For pregnant women considering whether to continue taking antidepressant drugs, a study in a February 2006 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA, contained a sobering warning: Stopping the medication greatly increases the risk of relapsing into depression.
The study authors — most of them leading psychiatrists at Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of California Los Angeles and Emory University — said their results challenged a common assumption that hormonal changes during pregnancy protected expectant mothers against depression. In their article, they predicted the findings would prompt some women to stay on their depression medication through pregnancy. That was good news for the makers of big-selling antidepressants, who have recently faced growing questions about the safety of their medications when used during pregnancy.
But the study, and resulting television and newspaper reports of the research, failed to note that most of the 13 authors are paid as consultants or lecturers by the makers of antidepressants. The lead author — Lee S. Cohen, a Harvard Medical School professor and director of the perinatal and reproductive psychiatry research program at Massachusetts General Hospital — is a longtime consultant to three antidepressant makers, a paid speaker for seven of them and has his research work funded by four drug makers. None of his financial ties were reported in the study. In total, the authors failed to disclose more than 60 different financial relationships with drug companies.
You can read the full article by by David Armstrong of The Wall Street Journal here.