Researcher Slams SSRIs, Citing Large Risks And Small Benefits

I got this PDF file emailed to me yesterday, but wasn’t well enough to take a good look at it, so just visit Furious Seasons’s today. This is a VERY important step forward.

Furious Seasons no longer exists so here is a copy of the original post:

March 19, 2009

Researcher Slams SSRIs, Citing Large Risks And Small Benefits

Joel Kauffman is an emeritus chemistry professor at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and in an article in the current Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons he does everything but call SSRIs–Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro–unsafe at any speed. You can get a pdf of the article here.

From Kauffman’s conclusion:

“Antidepressants are extraordinarily difficult to assess for risks or benefits in trials.”At most, 11%–30% of patients with depression or related conditions who take SSRIs actually benefited beyond the placebo effect on normal doses. Of the perceived benefit, 32%–67% can be attributed to the placebo effect.

“Adverse effects, mostly dose-dependent, will appear in up to 75% of patients on normal doses. Of these, studies suggest that suicidality will be observed in an additional 2%–13% (1 in 50 to 1 in 8) of patients on normal doses, beyond what is seen on placebo or many non-SSRI antidepressant drugs. This is sufficiently frequent that a typical prescribing physician should observe examples in routine practice.

“The actual suicide rate could be about 123/100,000 (1 in 813) higher in patients on SSRIs than in those on tricyclics or placebo. Studies show that many more suicides are on normal doses of SSRIs beyond what is seen on placebo or many non-SSRI antidepressant drugs.”

If the placebo effect is as large as Kauffman asserts, then the actual effect size of SSRIs runs from about 10 percent to 20 percent–pretty darn small. The adverse events and suicidality data speak for themselves.

I know I’m far from the only reader of this article who appreciates the fact that some doctors are finally pressing for caution in the use of SSRIs and anti-depressants. It’s refreshing and long overdue.

Posted by Philip Dawdy at March 19, 2009 12:05 AM 

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