March 24, 2023

CBS 5 Investigates claims the manufacturer had evidence decades ago before Singulair went on the market that it affected the brain.

You have probably heard of singulair it has been prescribed tens of millions of times for allergies and asthma but the drug can trigger dangerous side effects and we’re investigating claims the manufacturer had evidence the drug could affect the brain decades ago before the drug even went to market desperate cries from an eight-year-old boy suicides just

Some of the potential side effects few people would associate with an allergy and asthma medication i had a bad temper that i had never experienced before katie johnson describes a major change in her personality i was very short with my husband i was very short with my coworkers she says dark even suicidal thoughts began taking over her mind just weeks after she

Started taking singulair those thoughts took her down a dangerous path i would be driving my car to work and there were times where i could remember i wanted to drive my car off a bridge what happened when you went off singular it was like a switch went off and immediately i was back to my normal self for katie side effects were a short episode but for others

These little pills are behind a traumatic and confusing journey what warnings were you given when you were given the drug i don’t think any just take it bedtime singular was prescribed to cami pawnee’s son tyson when the outgoing little five-year-old who loved being a big brother began suffering from allergies he was having trouble breathing at night i would

Hear him wheezing yes he was able to go outside and run and play again she says at first it was like a wonder drug but after more than a year of taking the medication subtle changes started he would scrunch his nose all the time shrug his shoulders and he didn’t seem aware of it when i asked him to stop gradually there were more changes tyson went from happy and

Active to angry and uncontrollable the sound of his sister’s voices sent him into fits of rage and he started to hate school which was odd he loved school was always a star student he would scream before we’d get in the car he would scream the whole way to school he wouldn’t get out of the car how big of a personality shift was that it was huge this was not this

Was not him it would just be strange meltdowns over just random things like what color cup i gave him or what he had for dinner and it would turn into tantruming loops for hours where you couldn’t console him at all desperate to figure out what was happening cammy took tyson to multiple doctors one diagnosed him with adhd others rode off the symptoms or blamed

His age searching everywhere for information cami was eventually directed to an online support group dedicated to the side effects of singulair and that’s when the light bulb went off and i was like that is it that that’s our problem singular helps prevent asthma symptoms before they start at more than 30 million prescriptions annually singular and its generic

Monolucas is one of the most prescribed drugs in the country a decade after singular went on the market warnings the drug could cause mental issues were included in the packaging but not generally advertised side effects are generally mild and vary by age in march of 2020 in a move that went largely unnoticed due to the pandemic the fda gave the drug a black box

Warning its most serious warning that a drug may cause injury or death stating because of the risk of mental health side effects the benefits of monolith may not outweigh the risks in some patients why after 20 something years are we just now putting this significant warning on this drug attorney kim beck is connected to a number of lawsuits claiming the drugs

Manufacturer merck had evidence more than 20 years ago before the drug went to market that it could affect the brain in documents for singular’s approval animal testing showed 24 hours after a dose the amount of drug goes down in the lungs but actually increases in the brain these rad studies that demonstrate uh that this drug does pass the blood brain barrier

And merck had an obligation to at very least say is this a potential problem do we need to study this so are you saying that merck didn’t do that based on the information we have right now it certainly does not appear that merck did that and back in the 90s before singular was approved to treat allergies and asthma the manufacturer applied for a patent for the

Drug to treat a condition where blood vessels narrow in the brain why would the timing of that patent be important merck was saying hey this drug may pass the blood brain barrier and be able to treat cerebral spasms that’s two years before the drug first hit the market in 1998 taking a closer look at the new warnings on singulair one of the recommendations is

To stop taking the drug immediately if mental health symptoms occur which is what cami did with her son it is severe psychiatric distress when they stop taking it cami says when they stopped taking the drug cold turkey tyson suffered what she called extreme withdrawal he got to a point where we didn’t i didn’t know if i needed to check him into the er we had

To put him in a car seat because his body was flailing out of control as tyson’s symptoms got worse again cami says doctors did not help i had a doctor laugh at me when i brought him in he was screaming this was probably about a week or two after stopping she she dismissed me completely was just laughed at me said medication couldn’t cause this we wanted to ask

Merck if they’ve studied the effects of suddenly stopping the medication but the company declined our request for an interview the fda told us evidence was not strong enough to recommend tapering off the dose but reading through documents we found the fda investigated just 17 reports of withdrawal even though the agency was told hundreds of people in a facebook

Group reported suffering withdrawal symptoms most were children you have the box warning that says stop taking immediately if the symptoms develop and then you have singular users who say they went through withdrawals when they stopped using the medicine now those are conflicting messages for people right you know i think it is really it’s case by case i think

What’s what’s important to remember is to always of course include your provider or your physician in these decisions an expert on addiction and mental health dr erin wilson says doctors should monitor any medication changes because side effects can be mistaken for other serious conditions so if a medication is causing significant depression anxiety and we’re

Over here like hey let’s let’s put an antidepressant on there let’s try to treat that anxiety you end up kind of chasing your tail and then maybe you get side effects from your antidepressant and then you end up in this just huge kind of feedback loop let me get up first for tyson withdrawal was difficult but the results astounding you can see the change in

His handwriting this was just a few months after going off the medication when i was talking to your mom do you remember the time that we were talking about when i went crazy tell me what you remember i remember me flipping out a lot just not having control over myself does that seem like you no okay perfect tyson is now nine years old happy active and social

He says he could not have done things like ride a horse when he was on singulair anger and a lack of self-control would have made him want to hurt himself or the horse but those feelings are gone how would you say you are now now i’m better on myself i’ve got control of myself that has to be a big relief for you yeah it is cami now helps run the facebook group

Dedicated to raising awareness on the effects of singulair the group that she says gave her not just information but hope it was keeping me up at night knowing there’s other families going through the same thing hi you’re not alone and they’re going to be back don’t you’ll see that sparkle in their eye again we want to emphasize never stop taking a medication

Based on what you see in a news story talk to your doctor and according to the fda there are a number of safe and effective alternatives and singular should only be used if other medications don’t work we do have a lot more information for you right now you’ll find it on our website chris pickle arizona’s family

Transcribed from video
Singulair's dangerous side effects: allergy medicine can cause depression and suicides By AZFamily 3TV and CBS 5 News