Edition 2 - Extended MetroTHU 17 JUN 2004, Page
this drug encourage youth suicide? The minister says ...Evidence of
risk is clear
By Anna Patty, Health Reporter
Federal Government yesterday said there was ``credible'' scientific
evidence that a drug available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
(PBS) could drive children to suicide.
Health Minister Tony
Abbott said he was concerned about a series of scientific studies on
the adverse effects of anti-depressant drug Aropax.
published by pharmaceutical giant Glaxo-
children under 18 taking the drug were at increased risk of feeling
suicidal, hostile and depressed, as reported exclusively in
yesterday's The Daily Telegraph.
``There are credible reports
these antidepressant drugs can cause significant side effects in
children,'' Mr Abbott said.
``I have asked the Pharmaceutical
Benefits Advisory Committee whether these drugs should stay on the
Aropax has been banned in
Britain and the US has advised against its use.
doctors gave out more than 23,000 prescriptions for Aropax to
children last year and are divided on its risks.
councillor and child psychiatrist Dr Choong-Siew Yong yesterday said
the adverse effects associated with Aropax were rare and there had
been an ``over-reaction in other countries''.
``In Australia we
have taken a more measured approach to educate doctors,'' he
``There are a lot of children who have got better from Aropax. I
think it would be a mistake to ban it outright.''
Goods Administration (TGA) spokeswoman yesterday said an inquiry by
the US Food and Drug Administration would help determine whether the
drug was banned in Australia.
The TGA cannot stop doctors from
prescribing the drug to children, even though it is only registered
for use by adults.
``The TGA has never registered Aropax for
use by children,'' the TGA spokeswoman said.
``The TGA has made
it clear these drugs are not suitable for children and
``If doctors still prescribe them to children, they
should do it in conjunction with a closely monitored care
``The most the TGA can do at the moment is strengthen its
warnings. It is monitoring the FDA's inquiries and on the basis of
those findings we will decide whether to go further.''
findings on Aropax and other drugs in its
class are expected within two months.
Alicia deals with
FOR Alicia Quartermain, Aropax did more harm than
A year ago, the then-18-year-old slammed her mother against
a wall and cut her own arms.
It was six months after she stopped
using it before the Northern Beaches resident felt better.
Quartermain wants to warn others of side effects.
``I was on it
for about 2 1/2 months, [along with Serapax and Hepnogram],'' she
``I was suicidal. I even slammed my mother against the
wall, totally out of character for me.''
But Rebecca, 25, of
Melbourne, took Aropax when she was 18 and
called it her saviour: ``It was quite positive on my mental
The Daily Telegraph article
Lows ... Alicia Quartermain
yesterday. Picture: JUSTIN
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