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Antidepressants once seen as miracle drugs: now risks are becoming evident

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Sarah Boseley
London Guardian
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Since the horror of the Thalidomide scandal in the 1960s, pharmaceutical companies and medicines regulators have been acutely aware of the dangers drugs may pose to the unborn child.

Establishing what the effect of a drug may be on a foetus, however, is no simple task. Companies must rely on animal studies in the early stages of research and hope that the drug will behave in humans in the same way. Trials on pregnant women are rarely carried out, for obvious reasons.

Depression and anxiety became big business for the pharmaceutical industry in the 1990s as doctors became better at diagnosing the problems, exposing a population of over-achieving, highly-stressed, worried-well.

Women, always more willing to see a doctor than men, were a large proportion of those diagnosed and put on SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as Prozac and the British drug Seroxat, known as Paxil in the US. For a while, these seemed to be the new miracle drugs. They were safer than older antidepressants because the severely depressed could not overdose on them.

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This article was posted: Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 5:22 am





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