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Acne Drug Prescribed for Teen Pilot Is Linked to Depression

January 09, 2002|From Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — A 15-year-old student pilot who killed himself by crashing an airplane into a skyscraper was prescribed an acne medication whose links to suicide and depression have been the subject of federal inquiries, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

A prescription for Accutane, used to treat severe acne, was found at the home of Charles J. Bishop, said Pinellas County sheriff's Maj. Sam Lynn.

"We are aware that he had a prescription," Tampa police spokeswoman Katie Hughes said. "We don't know if he was taking it, how long . . . we don't know those details."

Calls to Bishop's family were not returned.

The Food and Drug Administration says 147 people taking Accutane, which affects the body's central nervous system, either committed suicide or were hospitalized for suicide attempts from 1982 to May 2000.

There has yet to be any conclusive evidence, however, that the drug causes depression or promotes suicide, and the manufacturer maintains it is safe.

Toxicology tests that will determine if any drugs were in Bishop's system will be completed in about two weeks, said Lee Miller, an associate medical examiner in the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner's Office.

Bishop, a high school freshman, stole an airplane from a flight school at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport on Saturday and crashed it into the 28th floor of the Bank of America Plaza in downtown Tampa. A note expressing sympathy for Osama bin Laden and support for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was found with him.

Police describe Bishop as a troubled loner. But the youth's family, teachers and flight instructors said he never showed signs of depression and his actions Saturday were out of character.

His family and teachers have described him as an intelligent, friendly young man who was not isolated from others.

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