It was only a matter of time. How long could the wool be pulled over society’s eyes before questions would arise? Antidepressants have been some of the most overprescribed meds in all of history, yet the “science” behind them is tainted with selective publication, where research groups leave out negative outcomes, and only publish favorable ones. But the real tragedy is in how western culture could buy in to the mass drugging of society, the medicating of an illness of questionable etiology, and the anesthetizing of its children; all for one reason only: It was the easiest thing to do. Time is not on the side of the current pharmaceutical solution to depression, however, as larger, more scrutinizing eyes peer into the dark hole that is the antidepressant industry, and some of the truths revolving around the popular SSRI medications will finally be brought to light.
A recent comprehensive study carried out in Copenhagen, Denmark, and published last week in the BMJ (the British Medical Journal) showed that pharmaceutical companies were not presenting the full extent of serious harm in clinical study reports, which are detailed documents sent to regulatory authorities such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) when applying for approval of a new drug. Researchers examined documents from 70 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials of two common types of antidepressants—selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI)—and found that the occurrence of suicidal thoughts and aggressive behavior doubled in children and adolescents who used these medications.
This should come to no surprise for readers of this blog, as I have reported extensively on similar occurrences taking place within the antidepressant manufacturing industry since 2008! Remember when I told you how “one third of antidepressant drug studies are never published in the medical literature, and that virtually all of those that are hidden happen to show the drug being tested did not work”? Or how about when I brought you the 60-Minutes piece that disclosed that many of the studies that show antidepressants not doing much more than placebo have been hidden by the manufacturers who lead the studies. Hmmm…see a pattern here? How about when I told you of the government’s black box warning on antidepressants which were causing increased suicidality in young adults taking the medications. Or maybe you have checked out my book, The Six Keys to Optimal Health, where I delve in to detail of the shameful practices of antidepressant industry. And remember…I told you that antidepressants were the third most common prescription drug taken by Americans of all ages between 2005–2008, and that more children are on psychoactive drugs today than on any other drug ever before in history. Well if you actually have no clue as to what I am talking about do not feel ashamed, you are right in step with the rest of society, because you were never meant to know, you see. That was the idea. And if you did happen to find out, you likely let it gloss right over you, even if your child was on these same drugs, because you have been conditioned by a system to believe in your cultural health authority—your medical doctor. Little did you know that your trusted doc was being fooled as well.
According to the Scientific American article, The Hidden Harm of Antidepressants (February 3, 2016), “Last September a study published in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology revealed that a third of meta-analyses of antidepressant studies were written by pharma employees and that these were 22 times less likely than other meta-studies to include negative statements about the drug. That same month another research group reported that after reanalyzing the data from Study 329*, a 2001 clinical trial of Paxil funded by GlaxoSmithKline, they uncovered exaggerated efficacy and undisclosed harm to adolescents (emphasis mine).”
This latest Danish study discovered that some of the most useful information was in individual patient listings buried in the appendices. For example, they uncovered suicide attempts that were passed off as “emotional lability” or “worsening depression” in the report itself. This information, however, was only available for 32 out of the 70 trials.
“[This study] confirms that the full degree of harm of antidepressants is not reported,” says Joanna Moncrieff, a psychiatrist and researcher at University College London who was not involved in the study. “They are not reported in the published literature, we know that—and it appears that they are not properly reported in clinical study reports that go to the regulators and form the basis of decisions about licensing.”
Here is an interesting tidbit on the dynamic between the pharmaceutical industry and the government regulatory system meant to keep an eye on it: The FDA requires pharmaceutical companies to fund and publish studies on all their products. As you might imagine, that is loads and loads of paper. To accommodate the reporting agents who must read these papers, thousands upon thousands of studies are combined in the form of a meta-analysis—a study of studies—where certain parameters are established, and these studies are collectively analysed and reported on. And who do you think prepares these meta-analyses? Yup…representatives with ties to pharmaceutical companies themselves. Duuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhh….
When the researchers from the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen attempted to secure the appendices from the EMA they were flatly denied.
“We found that a lot of the appendices were often only available upon request to the authorities, and the authorities had never requested them,” says Tarang Sharma, a PhD student at Cochrane and lead author of the study. “I’m actually kind of scared about how bad the actual situation would be if we had the complete data.”
“They talked about commercial confidentiality although there was absolutely nothing in these reports that was commercially confidential,” Peter Gøtzsche, a clinician researcher at Cochrane and a co-author of the study.
It took three years, repeated requests and complaints to the European Ombudsman—elected by the European Parliament to investigate claims against European Union institutions—for the research team to receive the documents. While the EMA vowed to increase public access to clinical-trial documents, no equivalent has been proposed for the U.S.
You can see that the antidepressant industry—from publication to regulation—has had the cards stacked in its favor for decades. But as a result of the fine work carried out in Copenhagen, more attuned eyes are now on the case. It will be much harder to deceive the greater scientific community as it has been to fool the public and its pushers: the medical establishment. How the medical community has eaten up the fabrications conjured by Big Pharma without so much as a question: “Hey, why aren’t my patients doing significantly better?” “Gee how did we ever make it this far as a species without antidepressants if they are so crucial?” “Do my patients really need to be medicated from the time they are very young til the day they die?” “Are lifestyle drugs really the answer for a modern humanity?” I mean, really, no doctors ever had those thoughts? Ever? That’s what really blows me away. And to this day, doctors will defend their paradigm, “I know its helped my patients.You don’t have a competing theory.” But they can no longer say the science backs them up (as so many had assumed in the past).
But, again, this entire fiasco is simply a dynamic: Individual doctors would naturally accept a paradigm taught in medical college as a sacred cow. What reason would compel the average medical doctor to question what seems to make sense. Isn’t that how we do it? Take the smoothest, easiest run down the river; why wouldn’t we? People want that. And we got it. What’s easier and more miraculous than pharmaceuticals? Seriously. AND…we get cool stuff for pushing it—pens, all-expenses paid trips, and updates from sales reps on the latest breakthroughs, science and public health figures along with Starbucks and muffins. Parents are happy because it appears something is being done. But don’t mind Junior—he just wants to kill himself… Listen, it’s a dynamic. If a doctor is not forced to make a change he or she will not. Even highly-discriminating professionals are susceptible to stagnancy.
Easy, solution, and profits are three words that make for a powerful force—elements of an unharnessed wave that can sweep over a village and wipe away its foundation before anyone knows what hit them. But a study like the one carried out in Denmark is a wake-up call for an inherently more powerful force, the force of the public good. As more accurate information gets out to the masses—like the dangerous side-effects of suicidal thoughts and aggression in young people taking antidepressants—people will be less inclined to make that choice for their own children, doctors will become less enamored with the pharmaceutical option for treating depression in children, and the regulatory agencies—under public pressure—will have to become more scrutinizing (which essentially means “more paper”).
And pharmaceutical manufacturers? Well they will merely look for newer drugs to replace the current antidepressants. In fact, they are already in the works now. A dynamic it will continue to be, just with different parameters to fool us for the next while.
*Please read up on study 329