Mental health charity Mind has led calls for an urgent review of
drug licensing laws after the antidepressant Efexor was banned from
use on young people.
The Medicines and Healthcare products
Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced the ban last week after new
research showed there was insufficient evidence of its
effectiveness and increased fears over its side effects.
Compared with a placebo group, those under-18s
being treated for depression with the drug were more likely to
experience harmful outcomes including hostility, suicidal thoughts
and self harm, the study found.
Around 3,000 under-18s are being treated with
the drug, despite it already carrying a warning not to be used on
children. Doctors were entitled to prescribe the drug “off
licence” because, up until now, there had been insufficient
research showing the dangers. This advice will now be strengthened
in light of the findings.
Mind said the case raised “deep
concerns” about the way psychiatric drugs were regulated and
the way clinical trials were carried out, and called for the
government to provide more alternative treatments like cognitive
Efexor is the second anti-depressant to be
banned from use on children, following a ban on Seroxat in