June 2, 2004
Surprise! Drug companies knew anti-depressants are bad for kids+
To continue the thread on the growing international awareness of the dangers of prescribing anti-depressants to young people: our local hero Eliot Spitzer has filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline, claiming the drug company withheld information about the negative effects of Paxil on children. As British drug regulatory bodies stated months ago, anti-depressants do not show conclusive positive effects on young people, and they can increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some. The lawsuit says that Glaxo suppressed four studies that demonstrate these results, and also includes an internal memo circulated within the company that says they intended to "manage the dissemination of data in order to minimize any potential negative commercial impact." That negative impact might have reduced the $55 million in revenues that Glaxo made in 2002 from prescriptions of Paxil to children and teens.
Glaxo claims that they made all of their studies available to the FDA. Which leads to the question: if U.S. companies got results like this in their drug tests, why didn't the FDA take action similar to the UK's regulatory agencies and ban the prescription of anti-depressants (besides Prozac) for young people? The article contains this seemingly contradictory sentence: "Paxil is not approved for use in children, but doctors can prescribe drugs as they see fit and routinely recommend antidepressants for children suffering from depression and other psychological disorders." The FDA's website answers some questions about Paxil and children; they say that the FDA has "not approved" the use of Paxil for depressed children, but that physicians can prescribe whatever they want for whomever they want. Way to throw your weight around, FDA. - Amy
One doctor not involved in the study echoes the concerns of many bad parents, noting that the findings are a relief "because it's hard to get people into cognitive therapy anymore. They just don't want to take the time.'' - Emily