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The furor over antidepressants

Rating

4 Star

The furor over antidepressants

Our Review Summary

This story reports on an FDA panel's recommendation to extend the black-box warning on suicide risk for anti-depressants to young adults ages 18 to 24. The current warning only applies to children and adolescents under the age of 18. This story does a good job of explaining why the panel is recommending this warning and also describing some of the controversy around the decision.

Although the story does mention that antidepressants were associated with four extra "suicidal events" per 1,000 people treated with antidepressants, the story should have provided more context for these numbers. For example, what is the suicide risk in depressives who are not treated with antidepressants?

The story describes the suicide risk from antidepressants at length. The story should have mentioned other side effects of antidepressants such as nausea, sleep disturbance or interactions with other medications. Because the story quotes multiple independent sources, the reader can assume the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Although the story mentions psychotherapy as an alternative, the story should have provided more content on the pluses and minuses of therapy relative to medication.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

Because this story reports on harms of antidepressants, a discussion of costs is not necessarily applicable.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story does mention that antidepressants were associated with four extra "suicidal events" per 1,000 people treated with antidepressants, the story should have provided more context for these numbers. For example, what is the suicide risk in depressives who are not treated with antidepressants? Anecdotes about benefits are given, but not enough data.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story describes the suicide risk from antidepressants at length. The story should have mentioned other side effects of antidepressants such as nausea, sleep disturbance or interactions with other medications.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

The story adequately describes the analysis the FDA did in issuing the warning. The story also quotes a lawyer who criticizes the analysis.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of depression.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story quotes multiple independent sources who have differing opinions and perspectives.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story mentions psychotherapy as an alternative, the story should have provided more content on the advantages and disadvantages of therapy relative to medication.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

Availability not specifically addressed in article – but widely available in U.S. and didn't need to be addressed.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Clearly antidepressants are not new.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes multiple independent sources, the reader can assume the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 6 of 8 Satisfactory

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