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Pharmaceutical Industry Hid SSRI Dangers to Children

Pharmaceutical Industry Hid SSRI Dangers to Children

"Originally we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding this study until we actually viewed the results. Essentially the study did not really show paroxetine was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicize."
- Internal GlaxoSmithKine Memo

October 17, 2007 —

In 1999, the Washington Post revealed that Eric Harris, a participant in the Columbine massacre, had been taking Luvox—an SSRI and cousin to such popular anti-depression drugs as Prozac and Paxil.  By itself, the revelation isn't too damning; lots of people are on anti-depressants and just because some of them does bad things doesn't mean the drug is the cause.

What's more troubling is that Kip Kinkle, author of the second most famous school shooting of the 1990s, was on Prozac. Industry-wide tests on the effects of SSRIs on children and adolescents were done in the mid-90s, and those tests tied the drugs to suicide, aggression, and violent behavior.

In the case of Paxil, a BBC investigation has shown that GlaxoSmithKine (GSK) suppressed the results of its internal trials of the drug on children:

The results of the studies were disappointing. The possibility of obtaining a safety statement from this data was considered but rejected. Consultation of the marketing teams confirmed that this would be unacceptable commercially.

The company went on to commission misleading studies by academics, publishing the results—ghost written by a member of a medical PR firm retained by GSK—in medical journals. This led to the drug being prescribed "off label" by child psychologists looking for new and effective remedies for their patients' depression. Tens of thousands of children worldwide were prescribed the drug every year, and there are real horror stories from parents who lost children and claim that their suicides were directly caused by the drug.

GlaxoSmithKine produces and markets dozens of consumer products including: Aquafresh, Geritol,Goody's Powder, Horlicks, Lucozade, Nytol, Ribena, and Tums.

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