Critics of the drugs said they were deeply distrustful of both the medical profession and FDA itself because of conflicts of interest with the pharmaceutical industry. Allen Jones, of the consumer advocacy group Alliance for Human Research Protection, said, "the love affair between the pharmaceutical industry and our government institutions has to end."
Gwen Olsen, a former pharmaceutical industry representative, told the panel she had influenced doctors by offering them free food, gifts and gimmicks to get access and then presented them with skillfully manipulated data. Olsen said she had a change of heart after her 20- year-old niece committed suicide following a withdrawal reaction from the antidepressant Paxil. She said her niece first tried to hang herself from a ceiling fan. When the fan broke, Olsen said, she doused herself in oil and set herself alight.
Two experts critical of the drugs, British psychiatrist David Healy and Joseph Glenmullen, a psychiatrist who lectures at Harvard University, said the FDA analysis played down the magnitude of the suicide risk. Information uncovered in lawsuits, they said, suggested that several suicides in industry trials were never disclosed.
"Industry controls the data, and industry with the aid of FDA have miscoded the data so all the articles in all the journals that purport to represent clinical trial data are misleading," Healy said in an interview. His own analysis, published in the British Medical Journal in 2005, found a two-fold increase in risk among all adults taking the drugs.
"The idea you would have a risk in one age group but not another is just wrong," Healy said.