Well, maybe some of the truth…
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the antidepressant drugs paroxetine (Seroxat) and imipramine do not help patients with mild, moderate and even severe depression much more than an inactive placebo.
“They would have done just as well or just about as well with a placebo,” concluded Robert DeRubeis, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia who performed the meta-analysis along with colleagues.
The meta-analysis combined data from six studies with over 800 combined patients. Those with initial depression scores of 23 or below dropped an averaged 8 points when given antidepressants compared to a drop of 7 points for those given a placebo. According to DeRubeis, the study should give pause to doctors and patients weighing antidepressants, and he suggested that consideration be given to other alternatives such as exercise, psychotherapy, and even “self-treatment”.
Paroxetine is one of a widely sold class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and is better known as the brand name sold by GlaxoSmithKline: Paxil. Imipramine is an older tricyclic antidepressant drug which was developed in the 1950s.
Glaxo spokeswoman Sarah Alspach responded by saying that the study “contributes to the extensive research” into antidepressants, noting that Paxil received U.S. government approval in 1992. She continued to maintain that Paxil has helped “millions of people battling mental illness”.
The study is the latest in a long string of bad news that has been reported about Paxil. Since Paxil`s introduction on the market in 1993, the potentially dangerous drug has been plagued with complaints of serious adverse medical events including an increase in suicide rates and attempts, addiction, and birth defects.
In 2005, after Glaxo had denied repeated reports of Paxil causing addiction and severe withdrawal effects, a federal judge ordered the maker to stop all television commercials nationwide that say the drug is not habit-forming. The ruling came after a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 35. According to the judge`s ruling, the commercials were “misleading and created inaccurate expectations about the ease of withdrawal from the drug”. It is reported that Glaxo has settled nearly 3,200 cases involving addiction-related complaints and complications.
Glaxo has also reportedly settled 150 Paxil-related suicide cases and 300 Paxil-related suicide attempts thus far. In most instances, Glaxo attempted to blame the suicides on the underlying depression and not the drug itself. Paxil has also been linked to severe birth-defects in children whose mothers took the antidepressant while pregnant. Last October, a Philadelphia jury found that Glaxo negligently failed to warn doctors of Paxil`s risk to pregnant women and awarded $2.5 million to the parents of a three year old boy. According to reports, this case was the first of some 600 lawsuits against Glaxo for failing to warn of Paxil`s dangers to pregnant women. Reports also indicate that Glaxo has settled at least 10 other birth-defect cases to date.
Paxil lawsuits and settlements have been estimated to cost Glaxo a staggering $1 Billion in settlements thus far, an amount that is nevertheless dwarfed by the many billions of dollars in profits Glaxo has received from Paxil sales.
Meanwhile, despite all the deaths, injuries and lawsuits, Paxil continues to have FDA approval, continues to downplay harmful side effects and continues to be highly promoted, the same as happened in the Vioxx scandal and with other harmful drugs. The Associated Press reported in August of last year that GlaxoSmithKline commissioned sales reps to recruit doctor-authors for ghostwritten articles supporting Paxil use. Glaxo even named the program after everyone`s favorite friendly ghost and called it the “CASPPER” program..