I’d like to know why there has been so little media inquiry into what medications the Colorado shooting suspect was on.

Now that it has finally made it into the news that he was in fact seeing a psychiatrist, there is still no news about what meds he was taking, and what they might have been. The only reporting surrounds the much-demonized painkiller Vicodin, which many analysts have noted is hardly the sort of drug that triggers violent rampages.

I’d like to know whether he was on SSRI drugs of the sort that are commonly prescribed. He was seeing a psychiatrist, and the way they prescribe meds these days, it would seem very unusual if he wasn’t given meds. So a more fair question is not whether he was on meds, but simply, what meds was he on?

Inquiring minds want to know, and the sooner the better, because the topic is generating some nasty paranoid conspiracy theories. Like this:

People don’t get it. The media don’t get it and they don’t want to get it. Billions of dollars are riding on the drugs Dr. Lynne Fenton may have prescribed to her patient, James Holmes, the accused Batman shooter.

And when billions of dollars in potentially lost revenue are hanging in the balance, the interested parties take action. They’re serious about their money. They don’t screw around.

You see, if James Holmes was, for example, taking Prozac, all of a sudden no one wants to take it. If doctors prescribe it to patients, the patients say, “Hey, wasn’t this the drug that nutcase took before he killed all those people in the theater?”

And that’s not all. Congress holds hearings, not because they want to, but because they want to look like they’re doing the right thing. And at those hearings, all sorts of nasty stuff comes out about Prozac. It’s big news. The studies that showed the drug was dangerous, that it could and would cause people to commit suicide and homicide. Boom. More bad press for the manufacturer. More investigations. More lost revenue.

So right now, in Aurora, there are pharmaceutical people on the scene. Not just low-level goofballs, but competent investigators. They want to know what drugs James Holmes was prescribed. They need to know. And behind the scenes, people with clout are making phone calls. These pharma types are talking to government agents and it’s crazy time and damage-control time, and nobody is laughing. This is a high-stakes game. WHAT DRUGS WAS HOLMES TAKING?

I don’t like to subscribe to paranoid conspiracy theories, but I don’t think it’s fair to be putting Vicodin (which a number of activists already want banned) on the chopping block without looking at the big picture.  And IMO, this approach is not the best way to quell paranoid speculations:

[Judge] Sylvester has imposed a gag order on the lawyers and law enforcement agencies involved in the Holmes case, sealed court records and barred the university from releasing relevant public records to the media. The Washington Post and other news organizations are contesting his order.

Already, there are reports that his doctor (former military physician who runs the student mental health service) has been disciplined for keeping inadequate records regarding patient meds:

DENVER — The psychiatrist who was seeing Aurora movie theater shooting suspect James  Holmes, was reprimanded by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners in 2005. Dr. Lynne Fenton was reprimanded in February 2005 for prescribing medication to herself,  her husband and an employee, according to documents obtained by 7NEWS.

The medications were prescribed in the late 1990s and included prescriptions for Vicodin, Xanax, Lorazepam and Ambien.

According to the document, Fenton did not maintain a medical chart or enter appropriate entries for the charts relating to herself, her husband or the employee.

As part of the reprimand, Fenton completed more than 50 hours of medical training and had to promise not to prescribe medications for family members and employees.

It’s not known if Fenton prescribed any medications for Holmes while she was treating him.

I hate to sound paranoid, but I strongly suspect that it is known.

But some people don’t want the news getting out, because they fear that it will fuel more speculation like this:

The Columbine High School massacre took place on April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado. Eric Harris and Dylan Kybold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives. They injured 21 other students. It was then reported that Eric Harris had been rejected from joining the military because he was being treated with an SSRI medication called Luvox. Harris had been taking Luvox for a year while developing his plans for mass murder. Toxicology reports released by the drug maker showed that Harris had therapeutic levels of Luvox in his system at the time of the shootings.  Jeff Wise, a teenager who killed nine people before committing suicide had been taking large dosages of Prozac. A relative of Mr. Weise said that his dosages had been increased in the weeks leading up to the shooting, a reoccurring factor in SSRI induced suicides. In 1989, Joseph Wesbecker shot and killed eight co-workers and himself. He had been taking Prozac.  Cho Seung Hui, a 23-year-old Virginia Tech senior killed thirty-two people and wounded many others before committing suicide. It was reported that investigators believed he may have been prescribed medication for depression.

The common factor connecting all of these shooters is the use of SSRIs prior to the shootings.  Could it be possible that the SSRI was the catalyzing factor in driving these school shooters over the edge?  Could an increase in dosage have triggered Jeff Wise’s shooting spree? Preexisting mental illness in combination with SSRI induced emotional blunting, mania, and suicidal desires could have been the perfect recipe for these high casualty school shootings.

Again, I have no idea whether the shooter had been taking SSRIs. But what raised my suspicion was that the focus on Vicodin seemed like a distraction.  Especially when coupled with the gag on releasing his medical records.

I’m reminded of rampage killer Jared Loughner:

Elsewhere, Dr. Whitaker discusses the common thread between the Columbine High School shooters, spree shootings at a community center in Los Angeles, two brokerage firms in Atlanta, and a printing plant in Kentucky: SSRI antidepressants.   Every one of those shootings was perpetrated by people taking Prozac, Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil, or a related antidepressant drug. The medical records of Jared Lee Loughner, who killed six people and injured fourteen others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, have not been released. What is clear is that he suffered from depression and had a sudden and dramatic change in personality around 2006. His behavior on January 8 is frighteningly similar to many who take SSRIs.

Media reports at the time focused on Loughner’s pot smoking. (Again, a drug not noted for inducing violent behavior.) It seems to me that if the question of whether a suspect was on drugs is made relevant, the inquiry should be on all the drugs he was on, and not just familiar substances which conveniently push distracting hot buttons in that endless distraction called the Culture War.

Under the circumstances, the question “What drugs was he taking?” seems eminently fair.