Teen’s family sue four GPs over her death

In a landmark case, the Queensland family of a 14 year-old girl who took her own life are suing four GPs who prescribed her the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline, claiming it caused her death.

Angel Cowie (pictured) overdosed on the drug in February 2014, and now her parents and sister are suing the doctors for negligence, as well as breach of duty of care and breach of contract.

The District Court claim alleges amitriptyline, marketed as Endep, is inappropriate for treating major depressive disorders in adolescents and carries a “significantly higher risk of suicide or higher rate of death in the event of an overdose than newer non-tricyclic antidepressants”.

A major review published in the Lancet recently found only one drug, fluoxetine, is suitable for teenagers.

“Fluoxetine is probably the best option to consider when a pharmacological treatment is indicated,” according to the review, which looked at the efficacy and safety of 14 common antidepressants.

In the case of Angel, the District Court claim says that after telling one of the GPs that she had been self-mutilating for two months, she was prescribed a daily dose of 10mg of amitriptyline.

The same GP increased the dose to 25mg, the claim alleges.

Angel was subsequently prescribed increasing amounts of the drug between June 2013 and February 2014 by three other GPs as her condition worsened.

The daily doses increased from 10mg, to 25mg, to 50mg, and finally 75mg, which she was prescribed 16 days before she took an overdose of amitriptyline and died.

According to the claim filed by Maurice Blackburn, each family member has suffered shock and distress as a result of Amber’s death

Lawyer Margaret Brain said that the prescribing practices by the four GPs were “totally inappropriate”.

The GPs being sued were yet to file a defence to the claim.