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Antidepressants increase the risks of suicidal behavior
Doctors are prescribing more antidepressants for children and adolescents although there is little evidence about their safety or efficacy in youngsters, researchers said on Thursday. Prescription rates for young patients under 18 years old rose in nine countries in Europe, North America and South America between 2000-2002. Britain had the highest rate of increase with 68 percent while Germany, with 13 percent, had the lowest. "The number of prescriptions in different countries for children with mental illness is increasing," said Dr Ian Wong of the Center for Pediatric Pharmacy Research at the University of London. Wong and his team compared prescribing trends in Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico by using information from an international database that contains a representative sample of medical practitioners in each country. The findings are reported in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Although Britain had the highest rate of increase, it had a lower baseline than many other countries in the study. Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline Plc was accused in a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer earlier this year of fraudulently suppressing information about its antidepressant Paxil, which is sold as Seroxat in Europe, that showed the drug was broadly ineffective in youngsters and could increase the risks of suicidal behavior, informs Reuters. According to the NEWS, Campaigners demanded yesterday that more psychological therapies be made available on the NHS after a study showed that Britain leads the world in prescribing antidepressants and other mind-altering drugs to children. The number of prescriptions rose in the UK by 68 per cent between 2000 and 2002 before concerns about the drugs' safety, particularly Seroxat, led to official advice to limit their use for young people. Side-effects can include suicidal feelings, anxiety and insomnia. Researchers from the University of London compared Britain to nine countries including France, Germany, Spain, Canada and the US. While increases were recorded in all countries, Britain issued more than five times as many new prescriptions as Germany.
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