Sunday, January 20, 2008

Study questions effectiveness of antidepressants

The Oregonian:
The portrayal of antidepressant drugs in medical journals significantly overstates their effectiveness, according to a study led by Oregon researchers.

Nearly a third of the clinical trials of antidepressants carried out by drug companies produced questionable or negative results that never appeared publicly in print, researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"The doctor and the patient have only been aware of good news about these drugs in terms of efficacy," said lead author Dr. Erick Turner, a former drug reviewer for the federal Food and Drug Administration who now holds positions at the Portland Veteran Affairs Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University.

The findings do not imply that the drugs don't work, but rather that doctors and patients lack a full, nuanced picture of their effectiveness.

The results also highlight a widespread bias problem in reporting on drug treatments of all kinds, said Dr. David Liebeskind, associate director of neurology at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Denied access to all completed studies, Liebeskind said, doctors and patients can't make the best possible decisions. Doctors may prescribe drugs that patients don't need or recommend drugs that are less effective than alternatives.

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