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Should we prescribe antidepressants to children?

  • Bernadka Dubicka (a1) and Ian Goodyer (a2)
Extract

In June last year, the committee on safety of medicines (CSM) advised against the use of paroxetine in depressed children and adolescents. This was subsequently followed by a similar warning regarding the use of other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), with the exception of fluoxetine (http://www.mhra.gov.uk/). The basis of this decision was a detailed review of both the published and the unpublished data. The latter were obtained from pharmaceutical companies who had not reported negative results from clinical trials to the medical community. The addition of the pharmaceutical industry data to published results exerted dramatic effects on the efficacy of available compounds. Thus with the exception of fluoxetine, the risks outweigh the benefits of the SSRIs in the treatment of childhood depression. In particular, there is evidence of a non-significant trend towards increased suicidality with most SSRIs compared with placebo. These findings have been supported by a further recent meta-analysis of the available published and unpublished data (Whittington et al, 2004). A review of the safety and efficacy of antidepressants in children and adolescents by Jureidini et al (2004) has also criticised the quality of reporting of the published trials. The review concluded that the benefits of SSRIs have been exaggerated, including those of fluoxetine, and the adverse effects have been downplayed. The authors suggest that psychological treatments are probably safer and more effective.

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Copyright
This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
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Should we prescribe antidepressants to children?

  • Bernadka Dubicka (a1) and Ian Goodyer (a2)
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