Drug Safety

Written by Tara Peris
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Recently, newspaper headlines have been dominated by concerns about drug safety. In particular, there has been increased worry about the use of psychotropic medications with children, prompting public health officials, medical practitioners, and concerned parents to lobby for political reform. Although clearly of paramount importance, these efforts to promote drug safety for children are not as straightforward as they might seem.

The primary concerns are simple. Recent reports suggest that antidepressant medications like Prozac or Paxil can actually serve to increase the risk of suicide in children and adolescents. The issue has become a hotbed of political controversy and finger pointing as people seek to understand how this drug safety risk has remained hidden for years. There are a number of things that have contributed to the problem.

Establishing Prescription Drug Safety for Children

First, it is remarkably difficult to conduct medication research trials with children. Few universities and drug companies want the risk associated with these important endeavors. A lack of general research on how drugs work for children is exacerbated by the selective publication of clinical trial results. Not surprisingly, drug companies only publish the results that are favorable to their products. After, the back lash of the media some of the larger drug companies like Pfizer have decided to publish their research in the web.

These issues contribute to a poor understanding of how children respond to psychoactive medication. Although we have moved past simply extrapolating from research with adults, we are a long way from understanding how these medications affect children. Drug safety for children will be contingent upon comprehensive, rigorous scientific research.

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