The Star Phoenix
By Mark Lemstra
July 29, 2010
We could save $2 billion a year on health-care costs in Saskatchewan while improving health outcomes if we adopt evidence-based protocols.
To do so, we need to find about $40 million of efficiency in each of about 50 areas.
This is the third article in a five-part series on depression. My first column discussed the limitations in diagnosing depression. The second presented literature reviews that concluded antidepressants are no more effective than placebos in treating depression.
This column explains how the drug companies deceive us. Let’s start with some general information and proceed to specific examples for antidepressants.
In 2008, the editor of the New England Journal of Medicine wrote an editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association, titled: Industry sponsored research: A broken system?
Based on her tenure as the editor of the world’s most prestigious medical journal, Dr. Marcia Angell made some accusations. She wrote that drug companies often design studies, conduct the data analysis, decide which data will be included or suppressed, write the papers, pay for prestigious clinicians to put their name on papers already written by the drug company, and then decide how and when the paper will be published.
Dr. Angell concluded: “Drug companies now finance most clinical research on prescription drugs, and there is mounting evidence that they often skew the research they sponsor to make their drugs look better and safer. Physicians can no longer rely on the medical literature for valid and reliable information.”
She also published a best selling and award-winning novel, The Truth about Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It.
Let’s look at some examples from anti-depressants.
A research team from the United States, which was skeptical about the benefits of antidepressants, used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain results from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for all placebo-controlled trials. The team was startled to learn that 40 per cent of the studies had been suppressed because of negative results.
When all the studies were included, incorporating the negative studies, the authors concluded that “antidepressants are little more than active placebos, drugs with very little specific benefit, but with serious side-effects.”
The resulting publication in Prevention and Treatment made headlines around the world. And although regulatory agencies in Europe have begun to respond, there has been no response in North America.
At this point, let’s discuss the potential side-effects of antidepressants in a review from Harvard Medical School, titled: What are the real risks of antidepressants?
The most serious of these includes the increased risk of attempted suicide, especially among children. Other side-effects include insomnia, skin rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, reduced blood clotting capacity, stomach bleeding, uterine bleeding, tics, muscle spasms, trembling limbs, restlessness, severe anxiety, reduced sexual interest, reduced sexual performance, reduced sexual satisfaction, disturbed heart rhythms and reduced liver function.
There are also complications when antidepressants are taken with other drugs, and there is a long list of side-effects when antidepressant use is discontinued, including dizziness, loss of co-ordination, fatigue, burning sensations, blurred vision, insomnia, vivid dreams, nausea, diarrhea, flu-like symptoms, irritability, anxiety and crying spells.
Recently, the antidepressant Serzone was removed from the market after it was associated with hepatitis and liver failure.
The most worrisome side-effect is the increased risk of suicide attempt so let’s take a closer look.
Another review from the Food and Drug Administration found that not only do antidepressants provide no benefit to children, but the drugs are associated with a 50 per cent increase in suicidal behaviour.
Regrettably, these negative results, too, were buried by the drug companies.
Read the rest of this article here: http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Pharmaceutical+companies+deceive+public/3336124/story.html
Previous articles in this series: Effect of antidepressants, placebos similar by Mark Lemstra
Expanding mental disorders list adds to cost by Mark Lemstra