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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 June, 2003, 19:44 GMT 20:44 UK
No proof over Prozac user's death
Wendy Hay
Wendy Hay was on Prozac when she died
A coroner has decided there is no conclusive proof the anti-depression drug Prozac contributed to a 52-year-old woman's death.

David Hinchliff recorded a narrative verdict at the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Wendy Hay.

The librarian was found hanged at her home in Arthington, near Otley, West Yorkshire, in September 2002.

Mr Hinchliff said that after listening to all the evidence no one could say with certainty that Prozac did or did not play a part in Mrs Hay's death.

But he said a minority of patients taking the drug may suffer some adverse side effects.

This was not a trial about Prozac and I would not want to see anybody who is on the drug stop taking it
Professor Alastair Hay

A narrative verdict is one in which a coroner simply records the circumstances surrounding the death.

Mr Hinchliff said: "There was evidence during the inquest that in a minority of patients who take this drug, that it may have adverse side effects.

"This drug may or may not have contributed to Wendy Hay's action."

The two-day inquest heard that Mrs Hay had suffered from clinical depression since the end of 1998.

Her husband Alastair, a professor of toxicology at Leeds University, told the court she had suffered a recurrence of her depression two months before she died and was later put on a standard dose of 20 milligrammes of Prozac a day.

Alastair Hay
Professor Hay looked at research into Prozac after his wife died

Her subsequent death prompted Mr Hay to conduct his own study into the link between Prozac use and suicidal thoughts in some patients.

Speaking after the verdict outside Leeds Coroner's Court, the professor said: "This was not a trial about Prozac and I would not want to see anybody who is on the drug stop taking it.

"That is something everybody needs to discuss with their doctor.

"The concern I have is of course with the death of my wife. It has been devastating and if this inquiry has done anything it might have indicated that some people like her may be at risk of suicide through taking their medication."

He called on the drug company Eli Lilly and the control authority in the UK to look at the evidence.

The BBC's James Westhead
"Taken by 44 million people worldwide"

Professor Alistair Hay
'I just wanted something that would help her'

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