Antidepressant sales are way down after the drugs were found to increase the risk of suicide, especially among children - and now the manufacturers are offering unrestricted 'grants' to try and win back doctors.
Since warnings about the drugs were made in 2003, prescriptions for SSRI antidepressants have fallen by around 40 per cent. Doctors have also become more reluctant to diagnose depression in the first place, with 44 per cent fewer cases being reported among children aged between five and 18 years.
Researchers from the University of Colorado's Denver School of Medicine, who have tracked the downturn in diagnosis and prescriptions in the USA, say the new figures are an "unintended and persistent change" following the suicide warning. They say that a new policy is needed to counter the drop-off in prescriptions and diagnosis.
The researchers also reveal they have received "unrestricted research grants" from drug manufacturers - so it seems that Big Pharma is prepared to spend in order to win back its market.
(Source: Archives of General Psychiatry, 2009; 66: 633-9).