The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Are those pills doing us any good?

Mar 17, 2008

Twenty-three million people in the U.S. took just one prescription anti-depressant, Prozac, in 2006. In Britain, 31 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were filled in 2006 (in a total population of 60 million people).

Yet a recent study shows that most anti-depressants are little better than sugar pills at relieving anxiety or depression. Researchers at a British university just published the results of studying 47 clinical trials on anti-depressants. Most of the studies were done on U.S. patients with depression, and especially focused on such popular anti-depressants as Prozac, Effexor and Paxil.

One professor doing the study concluded, “This means that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments. Given these results, there seems little reason to prescribe anti-depressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients.”

In fact, the professor had another warning when he was interviewed. “One of the problems with anti-depressants is the risk of side-effects, such as an increased potential for suicide. Given that risk it is important, it is important to know there are alternatives that seem to do as well or nearly as well but without the side-effects.”

So why haven’t sugar pills been prescribed? They have “side effects” on the profits of GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, and the rest of the pharmaceutical industry.