Since Panorama: The Secrets of Seroxat was broadcast in
October 2002, the topic of safety in certain SSRI anti-depressants
has frequently been in the news.
Below is a timeline of significant news coverage of Seroxat and
6 September, 2004: GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is facing a US
lawsuit alleging that it covered up negative research findings on
its anti-depressant drug Paxil.
The lawsuits were filed on behalf of children and teenagers who
were prescribed Paxil, known as Seroxat in the UK and Europe.
27 August, 2004: GlaxoSmithKline has agreed to publish
results of clinical tests on its drugs, to settle a US lawsuit.
18 June, 2004: GlaxoSmithKline has announced plans to
publish clinical trial results for some of its medicines on the
2 June, 2004: UK drugs group Glaxosmithkline (GSK) has
been sued in the US for allegedly lying about the effectiveness and
safety of its antidepressant Paxil.
13 March, 2004: The head of mental health charity Mind has
resigned from a review of anti-depressants accusing a government
drugs watchdog of negligence.
Richard Brook acted after GPs were advised to limit doses of the
anti-depressant Seroxat. He claims the Medicines and Healthcare
products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) knew about the concerns for 10
years and he was pressured not to reveal them.
11 March, 2004: Experts have warned doctors not to start
patients on high doses of the antidepressant Seroxat. The Committee
on Safety of Medicines says patients should initially be given a
dose of 20mg a day.
3 February, 2004: Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline knew that
the anti-depressant Seroxat could not be proved to work on children
in 1998, according to a leaked internal document.
The secret document, relating to two clinical trials held in the
1990s, reveals that drug trials had shown little or no effect on
helping depression in minors.
The company was also advised to avoid publishing the full data
because it would be "commercially unacceptable" and would "undermine
the profile" of the drug.
The confidential paper, sent anonymously to BBC's Panorama
programme, reveals that the company were advised to publish only the
positive aspects of one study and that there were no plans to
publish a second - more negative - study.
20 November, 2003: A system designed to highlight
dangerous side-effects of medicines is not working, claim
researchers. Doctors, and other health professionals are supposed to
notify watchdogs if a patient reports an "adverse effect". However,
a researcher from the University of Oxford says that this
information is wasted because they are not analysed properly.
10 June, 2003: Young people under the age of 18 should not
be prescribed the controversial drug Seroxat, government advisors
have ruled. It follows a review which found children taking the
anti-depressant may be more likely to self-harm or partake in
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
has also warned that adults who are on the drug should not suddenly
stop taking it.
9 June, 2003: Experts are set to update the safety advice
provided with the controversial antidepressant Seroxat. The drug has
been at the centre of a storm amid claims that it is addictive and
could increase the risk of violent behaviour in some patients. It's
maker, GlaxoSmithKline, insists that it is a safe drug - prescribed
to thousands of patients in the UK.
27 May 2003: The government is launching a major inquiry
into the safety of some of the most prescribed anti-depressants,
including Seroxat. An expert group of the Committee on Safety of
Medicines is to be set up to look at the problems some patients have
reported while taking selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors
(SSRIs), which include Seroxat and Prozac.
And for the first time ever, the inquiry will take first hand
reports from people who claim to have problems and investigate
reports of suicidal behaviour.
11 May 2003: The makers of the popular anti-depressant
Seroxat have denied claims that their product is addictive and
causes suicidal feelings. Speaking on BBC One's Panorama programme,
Dr Alastair Benbow, head of European clinical psychiatry at
GlaxoSmithKline, admitted that people could have misunderstood the
information on patient leaflets which said the drug was not
11 May 2003: The drug company which makes the anti-depressant
Seroxat is to drop the wording that it is "not addictive" on its
patient leaflets. The move by the drugs giant follows complaints
from viewers of BBC One's Panorama programme, who complain of severe
withdrawal symptoms and say they have been unable to stop taking the
11 May 2003: Panorama sent hundreds of people a detailed
questionnaire about their experiences on Seroxat and received 293
replies. These in depth replies were then sent to Charles Medawar of
the group Social Audit, and his co-author Dr Andrew Herxheimer who
wrote an analytical report into the value of the e-mails.
This report has been published in the International Journal of
Risk and Safety in Medicine. It concluded that "their collective
weight was profound" and that the value of a large amount of data
coming in at once may be greater than continuing to examine a slow
trickle of reports.
11 March, 2003: A coroner is calling for an inquiry into
the widely-prescribed anti-depressant drug Seroxat. Powys coroner
Geraint Williams has written to the UK Health Secretary to ask for
an urgent inquiry and for the drug to be withdrawn from use.
It follows the death of a man from Brecon who killed himself two
weeks after being prescribed the drug for anxiety - the coroner
recorded an open verdict on Tuesday.
8 January, 2003: Experts are looking at the safety of
widely used antidepressants including Prozac and Seroxat. The review
will look at a range of options, including whether the drugs should
be banned. The government review began after members of the public
and doctors raised concerns that the drugs can be addictive,
contrary to manufacturers' claims - and increase the risk of suicide
in some patients.
13 October 2002: One of the most widely used
anti-depressants in the world can be addictive, it has been claimed.
The claims - to be made on Panorama - come as the makers of Seroxat
are attempting to have their drug licensed for use by children in
13 October 2002: The Head of European Clinical Psychiatry
at the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline has denied that the
drug Seroxat can lead to addiction. In an interview with Panorama,
to be shown on Sunday night, Dr Alastair Benbow said the drug was
well tolerated and had been used all over the world for a decade. Dr
Benbow also added: "As with all prescriptions medicines, Seroxat
does have side effects, but these are clearly stated in the
information that's made available to doctors and to patients."