Thursday, April 05, 2007

Doctors Ignore Black Box Warnings On SSRIs

However, the FDA is now trying to claim that the increased risk only occurs until people reach the age of 25, a claim that critics are saying is just plain silly. The theory is contrary to a study reported on May 1, 2006, by the London Free Press from Toronto's Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, which showed seniors 66 and up who were prescribed SSRIs were nearly 5 times more likely to commit suicide during the first month on the drugs than those patients given the older class of drugs used to treat depression.

Records researcher, Vince Boehm, who tracks all studies on SSRIs, says, "It makes no difference how old a person is, the danger is still there."

"I'll concede that maturity and life's experiences offer an arguably slim buffer of safety," he notes, "but this is an extremely fragile safety net." Mr Boehm says nothing magical happens at 25. "We've made a numbers game out of this," he warns, "a macabre form of Russian Roulette."

A leading expert on SSRIs, psychiatrist, Dr David Healy, author of, The Creation of Psychopharmacology, agrees and says, "The idea that you would have a risk in one age group but not in another is just wrong."

Dr Healy testified at the hearing about the manipulation of data from clinical trials. The industry controls the studies, and with the help of the FDA, he told the audience, drug makers have miscoded the data so that the articles in the medical journals that represent clinical trial data on the drugs are misleading.

Another SSRI expert, psychiatrist, Dr Peter Breggin, author of, "The Antidepressant Fact Book," also testified and said, "America's drug watchdog needs to come clean because it's been approving depressants as antidepressants."

"The primary data on suicidality," he said, "has been generated in short-term controlled clinical trials planned by drug companies, carried out by drug company hacks, and evaluated by drug company employees at corporate headquarters."

"If that kind of carefully cultivated evaluation bears such bad fruit," Dr Breggin noted, "imagine what the real data must show."

Many grieving family members testified and described the same kind of horror stories that the FDA has been hearing since the first hearing on the dangers of SSRIs back in 1991.

Gwen Olsen, a former drug company sales representative, gave the panel a first-hand account of how easy it was to influence prescribing doctors by offering them free meals, gifts, and gimmicks to gain access and present them with manipulated data.

Ms Olsen now lives with the fact that her 20-year-old niece committed suicide while going through withdrawal from Paxil, first by trying to hang herself from a ceiling fan and when the fan broke, she doused herself with gasoline and set herself on fire.

Beverly Hatcher described her mother as having no history of depression but yet killed herself after 16 days on Paxil. Tony Noll, whose father also committed suicide, told the panel, "I came to speak to you on behalf of the statistically insignificant."

Rosemary Dorsett testified that her son was screened for depression during a physical, and was given Prozac by a GP, after which he became an insomniac, lost weight, heard voices, and shot himself in the chest. She emphasized that her son loved life and the suicide was totally out of character.

Mary Ellen Whitter also told the panel that her teenage daughter loved life and was happy until shortly after graduation when she was prescribed Paxil for sleep problems and anxiety, and hung herself 7 days later.

In total disregard of the drugs' new warnings, doctors continue to prescribe SSRIs to children all over the US. A study in the August 2006, Archives of General Psychiatry, found that children, aged 6 to 18, who took antidepressants for depression in an inpatient setting were 52% more likely to attempt suicide in the 60 days following discharge from the facility, than children who were not taking the drugs.

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