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Kids & Antidepressants: Facts Still Secret

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WASHINGTON, Jan 29, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Makers of popular antidepressants have refused to disclose controversial details of most U.S. trials of the drugs with depressed children.

As a result, doctors and parents are denied crucial evidence as they weigh fresh fears that such medicines may cause some children to become suicidal, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The companies, who make antidepressants like Paxil, Zoloft and Effexor, say the studies are trade secrets.

But researchers familiar with the unpublished data said the majority of secret trials show that children taking the medicines did not get any better than children taking dummy pills.

Of even more concern, though, are studies that indicate that such drugs actually cause self-destructive behavior.

For example, GlaxoSmithKline, which makes Paxil, has conducted three trials on depressed children. Company officials said all turned out negative -- the children on the drug did not do better than those on placebos -- but only one was published.

Based on its data, the company warned British doctors that Paxil, sold there as Seroxat, "should not be prescribed as new therapy" to depressed children younger than 18. Its letter last June cited the risk of increased hostility, agitation, and suicidal thoughts and attempts.

No such warning was issued in the United States, though Paxil is identical to Seroxat.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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