David Graham: Public Health Enemy

  • by: |
  • 04/18/2007
In the wake of the terrible tragedy at Virginia Tech comes yet another study demonstrating that the use of anti-depressants in adolescents -- carefully monitored -- are useful in treating various forms of depression, anxiety, panic disorder, etc. No major paper or media outlet which gave David Graham or others front page coverage of the threats or the misrepresentation of the dangers of SSRIs are now giving the benefits of these medications the same top of the fold treatment.

For those of you who want to see how such fear mongering can lead to a decline in the use of effective treatment and therefore an increase in violent behavior that in fact leads to suicide and tragic death, we now present one Graham's typical statements on SSRI's

"With the SSRIs [Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitors, the class of antidepressants including Prozac and Paxil], I think FDA pulled a fast one on the American people. Because they said, �we are using our most powerful labeling, our most powerful medicine: we�re putting a black box around it.� But it doesn�t change physician behavior. People are as unsafe after the labeling goes into effect as they were before.

With the SSRI labeling, people are actually more deceived. Because the labeling says that the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children is 1-2 percent. But FDA�s own senior managers admitted at an open public advisory committee meeting that our clinical trials don�t capture suicidal thoughts and behavior. So what we know about it is what has been voluntarily reported. There are lots more out there, we just didn�t measure them. They have evidence from an NIH clinical trial that the risk is more like 8 percent. "
Members of Congress and senior officials of the FDA should be ashamed of themselves for giving Graham the chance to not only rant on about Vioxx and SSRIs but to make the same claims about Ketek and drugs for schizophrenia.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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