Scott Hensley of NPR’s health blog, Shots, writes:
“…odds are the drug reboxetine would be Greek to you.
The Pfizer antidepressant, never approved in the U.S., has been available in many European countries since 1997. Even so, the medicine, which zeroes in on the chemical norepinephrine in the brain, hasn’t been a big hit.
Now we’re getting a deeper look from German researchers at why that may be. An analysis just published by BMJ, the British Medical Journal, pans reboxetine, calling it “an ineffective and potentially harmful antidepressant.”
Perhaps the most disturbing part of the report is that three-quarters of the clinical test data the German researchers examined had never been published. Pfizer made the data available only after “massive public pressure,” said the researchers, affiliated with the nonprofit Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care.
After the previously unseen data on more than 3,000 patients were added to the mix, the researchers found reboxetine wasn’t effective for treating major depression and had more side effects than a placebo or Prozac.
In a statement, the German group said, “when the results concealed up to now were included, the effect of reboxetine (marketed under the trade name Edronax) became so small that patients did not benefit from the drug, meaning that it is useless.” The researchers say their experience with reboxetine underscores the need for mandatory public reporting of the results from clinical tests of pharmaceuticals.”