January 27, 2004
By Vera Sharav, President, AHRP
January 27, 2004 & Update January, 31 2004
January 27, 2004
Contact: Vera Sharav
Contact: Lisa Van Syckel
When: February 2, 2004, 11:45 A.M. - 13:45 P.M.
Where: Holiday Inn, Bethesda, site of FDA’s Advisory Committee Hearing
Re: Antidepressants and reports of suicidal risks for children
Specifically AHRP Press Briefing in the Potomac Room, 1st Mezzanine
The British drug authority has banned the use of most SSRI antidepressant drugs for the treatment of depression in children under 18, citing a two-to-threefold increased risk of suicidal behavior and lack of evidence of a benefit for depressed children. Two SSRIs - Paxil and Effexor - are no longer recommended by their manufacturer for use in children. Prozac is no longer recommended by Eli Lilly for children in the U.K.
In contrast to the British medicines authority review of the evidence, the FDA has refused to allow independent scientists to present documented evidence related to these drugs' hazards and their failure to demonstrate a benefit for depressed children. In a recent background memorandum for the February 2 advisory committee meeting, the FDA cites only published references favorable to the SSRIs, with the exception of one - the very first article to raise concerns about an SSRI drug-induced suicide risk, published in 1990. Furthermore, the FDA has enlisted the help of scientists and institutions with major financial ties to the companies whose drugs are under scrutiny.
The Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP) believes that the integrity of science and scientific discourse depends upon a fair and open examination of all of the evidence so that it can be independently verified. To facilitate an open and fair discourse, AHRP is sponsoring a press briefing by prominent, independent, scientific experts who are concerned about the effectiveness and safety of these widely used drugs in children.
Among the distinguished scientists who will present their original documented analyses and/or summaries of scientific evidence from a variety of sources - including never disclosed clinical trial data:
Thomas J. Moore has just completed two studies about the safety of antidepressant drugs in children. The first study reveals that antidepressant use in children doubled in just four years, and identifies new safety concerns. The second study shows suicidal/aggressive behaviors occurred more frequently than expected among children taking any of the leading antidepressant drugs.
All of these presentations will be posted on the AHRP website on Monday, Feb. 2, 2004.
AHRP believes the scientific validity of FDA's limited review and reliance on psychiatrists with financial conflicts of interest, is suspect and may be calculated to minimize the scope of the problem.
Following the scientists' presentations, Lisa Van Syckel, whose daughter attempted suicide after being prescribed an SSRI, will be leading a panel of families whose children suffered life-threatening drug effects. A father will testify that he lost his 13-year old son after he was prescribed an SSRI because he had trouble adjusting to a new school. The boy, with no history of depression, hanged himself 7 days after taking the drug. A teenager who was prescribed an SSRI for migraine headaches describes the drug's harrowing effects that led her to attempt suicide. Adult survivors of drug-induced suicide attempts when they were teenagers will speak as well.