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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

EFFEXOR Efexor venlafaxine - baby Schultz inquest denied - Fiddaman counterpoint blog

By Jeremy Deutsch - Kamloops This Week

Published: October 10, 2011 1:00 PM

Updated: October 10, 2011 1:50 PM

It was hardly the response a grieving Merritt family was expecting to receive.

Amery Schultz and his family were hoping the B.C. Coroners Service would order an inquest into the death of their newborn son Matthew, but the agency has declined.

Matthew died only two hours into his life on Feb. 21, 2009 at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops, and Schultz is convinced an antidepressant drug called Effexor, also known by its clinical name venlafaxine, prescribed to his wife during her pregnancy was the cause.

“The picture they [the coroner’s service] would like painted is that our son was born, he was perfectly healthy and at an hour old, he went into cardiac respiratory arrest and the book is closed,” a frustrated Schultz told KTW.

“I’m at an impasse. I don’t know what to do.”

In August, the family sent a detailed letter to chief coroner Lisa Lapointe, asking that Matthew’s case be reopened and a formal inquest be held.

The Shultzes received a two-page reply dated Sept. 14, on behalf of the chief coroner.

“My review of this investigation does not support the conclusion that re-opening it for further investigation or inquest would result in additional information being available,” Lapointe said in the letter.

She said the coroners service made “extensive efforts” to gather all the information it could in determining the circumstances of Matthew’s death.

The letter also noted that, to ensure the circumstances of Matthew’s death reaches a wider audience, the case is being reported to Health Canada.

The case will also be reviewed by the coroners service child death review unit as part of its legislated mandate.

KTW asked to speak to Lapointe for further comment, but her office referred her comments to the letter sent to the Schultz family.

According to the original coroner’s report, a detailed autopsy on Matthew showed no anatomic cause of death, but the possibility was raised of venlafaxine exposure being a contributing factor.

Brain-tissue samples were sent to a research facility in the U.S. for examination to determine if there was an underlying susceptibility to the class of antidepressants.

But, the report noted, it was unclear how prenatal exposure to Effexor might have contributed to Matthew’s death, if at all.

The report concluded the significance of the exposure to venlafaxine in utero is unknown and made no recommendations.

Unbeknownst to the couple, venlafaxine had been under a Health Canada warning since 2004.

The government agency had advised that newborns may be adversely affected when pregnant women take a specific group of antidepressants during the third trimester of pregnancy.

The list included venlafaxine.

The Schultzes said their family doctor never told them about the possible risks of taking the drug during pregnancy.

Schultz is extremely critical of the coroners service and argued it wasn’t interested in looking at new documents he sent as part of his request.

He also argued every agency he’s dealt with through the ordeal has been “standoffish.”

“I’m not giving up on this,” Schultz said.

He said all his family wants is for the government to acknowledge there could be a problem with pregnant women taking antidepressants and to implement protocols to monitor babies exposed to the prescription drugs as is done for illegal drugs.

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