The New York Times – January 17, 2008
Antidepressant Studies Unpublished
By BENEDICT CAREY
The makers of antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil never published the results of about a third of the drug trials that they conducted to win government approval, misleading doctors and consumers about the drugs’ true effectiveness, a new analysis has found.
In published trials, about 60 percent of people taking the drugs report significant relief from depression, compared with roughly 40 percent of those on placebo pills. But when the less positive, unpublished trials are included, the advantage shrinks: the drugs outperform placebos, but by a modest margin, concludes the new report, which appears Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Pharmaceutical companies mislead the public about the effectiveness of their prescription antidepressants.
That’s the bottom line of this New York Times story, which reports on an investigation published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week.
Well, not surprising. We knew that the FDA drug approval process, which ideally should represent a gold standard in evaluating the effectiveness and safety of medicines, has been seriously compromised by its dependence on pharmaceutical company-funded research.
And, we think we know why there’s comparatively little public attention given to some very substantial research showing that such dietary supplements as DHEA, SAM-e, St. Johns Wort may be useful for depression. These are supplements, not patentable drugs, so the pharmaceutical companies can’t establish exclusive rights to them and charge enormous sums for their distribution.
If you’d like to take a look at some of the evidence about dietary supplements for depression, look under the “Depression” category of this blog, or refer to the information sheet on depression from the New York Buyers’ Club.