Today we are going to look back at the April 20, 1999 Columbine School massacre with the mother of one of the victims of that terrible shooting. Donna Taylor has agreed to share her own experience as a mother whose child was shot by a school classmate. Donna Taylor comes forward to talk on the Medical Whistleblower BlogTalk Radio show about her continuing concerns about the use of anti-depressant and SSRI drugs and their potential to increase violent tendencies in patient who take these psychiatric medications. Listen to the show live Monday October 3, 2011 at 11:00 AM Central Standard Time or later from the archives.
Her son, Mark Taylor was only a high school student when he had sustained terrible injuries during the violent shooting spree at the Columbine school. Lying on the ground for almost 2 hours before help could arrive; Mark had suffered incredible blood loss resulting from multiple bullet wounds. He was between the cafeteria entrance and the parking lot when the two shooters opened fire. In an effort to escape the gunmen, other students actually stepped on him in their attempt to flee the shooters. An officer finally came to Mark's aid, pulling him to safety behind a nearby shed. After the shooting, Mark had extensive hospitalization and was in and out of the hospital three times. The traumatic memory of that day will always remain with Mark Taylor. It is difficult to forget the memories of the shooting and lying there helpless for two hours with bullets whizzing around him while he lay bleeding from nearly a dozen bullet wounds. Some bullets still even now remain embedded in his spine and near his aorta. Because of the way the bullets ravaged Mark's body, it was even impossible for the surgeons to count the wounds. The estimated bullet count ranges from 8 to 13.
Miraculously, Mark showed courage, strength and resiliency and eventually went on to a full medical recovery. With his mother's support and love, Mark even wrote a book about his experience and went on a book tour. His book in which he recounts not only the horror of that day but also his own pathway to recovery is called "I Asked, God Answered " a Columbine miracle." His book is about his spiritual journey and forgiveness. He has forgiven shooters Harris and Dylan Klebold and their families. Mark Taylor was even was brave enough to testify before the FDA about the dangers of these anti-depressant and SSRI drugs. Mark appeared in Michael Moore's 2002 documentary film 'Bowling for Columbine'.
Because of the notoriety of the case, Mark Taylor was interviewed on numerous television broadcasts and his story in public eye. Mark Taylor sued Solvay Pharmaceuticals, saying that their anti-depressant Luvox made Eric Harris psychotic and violent. Because of his horrendous experience, Mark Taylor became a truth teller regarding the dangers of antidepressants and SSRI medications and how those medications cause patients to have violent thoughts, homicidal ideations and thoughts of suicide. These drugs have long been known to have these severe side effects and there is a black box warning about this required by the FDA to be put on these medications. But doctors ignore these warnings and give these medications to patients anyway. One of these patients receiving this kind of medication was Eric Harris, the student who decided that fateful day to shoot and kill his fellow students at Columbine. This antidepressant, Luvox is still on the market and now has "homicidal ideation" listed as a side effect. Homicidal ideation is not just one thought of homicide, but constant ruminating thoughts of killing and how to accomplish that. This FDA required warning label about tendencies to violence was based on pre-marketing research data. This research data was known even before the drug ever hit the market or was approved by the FDA, but the information was kept from an unsuspecting public and the drug marketed for years. Eric Harris, one of the Columbine shooters, was taking the anti-depressant Luvox when he decided to kill his fellow students.
The first antidepressant Eric Harris was given was Zoloft. Within six weeks of taking the drug Eric reported he was having homicidal and suicidal thoughts. Clearly doctors suspected the antidepressant because they took him off the drug immediately. Eric Harris was taken off that drug but then was put on Luvox. The Luvox caused him to also have violent thoughts and with homicidal intent Eric Harris killed students at Columbine. The Columbine families filed a legal law suit against Solvay, the maker of the antidepressant Luvox. The drug companies threatened to counter sue to Columbine victims so as a result all the victims retracted their law suits except Mark Allen Taylor. Mark stood up to the pressure and intimidation by the big drug company which had much to lose by the publicity brought by Mark's tragic victims story. Solvay already had bad press about their drug hitting the news because a patient, Matthew Beck, who was also on Luvox, went on a shooting spree at the Connecticut Lottery killing four co-workers before taking his own life. In another Luvox case, a decorated police officer from New Jersey was prescribed Luvox and while on this medication he shot six persons -- killing them. This police officer, Edward L. Lutes along with Mark Allen Taylor filed a lawsuit against Luvox. This lawsuit caused the drug manufacturer to pull the drug off the market in the U.S.A. Even though Mark Taylor had survived more gunshot wounds during the shooting rampage than anyone else, Mark did not given in to the intimidation by the pharmaceutical company's legal actions. Mark's courage and that of a decorated police officer in NJ, Edward L. Lutes, forced a stop on the sale of this dangerous drug, Luvox.
But this stop on the marketing and sale of this dangerous drug, Luvox , which had already caused these violent deaths, was unfortunately short lived. The pharmaceutical industry has great political and financial power over what happens in mental health care. During the legal negotiations, Mark Taylor was subsequently legally ill advised by an attorney who encouraged him to sign a settlement agreement anyway. Mark was clearly emotionally suffering PTSD as a result of the shooting trauma, but he was kept all day in negotiations with the opposing attorneys for hours and was lead to believe that he was himself in legal trouble. In this vulnerable situation, Mark Taylor was deceived and coerced into signing a settlement with the drug maker Solvay. This attorney who advised signing the settlement agreement, was later determined to have formerly worked for the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and was on continuing friendly terms with the pharmaceutical industry and was urging Mark Taylor to sign settlement papers so as to rapidly close the case. Then after the settlement was signed the judge decided to seal the evidence on the case. This made the evidence of the homicidal effects of this drug Luvox unavailable to public scrutiny. Then Solvay sold the market rights to Luvox in the USA to Jazz Pharmaceuticals.
Now years later, Mark Taylor's efforts to expose the dangers of antidepressants and how they cause patients to have homicidal thoughts has been silenced for Mark Taylor is now being treated with the very class of drugs that he warned the public about. After many public appearances about the dangers of psychiatric medications like Luvox, Mark and his mother, Donna Taylor were traveling in Arizona when suddenly he seemed to be having seizures. Going immediately to the emergency hospital, Mark and his mother were ill prepared for the actions of the mental health professionals who then unexpectedly decided to keep him hospitalized on a long term basis. Mark then ended up in a hospital while his family was prevented from communicating with him and he was ultimately held without his family's consent for over a year, while being force drugged.
While hospitalized the Arizona Mental Health Officials, choose to put Mark on a psychiatric drug that is considered a "last resort" medication: Clozapine (sold as Clozaril, Azaleptin, Leponex, Fazaclo, Froidir; Denzapine, Zaponex in the UK; Klozapol in Poland, Clopine in NZ/Aus). Clozapine is an antipsychotic medication used in the treatment of schizophrenia, and is also used off-label in the treatment of bipolar disorder. There are three pharmaceutical companies that market this drug at present: Novartis Pharmaceuticals (manufacturer), Mylan Laboratories and Ivax Pharmaceuticals (market generic clozapine). Clozapine was the first of the atypical antipsychotics to be developed, It was first introduced in Europe in 1971, but was voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturer in 1975 after it was shown to cause agranulocytosis, a condition involving a dangerous decrease in the number of white blood cells, that led to death in some patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally approved clozapine's use but only for treatment-resistant schizophrenia. The FDA requires blood testing for patients taking clozapine. The FDA also requires clozapine to carry five black box warnings for agranulocytosis, seizures, myocarditis, for "other adverse cardiovascular and respiratory effects", and for "increased mortality in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis." In 2002 the FDA approved clozapine for reducing the risk of suicidal behavior for patients with schizophrenia. Clozapine is usually used as a last resort in patients that have not responded to other anti-psychotic treatments due to its danger of causing agranulocytosis as well as the costs of having to have blood tests continually during treatment. The withdrawal effects clozapine are severe and life-threatening.
Mark, the courageous Columbine miracle boy, who survived what many did not, and who lived to be an advocate for others, is now hospitalized long term with doctors forcing on him the very type of drug that he advocated should be removed off the market. This drugging regime has left Mark unable to communicate and to care for himself. His mother, Donna Taylor, has been appointed as his legal guardian. Now, under the best of circumstances, Mark Taylor faces at least one to two years of recovery. So Mark has been victimized again by the pharmaceutical industry and the medical professionals who support this forced drugging with anti-depressants and SSRI's and he may never fully recover from this continued misuse and abuse of psychiatric medications.