The New York Times

December 11, 2003

British Warning on Antidepressant Use for Youth



British drug regulators yesterday recommended against the use of all but one of a new generation of antidepressants in the treatment of depressed children under 18. In a letter sent to doctors and other health professionals, the government regulators said a review of data on the safety and effectiveness of the drugs, known as S.S.R.I.'s, indicated that their benefits did not outweigh their potential risks.


"One big problem for outside researchers, and for the public, is that the data that seems to show a link between the drugs and suicide is privately held by drug companies, though it has been provided to the government agencies.


"Dr. David Shaffer, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Columbia University who sent a letter on the issue at Pfizer's request to the British drug agency, said he had concluded that there was insufficient data to restrict the use of the drugs in adolescents. "The bottom line is that suicidal ideation and suicide attempts are very common in depressed kids," he said."