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Suicide Drops With Antidepressant Use

FDA Warning May Be Misleading, New Study Shows

FDA Warning Revisited

The FDA has been criticized by some who say that it acted too hastily in warning about the potential for suicidal behavior in adults being treated with the new-generation antidepressants. The agency has also required the manufacturers of five of the drugs to warn that the medications could pose a specific risk for children and teens.

Adolescents in the newly reported study attempted suicide four times as often as adults. But, as with the adults, the risk of attempts was highest in the month before treatment and declined after treatment began.

Simon says there were too few children and teens included in the study to determine if this population is uniquely vulnerable.

With regard to adults, Simon points out that the FDA warning simply calls for close observation of people under treatment with antidepressant medications. While he agrees that this is a good idea, he says it isn't because they are at increased risk for suicide.

"Closer monitoring is clearly needed, but we have data which shows that the FDA advisory has resulted in fewer patients being treated with no improvement in monitoring," he says.

American Psychiatric Association spokesman David Fassler, MD, says the new findings are consistent with the emerging research on drug treatment for depression and suicide.

"There is no evidence to suggest that [the newer] antidepressants increase the risk of suicide," he says. "On the contrary, we know that access to comprehensive and appropriate treatment reduces the risk of suicide in patients with depression. The current study is a useful contribution to the ongoing public dialog on this issue."

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