Henri Paul: Prozac and Alcohol

Princess Diana's Driver Had Traces of Two Drugs in His Blood

Henri Paul Driving Princess Diana
Henri Paul Driving Princess Diana. © Getty Images

What may have impaired the driver in the crash that killed Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed? The final blood test on Henri Paul, driver of the Mercedes in which they all died, shows that he was not only drunk, he was also taking an antidepressant drug. In addition, he may have stopped taking a drug prescribed for alcohol abuse.

French prosecutors said that Henri Paul had traces of two drugs in his blood along with a high alcohol level.

A statement by the prosecutor's office said a blood test to determine the driver's alcohol level revealed he had taken two drugs:

  • Therapeutic levels of fluoxetine were found. This is the generic name for the popular antidepressant  drug Prozac.
  • Subtherapeutic levels of tiapride were found. This is a drug that is used for people with psychiatric disorders or to relieve the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
  • A blood sample taken on September 4, 1997, yielded a level of pure alcohol of 1.75 grams per thousand grams. This is the equivalent of a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.175 in the United States, where the legal limit is often 0.08.
  • The analysis of fluid taken from the eyeball yielded a level of 1.73 grams per thousand.

Blood-Alcohol Content

The above results are from the third blood alcohol test conducted by authorities after Paul's family disputed the first results and got a French judge to order more tests.

 Obviously, this third test confirms the earlier ones: Paul was more than three times over the legal 0.05 limit in France, and would have been deemed intoxicated in every country in the world.

As a point of reference, someone with a BAC of .15 would be 380 times more likely to have an accident than a sober driver.

According to these studies, the likelihood of an accident doubles with every .02 increase in BAC, so Henri Paul was more than 760 times more likely to have an accident than a non-drinking driver.


There is a long list of prescription and over-the-counter drugs which were not supposed to be combined with alcohol due to possible dangerous interactions. Prozac is one of those drugs.

But forgetting about the combination for a moment, let's look at the Prozac alone. Patients taking Prozac should be cautioned against driving an automobile or performing hazardous tasks until they are reasonably certain that treatment with fluoxetine does not affect them adversely.

Combining alcohol with any antidepressant is dangerous. According to Ronald J Diamond, M.D., of the University of Wisconsin Department of Psychiatry and Medical Director, Mental Health Center of Dane County, WI, "all antidepressants potentiate the effect of alcohol, and a few drinks will make a client on these medications more intoxicated than he or she would normally get. Also, alcohol increases the lethality of antidepressants and a normally non-lethal overdose may become lethal if combined with alcohol."

But perhaps even more startling is this warning from Dr. Diamond: "Antidepressant medications can trigger a manic episode in some susceptible people.

In addition, some schizophrenic clients are reported to get more disorganized or more paranoid when taking antidepressants."

We do not know why Henri Paul was taking Prozac, but generally, it is prescribed for depression, panic attacks, and bipolar disorder, the condition formerly known as manic depression. It is also used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Tiapride for Relapse Prevention

Tiapride, which was found in the blood of Princess Diana's driver Henri Paul, is listed in medical literature as a treatment for stuttering in youngsters, Tourette's disorder, and for physical tics. Tiapride is also used to relieve the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Indeed, the drug has been studied as a pharmacological treatment to prevent relapse in recently detoxified alcoholics. His level was subtherapeutic, which could mean he took it at less than the recommended level or he had stopped taking it at some point before the crash.

While conspiracy theories will try to find other reasons for the crash, these test results show that the driver was impaired.

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