Prozac, used by 40m people, does not work say scientists
Tuesday February 26 2008
Prozac, the bestselling antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and nor do similar drugs in the same class, according to a major review released today.
The study examined all available data on the drugs, including results from clinical trials that the manufacturers chose not to publish at the time. The trials compared the effect on patients taking the drugs with those given a placebo or sugar pill.
When all the data was pulled together, it appeared that patients had improved - but those on placebo improved just as much as those on the drugs.
The only exception is in the most severely depressed patients, according to the authors - Prof Irving Kirsch from the department of psychology at Hull University and colleagues in the US and Canada. But that is probably because the placebo stopped working so well, they say, rather than the drugs having worked better.
"Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients, unless alternative treatments have failed," says Kirsch. "This study raises serious issues that need to be addressed surrounding drug licensing and how drug trial data is reported."
The paper, published today in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science) Medicine, is likely to have a significant impact on the prescribing of the drugs. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) already recommends that counselling should be tried before doctors prescribe antidepressants. Kirsch, who was one of the consultants for the guidelines, says the new analysis "would suggest that the prescription of antidepressant medications might be restricted even more".
The review breaks new ground because Kirsch and his colleagues have obtained for the first time what they believe is a full set of trial data for four antidepressants.
They requested the full data under freedom of information rules from the Food and Drug Administration, which licenses medicines in the US and requires all data when it makes a decision.
More at the Guardian UK
Surprise, surprise the FDA rubber-stamped a drug that failed to pass muster. Surprise, surprise this happened during the waining days of the Regan administration when the foxes were watching the hen house. Millions of scripts filled, billions of dollars made on what was essentially a sugar pill. Yippee, let the law suites begin!