Why Are Antidepressant Sales Climbing?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration waffled for months, but was finally forced in March to ask the manufacturers of 10 antidepressants to warn doctors and patients that both adults and children taking the drugs should be closely monitored for worsening depression and thoughts of suicide. The bad news opened a Pandora's box of sorts, and in recent months medical journals, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal have carried a steady stream of horrifying disclosures:

  • That clinical drug trials resulting in negative findings are routinely ignored
  • That the existence of these "file-drawer studies" is well-known among researchers, psychiatrists, and FDA policymakers
  • That the bulk of the studies concerning children show no benefit whatsoever from antidepressants
  • That studies involving adults aren't much more convincing
  • Most shocking of all, FDA honchos even conceded that for some time they opposed adding warning labels to antidepressants because they feared it would expose the pharmaceutical industry to liability.

So far none of this seems to have had much effect on the sales of antidepressants in this country. According to a study published in the April issue of Psychiatric Services, use of these drugs by children and adolescents is growing by 10 percent a year; the fastest-growing user group is preschoolers. In 2003, sales of central nervous system drugs totaled $37 billion, $9 billion more than the combined total for all drugs that treat the heart, arteries, and blood pressure, according to the New York Times.

It is time for the profession to realize that we have far more effective options for the serious problem of depression. Fish oil and energy psychology tools really work and excluding them from anyone's treatment program should be grounds for medical negligence.

City Pages.com May 26, 2004

Click Here and be the first to comment on this article
Post your comment