Twenty-two years after the US marketing of Prozac, which changed the marketing, prescribing and widespread consumption of psychoactive drugs, a meta-analysis of six large studies published in the Journal of the Medical Association (JAMA) confirms that industry’s blockbuster drugs, SSRI antidepressants, were unable to outperform placebos for moderate sumptions of depression.
Just like the older, much cheaper tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs show a clinical value only for severely depressed – i.e., clinically dysfunctional– patients.
In other words, antidepressants are worthless for most of the people for whom they are prescribed.
Even cautious reporters of The New York Times could no longer avoid reporting the obvious – despite efforts to deflect from the scientific verdict:
“The findings could help settle a longstanding debate about antidepressants.
While the study does not imply that the drugs are worthless for anyone with moderate to serious depression, it does provide one likely explanation for the sharp disagreement among experts about the drugs’ overall effectiveness.
Taken together, previous studies have painted a confusing picture. On one hand, industry-supported trials have generally found that the drugs sharply reduce symptoms. On the other, many studies that were not initially published, or were buried, showed no significant benefits compared with placebos.”
Dr. Erick Turner, whose earlier study Selective Publication of Antidepressant Trials and Its Influence on Apparent Efficacy, in The New England Journal of Medicine, 2008 caused a stir among industry’s stakeholders, also avoided the inescapable conclusion, given the finding that placebos performed just as well as antidepressants without any adverse side-effects:
“I think the study could dampen enthusiasm for antidepressant medications a bit, and that may be a good thing. People’s expectations for the drugs won’t be so high, and doctors won’t be surprised if they’re not curing every patient they see with medications.”
“The magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medication compared with placebo increases with severity of depression symptoms and may be MINIMAL OR NONEXISTENT, on average, in patients with mild or moderate symptoms. For patients with very severe depression, the benefit of medications over placebo is substantial.
No finding of a cure for ANY patient
The full magnitude of severe harm produced by these drugs in otherwise healthy people for whom antidepressants were misprescribed has not yet been fully collated–the human casualties include thousands of drug-induced suicides, mania, drug-exacerbated depression, drug dependence, birth defects. Story here.