Well, this is no good: A new study published this week in The BMJ finds that the commonly prescribed antidepressant Paxil may not actually work to treat depression in teenagers, and it may even cause some real harm, increasing the risk for suicide. The original study on adolescents and paroxetine, the generic name for the drug, was published in 2001 in the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and stated that the drug was safe and effective for use in adolescents with depression — but then again, reports the Washington Post, there is the tiny caveat that it was mostly ghostwritten by someone on the drug manufacturer’s payroll.
Beyond that fact, this new analysis, by Jon Jureidini of the University of Adelaide, reexamined the data used in that original study and came to some very different conclusions. The drug mostly worked no better than a placebo, he found, and in some cases even increased suicidal thoughts or behavior. The new results were so different, in fact, that Jureidini tells the Post, “It’s hard to imagine there wasn’t some mischief being done” in the original study. Seems like there indeed is something to this replication business.