Bay Area Teen’s Suicide Blamed On Online Pharmacy, Christian Hageseth Involved

San Francisco

March 14, 2006

Bay Area Teen’s Suicide Blamed On Online Pharmacy
by Thuy Vu

PALO ALTO (CBS 5) ― The easy availability of prescription drugs over the Internet is being blamed for the death of a Bay Area teenager.

David McKay still doesn’t know why his son John secretly turned to an online pharmacy to buy the anti-depressant drug Prozac.

“He wasn’t showing symptoms of depression,” McKay said. “The times I saw him, he was very upbeat.”

Last summer, John committed suicide. He was 19 and a nationally known debate champion.

His father’s shock turned to anger when he investigated the online pharmacy his son used: It does not require a faxed or mailed prescription from a licensed physician. A doctor in Colorado signed off on John’s Prozac request without ever talking to him.

“I think if he had proper diagnosis and treatment, he’d still be alive,” David McKay said.

McKay is suing the Web site’s operator and the doctor, Christian Hageseth, whose license was restricted after an improper relationship with a patient. Hageseth told us by phone he has “no comment.”

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, there are 1,000 Internet pharmacies, yet only 200 of them are considered reputable.

The reputable sites show a seal from the Boards of Pharmacy. But many other sites are reckless.

“Currently, it is too easy to obtain prescription medications over the Internet from these disreputable sites,” said Angie Graham, drug information coordinator at Stanford Medical Center.

Graham says some studies have shown Prozac has serious risks, specifically suicidal thinking and suicidal behavior.

McKay hopes his lawsuit will make it more difficult to obtain Prozac and other prescription drugs.

“I would hope it would send a message to those operating illegally that they’ll be held accountable,” McKay said.

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