Singulair: Doctors, Pharmacists, Regulators Shift Blame Over Asthma Drug Side Effects Warning

Last week 7.30 reported the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had received almost 90 reports of psychiatric events, including suicidal thoughts, in children and adolescents treated with Singulair’s active ingredient, a drug called montelukast.

Since then more parents have contacted the ABC saying their children became suicidal, depressed, or violently angry while taking Singulair. John, who did want his last name used, said his seven-year-old daughter had been taking Singulair for about a year when he noticed she started having irrational tantrums.

“They’d end up with her biting us and kicking us and screaming on the floor, and then after she’d calm down, which might be like an hour, she’d say things like ‘I can’t be good, it’s impossible, I’m not good enough, why was I ever born, I don’t like myself, why am I so weird, I hate myself,'” he said.

John said she started making comments like that every day. More families tell of asthma drug’s psychiatric effects ( AM ) “There is nothing in the world quite like hearing your seven-year-old full of self-loathing,” he said.

After searching online John and his wife learned Singulair could have behavioural side effects. They took their daughter off the drug and she was better within weeks.

Suicidal thoughts and actions, depression, aggression and hostility are listed side effects on the Consumer Medicines Information for Singulair, but like many parents John said he and his wife never got verbal or written warnings from their doctor or pharmacists, or information leaflets in boxes of Singulair.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) said parents might have been warned but not realised it.

“Most prescribers do warn, but it might not be in a way that the family have recognised it,” Richard Kidd, the chair of the AMA’s Council of General Practice, said.

“The doctor may have had said something to the effect that this medication could affect the way the child is thinking and, you know, if you’ve got any concerns come back at talk to me — which is not the same thing as saying your child could become suicidal, which is a really scary, confronting thing to say.”

He said it was pharmacists’ responsibility to give patients the Consumer Medicines Information.