News / 

Antidepressant Warning From Britain Provokes U.S. Response

Save Story

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Washington (dpa) - A warning by British drug regulators about antidepressants given to children provoked concern and criticism in the United States, media reports said Thursday.

British government officials Wednesday warned that the risks of most common antidepressants given to children outweighed the benefits, and could even trigger suicidal thoughts in children under age 18.

Only Prozac, the oldest of the current generation of medicines for depression, was considered acceptable by Britain's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

U.S. government officials are engaged in their own investigation of a possible link between selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), as the drugs are known, and suicide in children and adolescents.

Public hearings will be held in February by the Food and Drug Administration on the issue, The New York Times reported.

But U.S. psychiatrists who treat depression said the British action was an extreme overreaction and could even place some children at risk.

"If countries start to say medications are too dangerous for children, you have a bunch of kids who don't get treatment and will continue to suffer from depression," Adelaide Robb, adolescent psychiatrist at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.

Depression "has a high suicide rate itself", she said.

About 1 per cent of American children are treated for depression every year, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. About 57 per cent receive antidepressants, according to Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University who authored the study.

Olfson, who was interviewed by the Post, was surprised by the high incidence of medication, but speculated that the lack of trained child psychiatrists and psychologists and the reluctance of health insurance companies to pay for expensive talk therapy could have contributed to a higher use of drugs, which are cheaper.

Olfson said however that a study he conducted appeared to indicate that children in regions where antidepressants are more widely prescribed had a lower rate of suicide.

Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

Most recent News stories


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast