Doctors and the public may have been misled about the effectiveness of antidepressant drugs. They have both been victims of spin that researchers have put on their findings in order to present the drugs in the best possible light.
Sometimes poor results have been suppressed, while even those that have been published have claimed the drug is far more effective than the findings suggest, new research has discovered.
In virtually every case, the drug trial has been paid for by the manufacturer, researchers from Oregon Health and Science University found.
They analysed 74 separate trials into antidepressant drugs that had been registered with America's Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Of these, a third was never published, and this was usually because the study discovered the drug was either not effective or was more dangerous than first thought.
Of the trials that were published, 94 per cent of them came up with a positive outcome about the effectiveness of the drug, and yet the FDA's independent analysis of the same trials concluded that just half were positive.
(Source: New England Journal of Medicine, 2008; 358: 252-60).