A SYDNEY law firm is preparing to launch a class action against the manufacturers of a range of antidepressants it believes do not issue sufficient warnings about several dangerous side effects, including suicidal thoughts.
Drayton Sher Lawyers has been in contact with dozens of people from across the nation — including many in NSW — who say they were not advised that consuming certain types of SSRI antidepressants would cause them to become aggressive and spark suicidal thoughts.
The class of drugs is used to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders and post-traumatic stress.
They are manufactured by a range of major pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer (Zoloft) and GlaxoSmithKline (Aropax, Paxil), which both declined to comment on the claims when contacted by The Daily Telegraph.
The legal firm says it will argue the drugs were marketed to doctors on the basis of flawed research that downplays the risks of suicide and other serious side effects.
It also claims “selective research” was used to show the medications are effective in treating depression.
Lawyer Tony Nikolic said any compensation would rely on the number of people who joined the action and the nature of their individual cases.
Mr Nikolic said he had been contacted by people all over the country who had been prescribed the drugs, as well as parents concerned about their children’s use.
“We need the community to know about the potential dangers of it,” he said.
It follows a University of Adelaide study, released last month, which found no advantages but some worrying side effects for depressed adolescents taking paroxetine, found in Aropax and Paxil. The research re-examined a previous study, funded by GlaxoSmithKline, which had found paroxetine was safe and effective.
Critical and Ethical Mental Health Research Group Professor Jon Jureidini said: “It wasn’t until the data was made available for re-examination that it became apparent that paroxetine was linked to serious adverse reactions, with 11 of the patients taking paroxetine engaging in suicidal or self-harming behaviours compared with only one person in the group of patients who took the placebo.”
He added: “Our study also revealed that paroxetine was no more effective at relieving the symptoms of depression than a placebo.”