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Thu, May 6, 2004

Anti-depressants are health hazards: doc
Suicide more likely

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 effective."


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 depression."

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 information.

Healy also criticized the increasingly popular use of colourful magazine advertisements to sell pharmaceuticals.

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