From the 9/17/15 New York Times:
Fourteen years ago, a leading drug maker published a study showing that the antidepressant Paxil was safe and effective for teenagers. On Wednesday, a major medical journal posted a new analysis of the same data concluding that the opposite is true.
This is the shit that that makes me wild. Back in 2001, a study was released that Paxil was safe for teenagers and young adults. Now a study comes out saying that it’s not safe. Let’s think about this for a moment.
It’s 2002, and your 15 year old daughter’s behavior has been a big concern for several months. She doesn’t talk much and she responds to questions with one or two words. She rarely makes eye contact, eats sparingly and isolates in her room. She sleeps over 10 hours per day. Her friends have changed and her grades are not what they used to be. You’ve talked to your friends and parents about it and taken her to a number of different therapists. Nothing seems to work, and you are getting terribly worried about your daughter and feeling like a failure as a parent. You think about your daughter at work, and it saps your production and energy. You and your spouse sometimes argue about what to do (and whose genes are responsible for it). You feel desperate. You hear about a new drug called Paxil, but you are nervous about its effects. You see this ad on TV. A doctor tells you that a recent study says that it is safe and often effective for treating teenage depression. The choice between a depressed, isolating daughter whom you don’t recognize and a chance to see your sweet girl’s pleasant disposition return, you convince your daughter to take Paxil, because you trust the government and your doctor.
And now we learn that they were wrong. What kind of damage did Paxil do to your daughter in the meantime?
The drug companies don’t always have the consumers best interests in mind (I’m being diplomatic here). This article from MotherJones entited “Disorders Made to Order” is harrowing in how it breaks down how Big Pharma creates a market in order to push their chemicals on a trusting public:
GlaxoSmithKline’s modus operandi-marketing a disease rather than selling a drug is typical of the post-Prozac era. “The strategy [companies] use – it’s almost mechanized by now,” says Dr. Loren Mosher, a San Diego psychiatrist and former official at the National Institute of Mental Health. Typically, a corporate-sponsored “disease awareness” campaign focuses on a mild psychiatric condition with a large pool of potential sufferers. Companies fund studies that prove the drug’s efficacy in treating the affliction, a necessary step in obtaining FDA approval for a new use, or “indication.” Prominent doctors are enlisted to publicly affirm the malady’s ubiquity. Public-relations firms launch campaigns to promote the new disease, using dramatic statistics from corporate-sponsored studies. Finally, patient groups are recruited to serve as the “public face” for the condition, supplying quotes and compelling human stories for the media; many of the groups are heavily subsidized by drugmakers, and some operate directly out of the offices of drug companies’ P.R. firms.
The FDA and the federal government seem to be constantly fighting rearguard battles. In August of 2002, a federal judge ordered GlaxoKlineSmith (the makers of Paxil) to stop running ads that say it isn’t habit forming. This USA Today article states that 35 patients experienced severe withdrawals when they stopped taking Paxil. It’s very hard to know who and what to trust.