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Clinical trials

Negative Antidepressant Studies Routinely Buried, Research Shows

Sunday, February 24, 2008 by: Adam Miller
Tags: clinical trials, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) According to a recently published article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Selective Publication of Antidepressant Trials and Its Influence on Apparent Efficacy, studies showing antidepressants to be effective are published more often than those reporting negative outcomes, and the results of negative studies are often skewed to appear positive.

The authors of the NEJM article - led by former FDA medical reviewer Dr. Erick H. Turner - obtained 74 FDA-reviewed studies of 12 commonly prescribed antidepressants. Of these studies, 37 reported positive results and 37 reported negative results. Upon review, the researchers found that while only one of the 37 positive studies escaped publication, a full 22 of the 37 negative studies never saw print. Even more astounding was the fact that of the 15 published negative studies, 11 of them were spun by the publishing journal in a way that, according to Dr. Turner and his team, conveyed a positive outcome.

More precisely, the journal articles covering these studies cleverly highlighted secondary positive results as if they were the primary outcomes that the studies hoped to attain. As if that still weren't enough, nine of these 11 studies completely omitted the disappointing primary outcome in lieu of a positive secondary outcome. The exact reasons for lack of publication are unclear.

Commenting on the results of the article Dr. Jeffrey M. Drazen, editor in chief of The New England Journal remarked that "We need to show respect for the people who enter a trial. They take some risk to be in the trial, and then the drug company hides the data? That kind of thing gets us pretty passionate about this issue."

While this is not the first time the effectiveness of antidepressants has come under scrutiny, this article marks the most thorough analysis of the clinical evidence to date.

Up to this point published studies showed that about 60% of study participants find relief from depression using antidepressants, compared with 40% of those given a placebo. When this unpublished data is entered into the equation, however, the NEJM report concludes that antidepressants outperform placebo by a much more modest margin.

Currently, published literature suggests that 94% of antidepressant studies ended positively. This number plummets to only about half when unpublished studies are included, however, with antidepressants only narrowly outperforming placebo overall.

Dr. Turner said of his findings that "the bottom line for people considering an antidepressant, I think, is that they should be more circumspect about taking it, and not be so shocked if it doesn't work the first time and think something's wrong with them." He went on to say of doctors that "they end up asking, 'how come these drugs seem to work so well in all these studies, and I'm not getting that response?'"

About the author

Adam Miller is a student of life who has dedicated literally thousands of hours of personal research on top of formal institutional training in Dietetics to learn the secrets of achieving vibrant health and extended lifespan. His passion and dedication is in bringing the best ideas for self-empowerment through nutrition and nutraceuticals as well as alternative therapies, technology, and information to the public through various means.


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