Moves in Britain and the U.S. to stop a controversial antidepressant from being given to children further support a lawsuit against the manufacturer launched by a city family.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the British Department of Health are now both warning that youngsters under the age of 18 should not be given the drug known as Paxil in North America because it can cause suicidal behaviour.
A lawyer is working on behalf of an Edmonton woman and her two daughters who survived a vicious knife attack by a 16-year-old family friend who was on Paxil.
“Suicide and attacks on other people are part of the same pattern of behaviour,” said Vickery. “This development is a real help to us.”
Dr. David Healy, a British psychiatric expert, has testified in court cases involving the drug. Only last week, a Scottish judge decided not to jail an 18-year-old girl who attacked a woman in a nightclub after hearing she was taking the drug for depression. “The drug contributed to your actions on the night of the offence, and Dr. Healy provided evidence that the behaviour of normally sensible people can become aggressive after taking the drug,” said Sheriff Ian Simpson.
A psychiatric report on the 16-year-old who attacked the Edmonton woman and her two daughters said increasing the dose of Paxil he was taking for depression “may have contributed to the acute psychotic break.”
Studies have also found that Paxil is about as effective at tackling depression in children as a sugar pill. A letter sent to British doctors by manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline advise the drug should not be used to treat depression in children. It said children in clinical trials of the drug had been twice as likely to suffer suicidal thoughts, hostility, agitation and other adverse effects as those in the control group.
Health Canada is still studying the research and has not issued any advice on the use of Paxil in children. Spokesman Ryan Baker said Health Canada can regulate what drugs are sold in Canada but it is up to doctors how they are used. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta has no guidelines on the use of Paxil.
GlaxoSmithKline spokesman Alison Steeves said it’s company policy to not comment on possible or active court cases.