A drug which could cause suicidal depression has been licenced by the American Food and Drug Administration to treat multiple sclerosis.
The drug, interferon beta-1b, distributed by Berlex Laboratories, will be licenced for ambulatory patients with relapsing remitting MS (debilitation comes and goes) to reduce clinical symptoms. It is the first licenced substance to treat MS.
The drug, also among the first to be licenced under the FDA's accelerated approval regulations, was given the green light based on a three year trial which showed that the drug decreased the frequency of symptoms in relapsing remitting patients.
Although the most frequent side effects reported were inflammation and pain at the injection site or flu like symptoms, some patients had serious adverse effects including abnormal liver function tests and severe even suicidal depression. One suicide and four attempted suicides were observed among patients treated. (J Am Med Assoc, 13 October 1993)