Doubled suicide risk? Give it to kids
In 2003, the FDA sent an urgent warning to health care professionals about the dangerous risk of suicide associated with the use of a handful of antidepressants, including Paxil, in children.
Of course, the drugs didn't go away -- that's just not the American way -- and physicians were told they should just prescribe the drugs "with caution."
That's not enough for Glaxo, apparently. They're running a trial to test the efficacy of Paxil in children and adolescents. Children between the ages of 7 and 17 will be given the drug or a placebo for 8 weeks -- yep, that's it.
And it's not too late to sign your child up, because they're still recruiting for the trial! Of course, you'll have to go to Japan and stay there until the study wraps up in September, but it's a small price to pay to play your part in the miracle of modern medicine.
I know, I know, this is a serious issue and I'm being glib. But the alternative involves several nasty words, and I don't want to subject my nice readers to that.
I guess they were hoping that by conducting the drug trial in Japan they might be able to stay somewhat under the radar until the trial was complete and they'd finished handing out what could turn out to be a deadly substance to 130 children.
Now, I'm glad the number is low because that means fewer children are at risk (though, of course, I'd prefer that NO children be put at risk). But there is a dangerous side to this coin -- it will only take a small number of positive reactions to drive up the "hey, it works!" percentage.
You might not have read the "black box" warning on Paxil because you're staying far, far away from the stuff. It includes a couple of highlights:
- The average risk of suicidal thinking or behavior in children and adolescents using Paxil is twice as high as that with placebo
- Children taking Paxil must be closely watched by parents to catch unusual changes in behavior
- Paxil isn't even approved for use in pediatric patients
In trials, four out of 100 children on antidepressants became suicidal (think for a moment, again, about the 130 being enrolled in the current trial). Thankfully, none in the trials committed suicide. I have a hunch that might have something to do with the close eye being kept on these kids by researchers and parents as a result of being enrolled in a clinical trial.
Because, outside of the clinical environment, this sadly hasn't been the case. A quick Google search reveals too many cases of suicide and other violent behaviors in which antidepressants are implicated.
If this small (and potentially devastating) trial being conducted on children as young as seven ends up being used to gain approval for the use of Paxil in children and adolescents, it will only mean more prescriptions being written out for kids.
We should be working to eliminate the use of these drugs in children, not to increase it. I can only hope that, when the time comes, the FDA remembers their own warnings and doesn't let some inflated percentages put more of these drugs into young bodies.