According to a new medical study by Canadian researchers, side effects of antidepressants carry a similar risk of causing suicide in youths, regardless on the specific drug used.
The study, published online by the medical journal Pediatrics, looked at the use of Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac and determined that all of the antidepressants carried roughly the same risk of causing a child to attempt suicide. Researchers say the findings support the FDA’s decision to place a “black box” suicide risk warning on all antidepressants on the market.
Researchers from British Columbia looked at nearly 21,000 youths between the ages of 10 and 18, and found three suicides and 266 attempted suicides among those who had taken antidepressants for a year.
That number represents five times the rate of suicide and suicide attempts among youths not taking antidepressants, but researchers said that the number remained roughly consistent regardless of what kind of antidepressant the child was prescribed. Overall, researchers estimate that the use of antidepressants raises the rate of suicidal acts among children to 27.04 per 1,000 person-years.
Antidepressants, particularly a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have come under fire in recent years over concerns that they may increase the risk suicidal tendencies.
In particular, a number of lawsuits have been filed against GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of Paxil (paroxetine), for failing to adequately warn users and the medical community about the risk of suicide. The drug maker has spent an estimated $390 million to settle Paxil suicide or attempted suicide lawsuits. In December, Bloomberg News indicated that about 150 suicide death cases have settled for an average of $2 million each and another 300 attempted suicide cases resolved for about $300,000 each.