Proprietary data analysis: suicidality and antidepressants
Researchers used meta-analyses to look for a link
- By: Helen Macdonald
Concern about an increased risk of suicide when taking antidepressant drugs emerged in 1991 and was discussed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a body that oversees the safety of drugs and medical devices. At that time the FDA did not have enough evidence to answer the question accurately. Instead, they added a statement about possible risk of suicide to labelling. The authors explain this in the introduction of the long version of their paper on bmj.com, where they set out the rationale for their study.
Since 1991 evidence has accumulated. From 2003 the FDA looked at data from paediatric trials and concluded that there was an increased risk of suicide in children. But there was not a clear picture of risk in adults. In part this was because individual trials did not include enough people to decide for certain.
The authors of the current study asked,