Family Sues Harvard Over Son's Suicide

CORRECTION APPENDED

The family of a Harvard undergraduate who committed suicide two years ago filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Harvard College and two professionals at University Health Services on Wednesday.

John B. Edwards III '10 was a sophomore preparing for a medical career and training for the Boston Marathon when he committed suicide in November 2007.

The lawsuit, filed by his father, John B. Edwards II, alleges that his son sought care at UHS in June 2007 because he could not study for as long a period of time as his friends. According to the complaint, a nurse practitioner prescribed Adderall to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in addition to two antidepressants, Prozac and Wellbrutin. Edwards was also taking Accutane, a powerful anti-acne drug. Three of these four drugs have been associated with heightened suicide risk.

Lisa G. Arrowood, the attorney representing Edwards, said that drug combination is inappropriate and is associated with an increased risk of suicide.

Harvard spokesperson Kevin Galvin released the following statement: “We understand how difficult it must be for John Edward’s [sic] family to cope with such a tragic loss, but we are confident that the care he received at Harvard University Health Services was thorough and appropriate and he was monitored closely by its physicians and allied health specialists. Similar complaints previously have been filed with the Board or Registration in Medicine, the Board of Registration in Nursing and the Board of Registration in Pharmacy, and in all three instances the complaints were dismissed upon review.”

CORRECTION

An earlier version of the Dec. 4 news article "Family Sues Harvard Over Son's Suicide" incorrectly stated that the drug allegedly perscribed to John B. Edwards III to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was not named in the lawsuit filings. In fact, the drug, Adderall, was named in the suit.

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