|Selected news articles which highlight important policy issues.||
News: Weekly Archives
News for the week of 05-02-2004
According to this article, widespread use of anti-depressants in young people since the 1990s has also coincided with a significant decline in adolescent suicide rates. Nonetheless, some studies also show that some drugs in the class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may increase suicidal tendencies compared to placebos - although the data is, everyone seems to admit, ambiguous (and no actual suicides have been found in the data as of yet). One researcher at the FDA's drug safety unit thought that the evidence was strong enough that a warning ought to be issued to physicians regarding adolescent anti-depressant use; his superiors thought that the data didn't warrant this conclusion until they had conducted a more thorough review of the evidence, and that issuing a warning at this time would be alarmist. While the media was quick to jump on this internal dispute as an agency cover-up on behalf of powerful drug manufacturers, the real dispute revolves around complex methodological and statistical issues. In reality, the FDA should be praised for its cautious treatment of an emotionally charged topic. Although the FDA has an obligation to prevent public injury, it must also balance potential side effects against the benefits of the medications in question. A FDA misstep here could very well lead to a rash of damaging lawsuits against anti-depressant drug manufacturers, leading to a decline in the research, development, and marketing of these very useful medicines. And for the thousands of patients who do benefit from these drugs that would be a real tragedy.
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