Thu. May 19th, 2022

OAKVILLE, ONT. – David Carmichael wants his nightmare to be a warning to Canadians: know your drugs.

His name may not be known to many, but Carmichael made headlines in 2004 when he was charged with murder primarily at the death of his 11-year-old son, Ian.

He believed that his healthy son, who had a mild form of epilepsy, was brain damaged, dangerous and had to die. And then he smashed sleeping pills, stunned him and then strangled him while on a father-son weekend in London, Ont.

“After Ian died, I moved him to the middle of the bed. I kissed him on his lips. I told him I loved him, [that] ‘I’m really going to miss you, but you’re in a better place now.’ And then I turned on the television and watched it for six hours before calling the police. ”

David Carmichael in an interview with W5

Carmichael was diagnosed with a psychotic depression at the time of the murder. At his trial, he was found not criminally responsible and served four years at a psychiatric facility in eastern Ontario.

Oakville, Ont. man believes his psychosis was triggered by antidepressant Paxil. His wife, Beth, says, “He was a loving father. He was a good man. We did everything with the kids. And then the drug came into the picture and it was all taken away. ”

Beth Carmichael talks to W5

In a statement to W5, the manufacturers of Paxil, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, stated: “The tragic circumstances of this case serve as an important reminder that depression and other mental illnesses are serious disorders. The scientific evidence does not show that Paxil causes murderous, psychotic or violent behavior. ”

But Paxil’s own product information warns of the potential for “serious unrest, self-harm or harm to others.” And Health Canada says that since Ian’s death in 2004, 258 suspected serious side effects have been reported with Paxil, including 50 suicides, 211 cases of suicidal thoughts or attempts and 16 cases of suicidal ideation, hostility or violence. Health Canada warns that this reporting does not mean that the drug Paxil actually caused these reactions.

The problem with all prescription pills, not just Paxil, is that serious side effects are grossly underreported, meaning doctors, pharmacists and patients may not be on the lookout for side effects. It is estimated that less than 5 percent of the side effects have ever been reported to Health Canada.

Another concern is that Canadians do not read the often long, fine print of the prescriptions they take, which contain important information, including warnings and side effects.

Dr. Joel Lexchin, an associate professor at the University of Toronto specializing in drug regulation, said: “People are overwhelming to both Health Canada and their doctors. I do not think [doctors] are aware of the degree of risk of specific drugs, nor are the people taking them. ”

In fact, Lexchin said the federal health agency is not putting the resources into monitoring safety as it should. “Over the last about 15 years, Health Canada has consistently put about three to four times more people and more money into approving new drugs compared to monitoring the safety of drugs already on the market,” Lexchin said.

The underreporting of serious side effects can slowly change.

Since 2019, hospitals in emergency care in Canada — by law — have been mandated to report all cases to Health Canada. In the first 18 months of mandatory reporting, Health Canada says it received 9,100 reports of side effects from hospitals, an increase of 300 percent over the previous 18 months. However, Health Canada’s own website acknowledges “There is underreporting..with both voluntary and mandatory monitoring systems.”

David Carmichael wants to change that by sharing his tragic story on his tour across Canada, visiting cities and towns across the country and urging Canadians to report negative reactions and investigate possible reactions before hitting a pill. “It’s always difficult to get it out, but it’s part of my purpose. I feel I have to. It is part of my healing to try to prevent tragedies like the one our family has been through. That’s what keeps me going, ”he said.

How to report a serious side effect to Health Canada. And if you want to check your medication for a list of reported side effects, visit Rxisk.org. Information about David’s trip to Canada can be found on his website.

Watch W5’s ‘The Problem with Pills’ on Saturday at 19.00 on CTV

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