American doctors, families and caregivers have been warned to keep a close watch for suicidal tendencies among patients on some popular antidepressants.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also called on drug makers to change labels on 10 drugs. They want stronger warnings of the possible suicide risk associated with the pills.
Industry analysts suggest the global market for the 10 drugs may be worth $13.7 billion this year. They are Zoloft, Pfizer Inc.'s $3.1 billion-a-year seller, Prozac, Paxil, Effexor, Celexa, Remeron, Lexapro, Luvox, Serzone and Wellbutrin. Most are known to affect the brain chemical serotonin, inform Canada.com
"We don't know yet if there is a link between antidepressant use and suicide," said Dr. Thomas Laughren, team leader of the Food and Drug Administration's psychopharmacology group. But yesterday's recommendation comes on the heels of an FDA advisory committee's recommendation last month to add the warning while the committee continues to investigate. Laughren said the warning is intended for all ages, not just children and teenagers, report Newsday.com
According to Washingtonpost.com patients taking the drugs who experience behavioral side effects should contact their physicians, said Russell Katz, director of neuropharmacological drug products at the FDA. If the symptoms are new or severe, he added, doctors should consider lowering the dose or stopping the drug.
Many psychiatrists say the medications save lives and warn that discouraging patients from taking them could lead to greater numbers of suicides. They insist that suicidal tendencies or attempts among patients taking the drugs are the result of underlying disorders, not the medications.
Rates of suicide among adolescents have generally declined as antidepressant use has surged in recent years, said Thomas P. Laughren, FDA team leader for psychiatric drug products. While no one knows whether the two trends are linked, he said at a news conference yesterday, such data framed the context in which the FDA acted.