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|NUMBER 217||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||FEBRUARY 2004|
Cautions Mount Against |
Anti-Depressants for Youth
Cautions Mount Against Anti-Depressants for Youth
British drug regulators in early December recommended against use of most of
the new generation of antidepressants for children under 18 years old, because of
possible links to suicidal behavior. The advisory applies to Paxil, Zoloft,
Effexor, Celexa, Lexapro and Luvox. Prozac was exempted. (nytimes.com, 12-11-03)
The action followed on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations October 27 advisory urging doctors to proceed with caution when prescribing any of eight antidepressants including Prozac and Paxil pending the agencys receipt of additional information on the suicide risk. (See Education Reporter, Dec. 2003.)
Moreover, the scientist who led the latest trial of Zoloft and concluded it was safe for children has now conceded that the drugs potential to cause suicidal thinking needs to be investigated.
Karen Wagner of the University of Texas psychiatry department was the lead author of an article in the September Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concerning two trials of Zoloft. She also conducted studies of Paxil, which was banned for use on children in June 2003 by the United Kingdom licensing body. She concluded that both drugs were effective and well-tolerated.
Nevertheless, the UK medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency said a re-analysis of the data on the Paxil trials showed an increase in the numbers of children who became suicidal on the drug. The study of Zoloft found that 9% of the children taking the drug became suicidal. One, a 13-year-old boy, killed himself, and his family is suing Zolofts manufacturer, Pfizer.
While defending the drugs effectiveness, Dr. Wagner, when asked whether she still believed both drugs are safe, told The Guardian, "I think it requires further investigation and looking at the entire database of these medications." (society.guardian.co.uk, 10-1-03)