A scientific review of popular anti-depressant drugs has concluded that antidepressants do cause some people to commit suicide, and their effects are no better than a placebo.
The Australian research showed that Aropax and Paxil (also known as Paroxetine) had exaggerated their claims over the effectiveness of the drug, and downplayed the deadly side-effects in their marketing.
ABC News reports:
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Clinicians prescribed billions of the pills during the 1980s and ’90s, when it was widely regarded as highly effective at treating depression without many of the debilitating side-effects of earlier medications.
But a few decades on, a review of data used to support paroxetine has found that confidence in the drug was misplaced and dangerously overstated.
“We felt that bad prescribing decisions were being made on the basis of the way in which the study was reported,” said Professor Jon Jureidini, who led the international team of researchers from Adelaide University’s Critical and Ethical Mental Health Research Group.
“The study claimed to show that paroxetine, an anti-depressant, was effective and safe for young people and in fact, it’s the opposite.”
The team have established that the drug carried twice the level of severe adverse effects across the board, and four times the number of psychiatric adverse events.
“Eleven patients experienced suicidal behaviour or self-harm out of less than 100 in the paroxetine group compared to just one in the placebo group,” he said.
Professor Jureidini emphasised his review should not cause people currently prescribed paroxetine to stop taking their medication unless directed to do so by their doctor.
But he said doctors should approach use of the drug more sceptically.
“It is not a cause for panic but it is a cause for taking greater care in prescribing,” he said.