Interesting news item from the
Sydney Morning Herald
By Julie Robotham, Medical Writer
October 21 2002
The mood-lifting effect of the most popular anti-depressants is barely more than people experience when they take a dummy sugar pill, according to analysis of secret pharmaceutical company trials.
Irving Kirsch, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut, studied trial results for Prozac, Aropax, Zoloft, Cipramil, Effexor and Serzone - the most common new generation of anti-depressants which are used in Australia and the United States.
He found that “by far, the greatest part of the [mood] change is also observed among patients treated with inert placebos. The active agent enhances this effect, but to a degree that may be clinically meaningless.”
Using US freedom of information laws, Dr Kirsch obtained details of all clinical trials sponsored by the manufacturers of the drugs, which had to be submitted to the country’s Food and Drugs Administration before they could be prescribed. Companies must provide all data on safety and effectiveness - even if it has not been released through scientific journals.
When this unpublished information was included in an analysis of the drugs’ effectiveness, they turned out to be less potent than had previously been believed, wrote Dr Kirsch in online journal Prevention and Treatment. Those taking a placebo experienced 80 per cent of the benefits measured in people taking real drugs.
This is old news, as it was reported on back at the end of July, and it doesn’t apply in cases of clinical depression.
But thanks for playing.
And unless I missed something, it also doesn’t indicate if the actual drugs were working at all. Sometimes, you know, you have to fiddle with a few different doses and meds to find one that works for you.