Intended for healthcare professionals


US study questions use of black box warning on antidepressants

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 12 January 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:68
  1. David Spurgeon
  1. Quebec

    The risk of serious attempts at suicide or death by suicide decreases in the weeks after adults start taking antidepressants, a new study has found. The study, which was funded by the US National Institute for Mental Health, also found that the risk of suicidal behaviour after patients start to take the drugs is generally less for the newer types of antidepressant drugs than for the older types (American Journal of Psychiatry 2006;163: 41-7).

    The study's findings run counter to a 2004 advisory by the US Food and Drug Administration, which recommended close observation for emergence of suicidality in all patients treated with 10 newer antidepressants, including fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (sold in the US as Paxil and in the United Kingdom as Seroxat) (BMJ 2005;331: 70).

    The study looked at the risk of death by suicide and serious attempt at suicide in the acute phase of antidepressant treatment—the first month after treatment begins. It …

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