Pharmaceutical companies have been exposed for paying academic physicians to produce positive studies and promote their drugs to the medical community at large. Dr. Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, wrote a ground breaking book, The Truth about the Drug Companies: How They Deceived Us and What to Do about It. In it, Angell writes that the pharmaceutical companies not only use their enormous economic power to induce academic physicians to promote their products, but also arrange consulting contracts with researchers at the FDA and National Institute of Health (NIH) to do the same.
Prozac received FDA approval in 1987.
Within the first four years of its release, the FDA had been made aware from the public, from physicians and from published medical reports that the risk of suicidal ideation and suicide had increased in patients taking Prozac. In September 1991, the FDA summoned a panel of so called experts to investigate the concern of the public and physicians that Prozac use was leading to an increased incidence of suicides among users of the drug. The panel consisted of nine (9) members of whom five (5) had financial ties to the pharmaceutical companies. There was clearly a conflict of interest present among the members. The committee voted 6 to 3 not to issue a warning on the suicidal risk present with the use of Prozac. Given the makeup of the committee this does not seem surprising. What is surprising is that three (3) members had the courage to vote to issue the warning.
It was not until March 2004 that the FDA finally issued a warning that adult and pediatric patients on antidepressants could develop a range of side effects that may make them suicidal, including anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, impulsivity, akathisia (severe restlessness) hypomania and mania. The FDA further warned that patients are most vulnerable to suicide and these other side effects when the treatment is initiated, and then when the dose is either increased or decreased.
Then in October 2004 the FDA required that a Black Box warning be added to all pharmaceutical information regarding the use of antidepressants in children. The warning stated that children and adolescents taking antidepressants are at an increased risk for suicidal thinking and actions. In May 2007 this Black Box warning was required to be added to antidepressant information in individuals from 18 to 24 years of age. Why did it take so long for the FDA to fulfill its mission to protect the public?
Antidepressants cause suicidal thoughts and actions in adults as well as young adults and children.
To combat the negative press, the drug companies that manufactured antidepressants had articles researched and written by ghostwriters at public relation firms that continued to extol the benefits of antidepressants. These articles were then published under the name of prominent academic psychiatrists who were paid considerable sums for their influence. These articles were then disseminated to drug salesmen who were sent out to calm the concerns of practicing physicians, using this deceptive marketing plan.
At the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, approximately 75% of our new women guests who present to us for evaluation have been prescribed antidepressants. Women are prescribed antidepressants nearly three (3) times more frequently than men. This should indicate to you what the drug companies and mainstream medicine think about women and their health issues. Often women have told me that their physicians have made them feel like they are hypochondriacs.
Steven F. Hotze, M.D.