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Mental Health Channel
Reported April 23, 2004

Child Antidepressant Research Misleading

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- A new systematic review of published and unpublished studies show only Prozac was not linked to negative outcomes for children with depression. Researchers conclude using published studies alone to guide the treatment of childhood depression could be inappropriate and the pharmaceutical industry may be responsible.

A class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors has previously been considered to offer the best treatment option for childhood depression. In the new analysis, all SSRIs appeared to have a favorable risk-benefit ratio when researchers examined the published studies alone. When researchers included unpublished studies in their analysis, the risk of SSRI treatment exceeded the benefits. For example, the effects of paroxetine, also known as Paxil, showed it to be associated with an increased risk in suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide.

Authors of the study say pharmaceutical companies play a large role in manipulating childhood depression treatment research and withholding critical information.

Study co-author Tim Kendall, from the National Collaborating Center for Mental Health in London, says, “Drug sponsors who withhold trial data (or do not make full trial reports available) undermine the guideline [program], which can ultimately lead to recommendations for treatments that are ineffective, cause harm, or both. Others have suggested that the pharmaceutical industry needs greater regulation, and in particular that all trial data -- whether published or unpublished -- should be fully accessible.”

In an accompanying editorial in The Lancet, the authors write, “The study of research into SSRI use in childhood depression is one of confusion, manipulation and institutional failure. Although published evidence was inconsistent at best, use of SSRIs to treat childhood depression has been encouraged by pharmaceutical companies and clinicians worldwide.”

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SOURCE: The Lancet, 2004;363:1341-1345, 1335

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