Panorama and Seroxat

As we wait for the next installment in the Panorama/Seroxat series (on Monday 29 January at 20.30 on BBC One in the UK and on the internet here), I though it might be worth going back a few years to a Panorama broadcast on 13 October 2002 – “The Secrets of Seroxat.”

The next Panorama programme is dealing with drug trials of Seroxat in children. The exchange below is from the original programme and is between the Panorama reporter Shelley Jofre and Alastair Benbow from Glaxo:

SHELLEY JOFRE: ...It was the biggest ever trial of Seroxat in children [co-written by American child psychiatrist Neal Ryan] funded by Glaxo SmithKline. The depressed children who took Seroxat did better than those who took an older drug, or were just given sugar pills. That’s the good news. The bad news is that ten of the ninety-three children on Seroxat suffered serious psychiatric problems within weeks of going on the drug. Most of them had to be hospitalised.

There were five children out of ninety-three children on Seroxat who had suicidal thoughts and gestures. Another five out of that ninety-three had serious psychiatric side effects. Don’t you think parents would be worried about that if their child was to be given this drug?

Dr ALASTAIR BENBOW Head of European Clinical Psychiatry GlaxoSmithKline
I think what parents would be more worried about is the risk that their children have of committing suicide and other symptoms of severe depression if no treatment was available. I think parents would want treatments to be properly evaluated during clinical trials before their children are given any medicine.

JOFRE: But the evidence here suggest that their children might be at more risk of suicide if they go on Seroxat.

BENBOW: No, the evidence is not there, there is no statistical difference between the groups. The reality of the situation is that in this trial, Seroxat was generally well tolerated by this difficult to treat population.

Remember what was said above, from 2002.

I’ll be interested to see how it stacks up against the new evdence that Panorama will be broadcasting next week…


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