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Will The Governor Include MedWatch Training To Proposed Mental Health Initiatives?
Sandy Hook Shooter Proves Need For Inclusion
In an apparent response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Connecticut Governor, Dannel P. Malloy, has announced increased funding in the state’s mental health budget. Why?
If shooter, Adam Lanza, had been a product of the state mental health system there may be some evidence to back up such broad changes, and this increased spending may make sense. But, to date, there is no evidence that Lanza received any state mental health assistance.
In fact, based on what little information has been made public about Lanza’s mental health treatment, it appears that, beyond school recommendations to the family, the father’s private insurance was used and the family did not depend on state sponsored benefits.
Of course, the last publically known mental health treatment Lanza received was from the Yale Child Study Center, which, oddly enough, provided information to investigators about an adverse drug event Lanza was experiencing from the prescribed antidepressant, Celexa.
According to the State Police investigation of the shooting, Yale Child Study Center Registered Nurse, Kathleen Koenig, prescribed Celexa to Lanza and was “immediately” contacted by Nancy Lanza, who reported that her son was “unable to raise his arm.”
Did Koenig recommend discontinuation of the antidepressant? No. In fact, Koenig told police investigators that she tried to “convince Nancy Lanza that the medication was not causing any purported symptoms which Adam might be experiencing.”
Koenig’s response seems questionable. First it is important to point out that Celexa has not been approved for use by children, so the prescription was written “off-label” when Adam was 15 years old. More importantly, though, the “serious side effects” include: “call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as: very stiff (rigid) muscles.”
To the layman, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Lanza, unable to lift his arm, may have been experiencing one of the serious side effects of the antidepressant. In fact, a quick perusal of the internet reveals many reports of similar complaints associated with Celexa.
Is it possible that Koenig was unaware of the specific side effects associated with Celexa? Did Koenig review the possible adverse side effects of Celexa before providing her medical advice?
Koenig further reports to investigators that “Nancy Lanza was not receptive to Koenig’s reasoning,” and that Nancy Lanza “missed at least one scheduled appointment…and failed to schedule subsequent appointments for Lanza.”
Again, given Koenig’s response to Nancy Lanza regarding what very likely could be a serious adverse reaction to the psychiatric drug, is it so tough to understand why Nancy Lanza decided to end her son’s relationship with the Yale Child Study Center?”
It is interesting to note, however, that investigators do not mention whether Koenig reported this adverse drug event to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch System. Nor do investigators mention whether Koenig advised Nancy Lanza that she could report the adverse event to the FDA herself.
Ablechild believes that the MedWatch System is an important, no-cost, tool that is necessary for the FDA to make safety recommendations and post warnings to consumers about drugs. In an effort to provide consumers with this important information, Ablechild is lobbying State lawmakers in an effort to have information about the MedWatch System made part of any new mental health training among educators and mental health care workers.
Given that the Yale Child Study Center receives state mental health funding, it seems appropriate that Governor Malloy might consider it important for organizations, such as the Yale Child Study Center, be made aware of the availability to consumers about the MedWatch System.
It’s only speculation, but it would appear that Nancy Lanza’s reporting of the adverse drug event her son was experiencing was a perfect time for an organization, such as Yale Child Study Center, to take advantage of the FDA’s MedWatch System.