The Star Phoenix, September 16, 2010
by Mark Lemstra
Russell Williams, president of Canada’s Pharmaceutical Companies, recently wrote an opinion piece criticizing a series of articles that I wrote on antidepressants. His article was headlined: “Drug industry ethical standards high.”
Curiously, Williams did not address my concern that a review from the United States Food and Drug Administration found that antidepressants not only have no benefit in children, but are associated with a 50 per cent increase in suicidal behaviour.
Regrettably, these negative results were buried by the drug companies. In an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, titled Drug Company Experts Advised Staff to Withhold Data about SSRI Use in Children, and a separate editorial in The Lancet, titled Depressing Research, the authors express regret that drug companies put profits ahead of preventing suicides among children.
I fail to see the high ethical standards in these actions. In fact, it would be easy to list all of the unethical activity by pharmaceutical companies, but this would take a whole book. Instead, let’s discuss one specific example in detail.