PUPIL'S SUICIDE MAY BE LINKED TO ACNE DRUG

The Times

08/05/1998

A SIXTH-FORMER killed himself after taking an anti-acne drug that has been linked to teenage suicides in America, an inquest was told yesterday.

David Tebby, 18, was prescribed Roaccutane by his doctor to clear up his severe acne, but within months of starting a course of the tablets he developed suicidal tendencies and threw himself off a multistorey car park.

His parents are planning legal action against Roche, the manufacturers, for not giving stronger warnings about the dangers. Some 2,000 people a year are believed to be prescribed the drug in Britain.

The US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the drug this year after it was linked to 12 suicides in the United States. Roche agreed to change the labelling to say that it could lead to suicide, but only on drugs prescribed in America. Data collected by the World Health Organisation has also implicated the drug in 720 reports of psychiatric problems, including more than 100 suicides and suicide attempts.

David had been offered places at three universities, and was described as the most popular boy at his school in Caerleon, South Wales. Newport Coroner's Court was told that he had begun taking Roaccutane two years ago. Kevin LePrevost, the coroner's clerk, said: "The Food and Drug Administration has decided that the warning should be strengthened. The Medical Control Agency in Britain is considering doing the same."

Mr Tebby's father, Michael, told the inquest that his son had had a promising future. He said: "Since he began taking the tablets we noticed he had been depressed. He made an earlier attempt on his life by taking a Paracetamol overdose, but I didn't think he was serious." David left notes for his family, then went to a multistorey car park at Newport. He was seen running to the top where he leapt to his death without hesitating.

The Gwent Coroner, David Bowen, ruled that he committed suicide while the balance of his mind was disturbed. He said: "There is the possibility that this drug played a part in his death." After the case, Mr Tebby and his wife, Pat, who have another son, called for an inquiry into the drug. "When we feel strong enough we will take action against the drug company," Mr Tebby said. Roche said eight million people worldwide had taken the drug. "We have had isolated reports of depression and very rarely suicide but we do not think there is a link."