NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Antidepressant Use for Youths Questioned

December 11, 2003

British drug regulators yesterday recommended against the use of all but one of a new generation of antidepressants in the treatment of depressed children under 18.

In a letter sent to doctors and other health professionals, the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said a review of data on the safety and effectiveness of the drugs known as S.S.R.I.s indicated that their benefits did not outweigh their potential risks.

According to the agency:

  • The effectiveness of the drugs in treating depression in children has not been sufficiently demonstrated
  • Some drugs have been linked with suicidal thoughts and self-harm in children and adolescents.

The agency, the equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, said it was issuing a strong signal to doctors but was not barring the drugs completely because there were cases when their use might still be warranted.

The agency exempted Prozac, from Eli Lilly, but recommended against the use of six drugs: Paxil, from GlaxoSmithKline; Zoloft, from Pfizer; Effexor, from Wyeth; Celexa and Lexapro, from Forest Laboratories Inc., and Luvox, from Solvay.

Source: Erica Goode, "British Warning on Antidepressant Use for Youth," New York Times, December 11, 2003.  


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