May 6, 2004
Anti-depressants are health hazards:
Suicide more likely
By TAMMY MARLOWE, STAFF REPORTER
A renowned British psychiatrist says he's not hostile toward
companies that produce anti-depressant drugs. He just wants the
public to know the industry hasn't been telling them the whole story
about how dangerous some of the pills actually are. "This is not
hostile to industry," said Dr. David Healy. "The raw data ... says
these drugs are not regulated, not well-tolerated and not
Yesterday, Healy spoke to professionals at Health Sciences Centre
and St. Boniface Hospital about some of his findings regarding
anti-psychotic medications like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.
Healy is a visiting professor of medicine at the University of
Toronto and a reader in psychological medicine at the University of
Wales College of Medicine.
He's authored 120 peer-reviewed articles and more than a dozen
books, including The Antidepressant Era, The Creation of
Psychopharmacology and Let Them Eat Prozac -- a critical look at the
"unhealthy relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and
Healy highlighted results of clinical trials involving
medications used to treat depression and schizophrenia that revealed
patients on medication were six times more likely to commit suicide
or suicidal acts than patients given a placebo.
He also showed data suggesting patients treated 100 years ago
were not killing themselves at the same rate as those today.
Healy said the problem is that damaging data is not always shared
with psychiatrists hired to complete scientific studies on the drugs
-- so they come to falsely positive conclusions based on incomplete
Healy also criticized the increasingly popular use of colourful
magazine advertisements to sell pharmaceuticals.
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