Under-18s should not be given the anti-depressant
Seroxat as the risk of suicidal thoughts and self harm is up to
three times higher among those on the drug, experts said.
The controversial drug is not licensed in the UK
for children and teenagers but some doctors give the drug to treat
depression based on their own judgement.
In the last year alone, 40,000 Seroxat
prescriptions were written for under-18s - 7,000-8,000 children and
adolescents were given the drug for depression.
But today the Medicines and Healthcare products
Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said new data from manufacturers
GlaxoSmithKline had now come to light which showed the drug was not
effective at treating depression in this age group.
In addition, the nine studies - based on more
than 1,000 children - had shown that the risk of suicidal thoughts
and self harm was two to three times greater among those on Seroxat
compared to those on a placebo drug.
The MHRA said it was important no one stopped
taking the drug suddenly.
Patients who did so might see symptoms of their
depression return and could suffer withdrawal symptoms, including an
increased risk of suicide.
Teenagers and children on Seroxat were advised
instead to consult their doctor.
The MHRA said the new data applied only to
adolescents and children but its expert group would now consider if
it had any implication for adults on Seroxat.