The driver, Henri Paul, had been on three drugs, two of them prescription medications. One of those pharmaceuticals was a psychiatric drug already linked to more harmful reactions than any substance in the United States Food and Drug Administrations adverse reaction reporting system.
A search for toxic chemicals in the blood revealed therapeutic levels of a medication whose active ingredient is fluoxetine, the Paris prosecutors office stated. Fluoxetine is the main ingredient in the antidepressant Prozac.
Dr. Michael Craplet, a French expert, noted that the antidepressant compounded the effects of alcohol the driver had taken and, combined with the speed of the car and the stress, increased the risk of accident one thousand times.
How this evidence will be evaluated in terms of accountability is in the hands of the prosecutors office and, eventually, the courts which will consider the matter. That it forces an examination of the dangers of legal drugs is beyond question.
It is an examination long overdue. And similar tragedies here in the United States lead to deeper questions concerning public health.
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