SSRI Timeline

Mid-1950s—Dr. Felix Sulman begins research on people with high serotonin levels due to their inability to metabolize serotonin. He finds that serotonin is a stress neuro-hormone that leads even docile animals to be aggressive.

July 1978
—Eli Lilly uses human subjects in controlled clinical trials of early SSRIs. First group shows no improvement in their depression, but side effects and adverse reactions include uncontrollable shaking and trembling.

Late 1980s—SSRIs make their U.S. market debut. SSRIs most commonly prescribed are Prozac (made by Lilly), Paxil (GlaxoSmithKline), Zoloft (Pfizer), and Celexa and Lexapro (Forest).

March 3, 1986—Lilly withholds SSRI suicide data from Food and Drug Administration but will reverse field in four years after being pressured by researchers in U.S. and Germany.

Spring 1990—Prozac, featured on covers of New Yorker and Newsweek magazines, is touted as “new wonder drug for depression.”

1993—FDA approves Prozac for treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

July 1997—Mayo Clinic finds that elevated serotonin levels cause buildup of glossy substance on heart valves.

April 1998—In Springfield, Oregon, 15-year-old Kip Kinkel (an SSRI patient) kills his parents and two high school classmates. A year later, a young man taking SSRIs would join with a friend to do even worse at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

1998—GlaxoSmithKline conducts Study 329, testing effectiveness of its antidepressant drug Paxil in younger patients. Negative results are concealed by use of hired ghostwriters.

January 2000—Zoloft overtakes Prozac as most popular SSRI.

October 2003—FDA issues “dear doctor” letter, saying studies may link SSRIs and juvenile suicide.

2004—FDA calls for “black-box” warning about suicide risk in children using SSRIs but not for adults.

2005—Global market for antidepressants is huge, topping $16 billion.

June 2005—Study published in Journal of the American Medical Association shows that use of antidepressants has grown greatly since early 1990s, but rates of suicidal ideation, gestures and attempts among adults have remained basically the same.

March 2006—Class action lawsuit filed in Philadelphia, hometown of GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil. It is filed on behalf of an 11-year-old Kansas boy and a 17-year-old Texas girl, both of whom took Paxil and committed suicide—and theoretically all other juveniles who took the drug and killed themselves.

July 19, 2006—FDA calls for new warnings on labels of SSRIs after study published in New England Journal of Medicine finds that mothers who took SSRIs in second half of pregnancy were six times more likely to give birth to babies with persistent pulmonary hypertension.

2006—FDA recommends expansion of SSRI suicide warning to include young adults from 18 to 25.

2006—Finnish study shows that SSRI patients are more likely to attempt suicide but less likely to succeed.

January 2007Archives of Internal Medicine publishes Canadian study linking antidepressant use among elderly with broken bones.

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