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Published January 18, 2008
This is a rush transcript from “The Big Story With John Gibson and Heather Nauert,” January 17, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
HEATHER NAUERT, CO-HOST: It’s a big scandal tonight, what drug companies are not telling you about anti-depressants that they’re selling to millions and millions of Americans. Some people say that they can’t live without Prozac, Paxil and other drugs. But a new study says that the pills may not be helping them as much as they think or that they’re led to believe. “Big Story” correspondent Douglas Kennedy takes a fair and balanced look now at the findings. And by the way, Douglas was the first national reporter to link anti-depressant medications to adolescent suicide and violence which prompted government hearings.
Douglas, so what is going on?
DOUGLAS KENNEDY, FOX CORRESPONDENT: Yes, thanks, Heather. What this study confirms is what we have been reporting for years, namely that anti-depressants often do not do what they promise and are, in fact, causing harm to many.
KENNEDY (voice-over): When Lynn Michaels was 37-years-old, she contracted Lyme disease. She said she chose to go on an anti-depressant because she wanted for feel better and the drugs had gotten so much good publicity both in the media and in their commercials.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Talk to your doctor about Zoloft.
KENNEDY (on camera): What had you heard about anti-depressants?
LYNN MICHAELS, TAPERSAFELY.ORG: Well, at the time, they were non- habit forming drugs. There was no risk of addiction, and I could try Paxil, this new miracle drug and I could see if I liked it, and if not, I could get off of it.
KENNEDY (voice-over): But she couldn’t get off, even after the drug had stopped working.
MICHAELS: I went into complete and total despair. I was unable to think straight. I was unable to sleep. I was in total panic.
KENNEDY (on camera): And you spent years trying to wean yourself off?
MICHAELS: I spent eight years trying to find a way off the drugs.
KENNEDY: And what happened during that time?
MICHAELS: It cost me my personal life, my marriage, my professional life.
KENNEDY (voice-over): Now a blockbuster study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms what Lynn already knew from personal experience, that the effectiveness of anti-depressants has been over-hyped.
In fact, the study, reported on today in The Wall Street Journal, goes even further, claiming pharmaceutical companies exaggerated the effectiveness of 12 popular anti-depressants including Paxil, Effexor, and Zoloft, by publishing the results of positive clinical trials, while suppressing the results of negative clinical trials.
FOX Business anchor David Asman interviewed the study’s author, Erick Turner last night.
DAVID ASMAN, FOX BUSINESS ANCHOR: What a bombshell, Dr. Turner. How did you find out about all this?
DR. ERICK TURNER, AUTHOR OF NEJM STUDY: Well, we used FDA review documents. I used to be an FDA reviewer and used these documents which I knew contained information on not only published — trials that were published, but also unpublished studies as well.
KENNEDY: And Turner also found that when a negative study was published, the negative parts of the study were simply left out. But an industry lobbying group called Turner’s report incomplete. Pharma found that its authors neglected to mention the fact that industry and government have already taken proactive steps to make clinical trial information transparent and accessible, meaning negative trials may be available on company Web sites.
But Turner points out most doctors get their information from reading medical journals and he says those journals have given doctors a skewed view about the effectiveness of anti-depressants.
MICHAELS: There are no long-term studies on the safety or efficacy of any of these drugs. They are very dangerous.
KENNEDY: Lynn says she has now designed a program to help fellow sufferers wean off anti-depressants. That program, she says, can be found at her Web site, ssriresearch.com. She cautions however that no one should try to get off anti-depressants cold turkey. She says, John and Heather, it’s very important to wean off slowly.
GIBSON: Douglas, this anti-depressant scandal, aren’t, in fact, many people helped by these drugs?
KENNEDY: You know, that is a question that will certainly be debated for years to come, but where we can all agree is that people should have the information about the drugs before they start taking them, accurate, truthful information which they have not been getting.
NAUERT: Douglas, you and some others are saying that the pharmaceutical companies suppressed information.
KENNEDY: This study says they did.
NAUERT: Negative information, suicide rates, too?
KENNEDY: The suicide — absolutely. That’s where we start. These drugs — nobody knows up until now that these drugs actually increased the risk of suicide in clinical trials. They gave people placebo and they gave people the drug and the people that were taking the drug wanted to commit suicide at a far greater rate than the people who were taking a sugar pill.
NAUERT: Who were depressed and were taking the sugar pill.
KENNEDY: Yes. The other stuff that they have suppressed is that they increased violent tendencies and that when some people start taking them, they can never ever get off them, which means they are sentenced to a life of being completely disassociated from their bodies and their inner emotional life.
GIBSON: Douglas Kennedy, Douglas, thanks a lot, we’ll talk to you later as this develops.
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