Paragraphs 9 & 10 read: "Olsen was also treated for depression in 1992 with Zoloft."
"'I became manic psychotic. About 25 per cent of the population will have a serious adverse reaction. I was educated about these side effects and I had sold drugs that caused these side effects.'"
Paragraphs 5 & 6 read: "Olsen's niece set herself on fire and died after being on an antidepressant."
"'She burned herself alive. She said . . . 'I'd rather be dead than feel crazy like I feel on those drugs.'"
Former drug rep has horror stories to tellMon, September 11, 2006
By KATHY RUMLESKI, FREE PRESS REPORTER
Calling her book and North American tour a child-advocacy campaign, Gwen Olsen is warning parents of the dangers of some antidepressants and psychotropic drugs.
After spending 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, selling some of the drugs she now says can be deadly, Olsen has blown the whistle on her old employers and published Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher: God's Call to Loving Arms.
"I had a moral responsibility to tell people everything I knew," she said in a phone interview from her home in Texas.
What Olsen knows is horrendous.
Olsen's niece set herself on fire and died after being on an antidepressant.
"She burned herself alive. She said . . . 'I'd rather be dead than feel crazy like I feel on those drugs.'
The niece was prescribed medication following a car accident. She had problems when she stopped taking the drug.
"She got addicted and when she tried to withdraw she became depressed," Olsen said. Her doctor prescribed her an antidepressant and that sent her spiralling downward, leading to suicide.
Olsen was also treated for depression in 1992 with Zoloft.
"I became manic psychotic. About 25 per cent of the population will have a serious adverse reaction. I was educated about these side effects and I had sold drugs that caused these side effects."
Olsen walked away from her job and her career in 2000 when her bosses asked her to sell the antidepressant Celexa.
In clinical studies, this medication had increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents who had depression and other psychiatric disorders.
Olsen said children are more vulnerable to the side effects of these medications because of their developing organs.
"They are three times as likely to react to these drugs as an adult is."
Olsen said there is "rampant economic incentive to over-prescribe drugs.
"This is a social control mechanism."
Psychotropic drugs were a big part of Canada's $24.8 billion pharmaceutical industry in 2005. In the U.S. $3.3 billion was spent on drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Olsen said kids diagnosed with ADHD may be helped with natural treatments.
She suggested parents try getting more Omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as flax, krill or fish oil, into their children's diet and eliminate refined carbohydrates and aspartame.
Olsen has another dire warning for parents. Once someone gets started on these mental-illness drugs, he or she may never get off them.
"It's a lifelong customer for the pharmaceutical industry. They alter the pathology of brain chemistry so you can't get off them. They're extremely addictive."
Western Lamplighter Inn on Wellington Road on Sept. 23 for a presentation and book signing. Tickets for the two-hour event, beginning at 10 a.m., are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Call 519-673-1132 for more information or tickets.