The Trial Lawyer Summer 2018 - Page 51

BIG PHARMA ’ S PLAN TO GET YOU HOOKED ON ANTIDEPRESSANTS

By Martha Rosenberg
Antidepressants were once considered a short-term therapy to help people get over a troubled time . All that changed with the debut of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor ( SSRI ) antidepressants , drug ads on TV and the promotion of the “ chemical imbalance ” theory of depression . Though there is almost no evidence of the theory — that SSRI antidepressants correct deficits in brain levels of serotonin , a neurotransmitter — antidepressants became blockbusters for Pharma .
“ By the mid-1990s , drug makers had convinced government regulators that when taken long-term , the medications sharply reduced the risk of relapse in people with chronic , recurrent depression ,” says the New York Times .
Thanks to drug advertising and the unproven serotonin theory , the use of antidepressants has almost tripled . Only 13.4 million Americans took antidepressants in 1999 – 2000 , ballooning to 34.4 million in 2013 – 14 . In 2015 one in four U . S . women were on psychiatric drugs , usually antidepressants . More concerning , long-term use of antidepressants has doubled since 2010 and tripled since 2000 so that 15.5 million Americans have been taking the medications for at least five years . Yet few studies show the safety or efficacy antidepressants used long-term .
I have frequently reported on the side effects of SSRIs from birth defects associated with Paxil , including heart malformations , to sexual dysfunction and weight gain . The pills are also linked to serotonin syndrome when taken with migraine drugs and gastrointestinal bleeding when taken with aspirin .
One especially concerning side effect of SSRIs is bonethinning and osteoporosis . Fracture events linked to SSRIs ,
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