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FDA Concedes Antidepressants-Child Suicide Risk: Report

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Federal regulators for the first time have conceded that children who take antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft are at greater risk of suicide, the Washington Post reports.

Although Prozac is the only so-called SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) to be approved for use in children, it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe other medications in this class of drugs to people under age 18. It's done hundreds of thousands of times every year, the newspaper reports.

FDA regulators said Monday during the opening of agency hearings on the matter that results of their analysis were nearly identical to those of a British study, which caused a stir last year when it found a link between suicide risk and use of SSRIs in children.

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Monday's revelation appears to contrast sharply with the views of the psychiatric industry. Just last week, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology announced that SSRIs are both safe and effective for children and teens.

Last fall, following release of the British study results, the FDA recommended that physicians not prescribe Paxil to children under 18. And the maker of another SSRI, Effexor by Wyeth, has suggested that doctors not prescribe the drug to children, the Post says.

While many who spoke at Monday's hearings accused the FDA of turning a blind eye to the problem, others gave moving testimony that their children had been helped by the drugs.

Compounding the matter is that most clinical trials on the medications were performed on adults, and weren't designed to address issues affecting children, the newspaper reports.

The full FDA isn't expected to rule on the matter until the summer.

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Copyright 2004 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.
Last updated 2/3/2004

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