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Medical Miracles: Prozac

Meet your guide...

Cameron Heiman is a senior at Monona Grove High School and will be attending University of Wisconsin - La Crosse in the fall of 2017, with a major in Psychology. Depression has been a major disease leading back many years, that affects over 120 million people throughout the world. Prozac has been a beneficial drug used for this disease, that was invented in the 1900's and continues to improve. This is close to me because a significant person in my life has been treated with the drug.

Progress Points to Prozac

Medical Miracle

Before medications for depression were discovered, there was a restricted amount of treatments. The remedies included shock treatment, insulin coma therapy, as well as sleep-deprivation therapies. Learn more about the timeline of antidepressant drugs. 

Throughout the 1950s, researchers looked for a drug that treated schizophrenia. At an asylum in Switzerland, a drug was established that confused the brains neurotransmitters and it transported users into a state of euphoria. From this, the researchers realized the drug would work for patients with depression. The drug was called imipramine, but was marketed as Tofranil. Although these drugs treated 60%-80% of patients, they also caused severe side effects, such as weight gain, sluggishness, and sporadic death. Scientists explored the world the world of drugs, and it was not long before they discovered new antidepressant drugs. Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil came to the United States in the early 1990s. The researchers had found a drug that was a success. 

However, with the new drugs there were also cynics, or nonbelievers. A few patients expressed becoming violent, or suicidal. The drugs even sparked an interest in doctors to use them for "cosmetic psychopharmacology". The drugs have been prescribed to a wide range of recipients as well as a wide range of purposes. There was a study completed for the concern of over-prescription. Read the full article. 

Significant Discovery

There were three drugs invented throughout the 1950's, that were known as 'tricycles'. Further research had been completed and scientists of a company focused on serotonin, and discovered Prozac. Learn more about the discovery. 

The invention of Prozac was lead by a company called 'Eli Lilly'. Ray Fuller was the director of the team and was awarded the "Pharmaceutical Discoverer's Award from Narsad for discovering fluoxetine or Prozac."  Other members that were involved in the producing and distributing of the drug, are Bryan Molloy and David Wong. ​ A famous organic chemist also involved with the invention is Klaus Schmiegel. Klaus Schmiegel and Bryan Molloy were inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame and given the American Innovator Award Prozac was introduced in 1987, and within two years 65,000 prescriptions were being filled each month by pharmacies. Alternative innovations by the 'Eli Lilly" company include: the gelatin capsule, Iletin®, penicillin products, insulin, and several more. 


Emerging Innovations

The medical breakthrough of medications to aid in depression, have unlocked multiple options in the world of anti-depression drugs. In 1988 the first anti-depressant, Prozac was released, followed by Paxil, in 1991. Since the first antidepressant, many other modifications have been made to create a safer and more effective treatment. 

Read a '25 years after Prozac' article.

Learn about video games that aid in the treatment of depression here.

Social Impact


Positive Effects

Negative Effects


Prozac is used as a treatment for: OCD, bulimia nervosa, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, migraine head-aches, fibromyalgia

Side effects: increased sweating, nausea, nervousness impaired judgment, abnormal bleeding, vision problems, significant weight loss, seizures View more side effects.


Prior to Prozac, depression was identified as bad, which made people keep it a secret. The invention of Prozac, lead to a major societal change.

After generic brands of Prozac were created, the prices dropped, allowing consumers from any class to use it. Prozac was very expensive in the beginning, and was initially created for a profit.


Prozac is used for the treatment of depression. In some cases, when depression goes untreated, it could lead to suicide. Suicide is looked down upon in some religions.

Religions may have an issue with using drugs

as a treatment option.


Prozac creates a huge money increase.

Lawsuits could be made from negative side effects of the drug.


People who used the medication, functioned better and were more productive workers.

Prozac was very expensive until they allowed a generic version of the medication.

These pro's and con's all create in people an opinion. Everyone will have their own view of Prozac, however, the drug will continue to treat many diseases and disorders.

Depression Background

Depression is a major mood disorder that affects many people throughout the world. This disorder affects how you feel, think, and live. There are many different forms of depression. Signs and symptoms include: persistent sad and anxious mood, irritability, loss of interest, and countless more. Learn more about depression risk factors and treatments here.

Treatments for depression include:

  • Therapy
  • Medications
  • Specialists/ Medical Procedures


Help Hotlines:

What do you think?

KEEP What is your opinion on antidepressants?
I agree completely with the use of prozac in treatments.: 0 votes (0%)
I believe the treatment is beneficial.: 2 votes (66.67%)
I think they could be good, but I am still skeptical.: 0 votes (0%)
I am neither for, or against this treatment.: 0 votes (0%)
I need to learn more before I answer this question.: 0 votes (0%)
I believe this treatment does more harm, than good.: 1 votes (33.33%)
Total Votes: 3

Future Directions

Psychobiotics: Recent studies have provided a different, cheaper option that does not include the use of chemicals. However, many people have not paid much attention to this treatment. Read an article from Ireland. Catherine Stanton and John F. Cryan say, a psychobiotic is “a live organism that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produces a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.” Learn more about psychobiotics. Or read a psychobiotics article.

In my opinion, I believe that the use of Prozac, or other anti-depressant drugs, have their pro's and con's. The invention of these drugs has created numerous opportunities for the future. As medical procedures improve over the years, so do drugs and treatments. I think if there is a way for depression to be treated, without using drugs, that would be a great option to explore.

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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