Research published in this week's British Medical Journal suggests some disturbing shortcomings in trials of newer antidepressants with children. The researchers conclude that antidepressant drugs cannot confidently be recommended as a treatment option for childhood depression.
The researchers arrived at their conclusions by reviewing six published trials of newer antidepressants in children. They analysed each study's methods and the extent to which the various authors conclusions were supported by data.
The authors say drug companies paid for the trials and otherwise remunerated the authors of at least three of the four larger studies. The trials consistently exaggerated the benefits of drugs and downplayed the side effects.
Biased reporting and over-confident recommendations in treatment guidelines may mislead doctors, patients, and families, they say. Many will undervalue non-drug treatments that are probably both safer and more effective.
Trustworthy trial results are a foundation of good medical care. It is vital that authors, reviewers, and editors ensure that published interpretations of data are more reasonable and balanced than is the case in the industry dominated literature on childhood antidepressants, they conclude.