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Technology and Health News > Sunday, March-02-2008

Prozac? Placebo!

A survey published on PloS Medicine considers the effects of "the happiness pill clinically nonexistent". And in Great Britain this survey resulted in an outbreak of controversy.

Prozac, the antidepressant Seroxat and in general antidepressants do not produce clinically significant benefits. It had the effect of an earthquake relationship. Irving Kirsch, director of the psychology department of Hull University, which - published in the online journal PloS Medicine - assess the outcomes of total 47 studies (known and unpublished) of British and American experts on the real effects of "happiness pill", Prozac.

Printed immediately on the front pages of major British newspapers, The Guardian and The Independent Times immediately attacked by the pharmaceutical companies concerned. The study argues that this type of medicines - given annually by more than 40 million people around the world -- found minimal improvements compared to the simple placebo, amounting to just two points on the Hamilton depression scale (comprising 51 points total). Findings for fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Efexor), paroxetine (Seroxat) and similar molecules have been put on the market, but which do not reach the three points needed by the British National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice) to recognize their significant clinical differences .

The authorization granted by commercial Nice was based, rather, on experimental data that declared broader therapeutic effects. "According to our results, however, doesn't seem to be a real reason to prescribe these drugs unless people suffering from forms of depression particularly acute and only in case of failure of other alternative therapies," says Kirsch, who concludes: "You can cure these diseases without the need to resort to chemical treatments. "

The study - which was presented at the Food and Drug Administration, the American health authority, deputed to verification and approval of medical devices - thus raising strong questions about how they are granted permissions for these medicines. According to the Independent, the verification indicted the multinational pharmaceutical companies, which are accused of manipulating data of experiments.

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