Dr. Joan Luby, the preschool depression researcher at the center of a New York Times article that failed to mention her past research was funded by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Shire (SHPGY) and AstraZeneca (AZN), is currently testing the antipsychotic Risperdal on autistic children aged 30 months to 5 years old, according to the ClinicalTrials.gov database. Although the study is not funded by Janssen, the unit of J&J that makes Risperdal, it nonetheless typifies a new field of drug research: The use of mood-altering pharmaceuticals on the very, very young.
The NYT Sunday magazine crowned Dr. Joan Luby as the queen of preschool depression this weekend, but failed to mention that Luby has taken cash from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Shire (SHPGY) and AstraZeneca (AZN) to study using atypical antipsychotics in young children. The article is significant because of the outsize role that the Times magazine plays in creating and naming new social trends.
The father of a Harvard College sophomore who killed himself in 2007 sued the school’s president and fellows for wrongful death, alleging the institution’s health service prescribed drugs known to increase suicide risk.
The journal Archives of General Psychiatry will “look into” whether an author who recommended antidepressants for preschoolers failed to disclose her financial ties to Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Shire, companies which make such drugs, according to Philip Dawdy of Furious Seasons.
It’s easy to make jokes about “preschool depression”—students get it every time the alarm rings—but finding depression, “relapses,” “chronicity,” and “treatment resistance” in 3-year-olds is not funny.
Researchers used to believe that “young children were too cognitively and emotionally immature to experience depressive effects,” says Joan L. Luby, M.D., but now believe they can and do suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).