Saturday, December 27, 2003
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Opening Pandora's medicine cabinet

Hidden adverse reactions to antidepressants possible downside to misdiagnosis, misinformed.

Times Staff Writer


The five-year rule

Because not enough research is always known about new antidepressants -- and other new drugs -- hitting the market, people should wait up to five years to take them unless it is clearly a rare breakthrough drug that offers immediate help or effectiveness, according to the Public Citizen Health Research Group, a national nonprofit agency. Otherwise, they are willing guinea pigs, the group stated.

FDA is listening
On Feb. 2, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will host a hearing of the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory committee and the Pediatric Subcommittee of the Anti-Infective Drugs Advisory Committee. In order to testify at that hearing on the adverse effects of antidepressants upon children and teens, people must contact Anuja Patel at (301) 827-6790 or e-mail her at

Study: Media doesn't help inform prescription drug users
The information people get on new prescription drugs from a major source -- daily newspapers -- is incomplete and may promote unrealistic expectations about the benefits of new drugs, according to a study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The report, "Drugs in the News," finds that newspaper articles more often emphasize the benefits of new drugs, while little attention is paid to possible harms. In fact, 68 percent of the news articles examined in more than 20 major newspapers made no mention whatsoever of possible adverse effects, and when identified, these harms were usually downplayed and mentioned towards the end of the article.
The study also found that contra-indications -- those conditions under which it is not safe to take the drugs -- were mentioned in only 4 percent of the articles, and only one in six articles mentioned alternative treatment options, like an existing or cheaper drug.

To report a reaction or call for help

To report adverse reactions of antidepressants to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, contact the FDA's MedWatch reporting system by calling (800) FDA-1088 or visit online at or write to: MedWatch, HF-2, 5600 Fisher's Lane, Rockville, Md., 20852.
The Southlake Center for Mental Health in Merrillville has a 24-hour hot line for people in need. Call (219) 769-4005.


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