him on Effexor, an anti-depressant. Brad says, "I just noticed that I started to have, I felt violent. I felt like I wanted to go back to Iraq. I felt like I wanted to hurt somebody."

He says he felt the urge 6 or 7 times. He says he's never wanted to hurt anyone, but all of a sudden he thought he might snap on strangers or even his children. "I was scared to death. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I started thinking I was going crazy," says Brad.

Brad says he stopped taking Effexor. According to the drug-maker Wyeth, some of Effexor's side effects include hallucinations, aggressiveness, and bizarre behavior. Brad says, "The VA never mentioned anything about any of those."

Wyeth also issued a statement in 2006 saying there was no link between Effexor and homicidal thoughts. That came after the drug was mentioned in a few murder cases. The most famous is that of Andrea Yates, the Texas mother convicted of drowning her 5 children. She was apparently on Effexor when it happened.
This afternoon we spoke with Jordan Schupbach. He's the public affairs officer for the VA Eastern Colorado Health System in Denver.  For confidentiality reasons, he wouldn't discuss Brad's case. In a statement he said, "It is the policy of the VA to include detailed information regarding dosage instructions and possible side effects with every prescription filled. It is also the general practice of our providers to discuss these matters with our patients at the time the prescription is written."

Brad says he was never warned. He also believes, wholeheartedly, the Effexor is what caused the homicidal thoughts. He stopped taking it 10 days ago, and says the homicidal thoughts stopped a week ago.

We asked Schupbach if there would be any follow up to Brad's case. He said he would not discuss his case.


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