Parents sue after son buys antidepressants, commits suicide
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
(03-14) 14:43 PST Menlo Park, Calif. (AP) --
The parents of a teenage debate champion who killed himself after taking a generic version of Prozac he secretly bought over the Internet have sued the Web site's operators, the doctor who wrote the prescription, and the pharmacy that mailed the pills.
David and Sheila McKay filed the wrongful death lawsuit in February in federal court in San Francisco.
The suit accuses the USAnetRX.com, Colorado psychiatrist Christian Hageseth III, and Mississippi-based Gruich Pharmacy Shoppe of negligence in helping their son John buy 90 capsules of the antidepressant fluoxetine last summer.
They are not suing the drug's manufacturer.
John McKay, 19, had fluoxetine in his system when he died on Aug. 2 of carbon monoxide and alcohol poisoning, according to the San Mateo County Coroner's Office. He had bought the pills seven weeks earlier.
McKay had just finished his freshman year at Stanford University and was a nationally ranked debate team champion at Menlo-Atherton High School.
His parents said their son did not show signs of depression and was not informed of possible side effects from the medication.
Prozac and similar antidepressants have been linked to suicides, but studies have not proven a connection. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether antidepressants cause suicidal thoughts or behavior.
"I think John would still be alive if he hadn't been able to get these pills," said David McKay.
The Web site does not require customers to fax or mail prescriptions like many mainstream pharmacies do. Instead, the site asks customers to complete an online questionnaire which is reviewed by one of its physicians.
A call by The Associated Press to the company's attorney Tuesday morning was not immediately returned.
Hageseth, the doctor who authorized the prescription, was not allowed to prescribe medication at the time because of a restricted license in Colorado due do an improper relationship with a patient, according to the suit.
Hageseth, who has since surrendered his license, told the San Jose Mercury News that he does not feel responsible for the teen's death.
"When somebody commits suicide usually there are many factors," he said.
Frank Gruich Jr., a representative for the Gruich Pharmacy Shoppe, said he also did not feel responsible for the teen's death.