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Did Effexor Help Fuel a Killer?

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Tallahassee, FLIt's one thing to accuse a drug of having the potential for causing Effexor birth defects, for which Effexor has been accused. The antidepressant has been named in various lawsuits alleging heart defects in babies born to mothers who had been prescribed Effexor for depression.

However, the potential result of taking Effexor in tandem with another drug—together with a high intake of caffeine—lay at the root of a controversial trial in Florida that recently ended with a jury verdict of guilty, with a recommendation for death.

In Florida, judges presiding over the sentencing of an accused usually follow the recommendation of the jury in such matters.

This is the bizarre case of Gary Michael Hilton, a drifter who was convicted of murdering two women. A pharmacist at his trial testified that a combination of prescriptions for the stimulant Ritalin, together with Effexor and caffeine, could cause manic behavior in people. Hilton was also inclined to consume copious amounts of coffee, which some suggested would have served to exacerbate the situation.

Hilton's prosecutors attempted to paint the defendant as a psychopath.

Regardless of whatever fostered the behavior that resulted in the gruesome deaths of two women, Effexor was along for the ride, so to speak, and was part of the pharmaceutical equation that impacted his blood stream and thought processes in the days and weeks leading up to two murders.

Florida TV station WTXL reported that Hilton was already serving a life sentence for the January 2008 decapitation murder of Athens, Georgia resident Meredith Emerson, 24, when a jury in Tallahassee condemned Hilton to death for the decapitation murder of Cheryl Dunlap a year earlier.

The bodies of both women were found in forested areas where Hilton had gone camping.

Professor of pharmacology William A. Morton could not say at trial if Hilton was acting under the influence of Ritalin, Effexor and caffeine at the time the murders took place. However, he testified that the combination of drugs could have pushed the man into a manic rage.

It is not known if the families of the murdered women would be launching an Effexor lawsuit.


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