Antidepressant Use Doubles in UK in Past Decade, Even Greater Increase Last Year

But tonight doctors warned that some people are being
put on the drugs unnecessarily, especially those with milder symptoms of
depression, partly because there is too little access to “talking therapies”,
which use discussion rather than drugs to tackle problems.

“I’m concerned that too many people are being
prescribed antidepressants and not being given counselling and cognitive
behaviour therapy, because access to those therapies, while it is improving, is
still patchy,” said Professor Steve Field, the chairman of the Royal College of
General Practitioners, which represents the UK‘s family doctors.

“More people are being diagnosed with depression, but
many of them would be treated better by having access to talking therapies,
especially those with mild to moderate depression. I’m concerned that these
people are being treated with medication unnecessarily,” he added.

GPs felt “cornered” into giving patients
antidepressants because of a lack of alternatives, he said.

“Talking therapies are just a good [as medication]
for treating mild depression, and CBT can be just as good for more serious
depression. But the provision for these therapies hasn’t been good,” said Field.
However, more GPs were gaining more of a choice between tablets and talking
treatments, he said.

Antidepressant use rises as recession feeds wave of worry

Prescriptions have doubled in decade,
NHS figures show, with doctors warning drugs are covering for counselling
shortage

Seroxat antidepressant pills.
Seroxat [Paxil] antidepressant pills.
Photograph: Jack Sullivan/Alamy

The number of antidepressants prescribed by the NHS
has almost doubled in the last decade, and rose sharply last year as the
recession bit, figures reveal.

The health service issued 39.1m prescriptions for drugs to tackle depression in England in 2009, compared
with 20.1m in 1999 – a 95% jump. Doctors handed out 3.18m more prescriptions
last year than in 2008, almost twice the annual rise seen in preceding years,
according to previously unpublished statistics released by the NHS’s Business
Services Authority.

The increase is thought to be due in part to improved
diagnosis, reduced stigma around mental ill-health and rising worries about jobs
and finances triggered by the economic downturn.

But tonight doctors warned that some people are being
put on the drugs unnecessarily, especially those with milder symptoms of
depression, partly because there is too little access to “talking therapies”,
which use discussion rather than drugs to tackle problems.

“I’m concerned that too many people are being
prescribed antidepressants and not being given counselling and cognitive
behaviour therapy, because access to those therapies, while it is improving, is
still patchy,” said Professor Steve Field, the chairman of the Royal College of
General Practitioners, which represents the UK‘s family doctors.

“More people are being diagnosed with depression, but
many of them would be treated better by having access to talking therapies,
especially those with mild to moderate depression. I’m concerned that these
people are being treated with medication unnecessarily,” he added.

GPs felt “cornered” into giving patients
antidepressants because of a lack of alternatives, he said.

“Talking therapies are just a good [as medication]
for treating mild depression, and CBT can be just as good for more serious
depression. But the provision for these therapies hasn’t been good,” said Field.
However, more GPs were gaining more of a choice between tablets and talking
treatments, he said.

Peter Byrne, the director of public education at the
Royal College of Psychiatrists, whose 12,450 members include the UK‘s 6,300
consultant psychiatrists, echoed Field’s concern. It said it was unsurprising
that prescriptions were rising after a decade of investment in mental health services. “The optimistic view is that
more people are being uncovered and treated. My concern is that people with mild
depression should not be put on antidepressants,” he said.

Consultant psychiatrist Tim Kendall, director of the
National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, which drafts NHS guidance on
the drugs, said: “Antidepressants are offered too frequently in primary care
because the waiting lists for alternative treatments are too long. Doctors need
to think hard about putting people on these drugs because they can be hard to
get off and have significant side-effects.”

The NHS does not record how many people take
antidepressants, but up to one in six people suffers from some form of
depression during their life. The recession has produced greater demand for NHS
help with mental health problems.

In 2009 all of us – whether we work in general
practice, general hospitals or specialist services – are seeing an increase in

referrals from the recession. The stresses of the downturn are the last straw
for many people,” said Byrne.

The Labour government invested hundreds of millions
of pounds in “talking therapies”, in an effort to help jobless people with
chronic problems get back into work and couples negotiate relationship
difficulties. The Lib-Con coalition has promised to continue prioritising such
treatments. But Byrne disputed claims about long waiting times.

The falling cost of antidepressants may have an
effect. Ten years ago each prescription cost £16, but this has fallen to just £6
today, which means the NHS spend has fallen, from £315m in 1999 to £230m last

year.

Dr Hugh Griffiths, the government’s mental health
tsar, said that while the causes of, and risk factors for, depression were
complex “the recession can have an impact. A rise in prescriptions might also
reflect a greater awareness and willingness to seek support and better diagnosis
by GPs”.

“Psychological therapies, which can be offered
alongside or as an alternative to medication, provide choice in treatment. We
are closely looking at how we can improve access”, said Griffiths.

A survey in March for the mental health charity Mind,
which asked people if they had sought help for work-related stress since the
downturn began, found 7% had begun medical treatment for depression and 5% had
started counselling.

A spokeswoman for Mind, Alison Cobb, said the fact
antidepressants are now licensed for use in a wider range of conditions, such as
social anxiety and post traumatic stress, was also a
factor.

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SSRI Birth Defects: Glaxo must pay $2.5M in Paxil case

The verdict is the first in 600 cases alleging that
London-based Glaxo knew Paxil caused birth defects and hid those risks to boost
profits.

The drug, approved for U.S. use in 1992, generated about $942
million in sales last year, 2.1 percent of Glaxo‘s total revenue.

Michelle David had claimed that her 3-year-old son Lyam Kilker
suffered life-threatening heart defects because she took Paxil while she was
pregnant with him.

Posted on Tue, Oct.
13, 2009

Glaxo must pay $2.5M in Paxil case

By Miriam Hill

INQUIRER STAFF WRITER

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. must pay $2.5 million to settle a
claim that its Paxil antidepressant caused severe heart defects in a
3-year-old Bensalem boy, a Philadelphia common pleas jury ruled
today.

The verdict is the first in 600 cases alleging that
London-based Glaxo knew Paxil caused birth defects and hid those risks to
boost profits.

The drug, approved for U.S. use in 1992, generated about $942
million in sales last year, 2.1 percent of Glaxo‘s total
revenue.

London-based Glaxo has major operations in the Philadelphia
region.

Michelle David had claimed that her 3-year-old son Lyam
Kilker suffered life-threatening heart defects because she took Paxil while
she was pregnant with him.

Glaxo issued a statement saying it disagrees with the verdict
and will appeal.

“While we sympathize with Lyam Kilker and his family, the
scientific evidence does not establish that exposure to Paxil during pregnancy
caused his condition. Very unfortunately, birth defects occur in three to five
percent of all live births, whether or not the mother was taking medication
during pregnancy,” the company’s statement said.

David and Kilker’s lawyers, Sean Tracey of Houston and Jamie
Sheller of the Philadelphia firm Sheller P.C., argued that Glaxo withheld
information from consumers and regulators about the risk of birth defects and
failed to properly test Paxil.

“The first win is always huge, especially when you get a jury
saying the drug caused the injury,” Sean Tracey, Kilker’s lawyer, told
Bloomberg in an interview after the jury reached its decision.

Glaxo‘s lawyer, Chilton Varner of King & Spalding in
Atlanta, countered that the company reported any sign of problems to federal
authorities. She had accused Tracey of cherry-picking sentences from
documents.

During the trial, she also noted that Kilker, who underwent
several surgeries to fix his heart problems today “has no cardiac symptoms . .
.. is at preschool and runs and walks like an [almost] 4-year-old
should.”

In its statement today, Glaxo said it “acted properly and
responsibly in conducting its clinical trial program for Paxil, including
sharing documentation and submitting results from studies on Paxil to
regulators.”

Kilker will require more surgeries as he
grows.

David was a former cheerleader for the Philadelphia
76ers.

The case was heard by Judge Stephen Levin in Common Pleas
Court.

The FDA initially classified Paxil as a drug with no known
connections to birth defects. In 2005, the agency reclassified it as a drug
with some evidence of human fetal risk but allowed doctors to continue
prescribing it to women of childbearing age if the benefits outweigh the
risks.


Contact staff writer Miriam Hill at 215-854-5520 or hillmb@phillynews.com.

This story contains information from Bloomberg
News.

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PAXIL: Road Rage Death: Woman Drives on Wrong Side of Freeway: No Alcoh…

Note from Ann Blake-Tracy: Why are police still looking for the reason why she
was driving the wrong way on the freeway when they already know she was on
Paxil? A large number of these cases of driving the wrong way on the freeway
involve these antidepressants.
__________________________________________________________

Paragraph one reads: "A Monroeville woman who died in a crash while
driving the wrong way on the Pennsylvania Turnpike was awaiting trial on two
cases involving drugged driving, according to court records."

Paragraphs eight and nine read: "Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning
had issued an arrest warrant for Baker because she failed to appear July 15
for a hearing on drugged driving charges filed in April by Monroeville
police. Baker was found at 1:39 a.m. April 26 in a sport utility vehicle that
was hanging over the edge of a hillside, according to a police affidavit."

"Baker was incoherent and unable to pass three field sobriety tests but
there was no noticeable odor of alcohol on her breath, the affidavit says.
She told the officer she was on Paxil, an antidepressant."

_http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_634872.htm
l_
(http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/pittsburgh/s_634872.html)

By _Brian Bowling
_ (mailto:bbowling@tribweb.com)
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Monroeville woman who died in a crash while driving the wrong way on the
Pennsylvania Turnpike was awaiting trial on two cases involving drugged
driving, according to court records.

Andrea Baker, 36, died Tuesday night after striking two east-bound
tractor-trailers near Monroeville as she drove her sport utility vehicle
west-bound, state police said.

Her son, Aiden Baker, 2, who was strapped into a child seat in the SUV,
escaped with a bruised left cheek, police said.

The Allegheny Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Baker’s death accidental and
concluded she died from blunt force trauma to the abdomen and legs.
Toxicology results will be available in three to four months, a medical examiner
said.

The truck drivers were not injured.

State police are still investigating why Baker was traveling in the wrong
direction. A toll ticket found in her vehicle shows that she may have
entered the turnpike at the Allegheny Valley interchange.

Court records show Baker was cited twice in the last year for driving in
the wrong lane. Other citations from police in Pittsburgh, Springdale, East
Deer, West Deer, Tarentum, North Versailles and Edgewood include careless
driving, reckless driving, running a stop sign and ignoring a traffic
control device.

Allegheny County Judge Jeffrey Manning had issued an arrest warrant for
Baker because she failed to appear July 15 for a hearing on drugged driving
charges filed in April by Monroeville police. Baker was found at 1:39 a.m.
April 26 in a sport utility vehicle that was hanging over the edge of a
hillside, according to a police affidavit.

Baker was incoherent and unable to pass three field sobriety tests but
there was no noticeable odor of alcohol on her breath, the affidavit says. She
told the officer she was on Paxil, an antidepressant.

Monroeville police charged Baker with drugged driving again on May 6 after
another motorist called because her sport utility vehicle was weaving.
Baker slurred her words and her eyes had a dazed look, but there was no odor
of alcohol, the police affidavit says. She failed three field sobriety tests.

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