Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Prozac pills for children

Children as young as eight should be given Prozac to help battle depression, an EU drugs watchdog has ruled.

The benefits of taking the drug outweigh the potential risks, the European Medicines Agency said. But parents and doctors were warned to watch youngsters for 'suicidal behaviour'.

It means that Prozac could be licensed for treating children in Britain for the by September.

The decision was condemned by some children's welfare groups.

Lynette Burrows, of the educational trust Family and Youth Concern, said: 'It is disastrous to start children on powerful drugs as early as eight – they will become dependent.'

But Avis Johns, of the mental health charity YoungMinds, disagreed.

'There may be circumstances where psychological treatment alone is not effective for the child,' he said.

Prozac is part of a group of drugs that includes the antidepressant Seroxat, which was banned for use in British children after it was linked to a number of suicides.

Janice Simmons, of the Seroxat Users Group, criticised the decision. She added: 'I think all drugs in this category are dangerous, especially in children.'

Lilly UK, the company which makes Prozac, said: 'With any medicine, there are risks and benefits.'

Prozac is prescribed to more than 38million people worldwide and has been one of the pharmaceutical industry's biggest success stories.

According to the Office of National Statistics, 79,410 five to 16-year-olds were defined as suffering from serious depression last year.

Source: Metro

Commet by Mr Paul P Fletcher, Executive Director Citizens Commission On Human Rights, London:

Like most the majority of responsible adults, I agree that this is sending all the wrong messages to children as to how they can best deal with life's everyday differculties. How the Europen Medical Agency arrived at this decision defies all reasoning, intelligence and common sense. Prozac has been proven time after time to cause suicide which has often included school shootings by teenagers suffering from the side-effects of such highly potent and addictive psychotropic drugs. Its about time Psychiatry came clean of the fact that these drugs are simply cause more problems to a greater or lesser extent, and do not cure anything. Off course the pharmaceutical companies "success" is usually measured in profits not cures. And this decision at the EU level can be seen as yet another success achieved by their strong lobbying pressence in Brussels.

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