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An examination of published studies of 12 widely prescribed antidepressant drugs, approved between 1981 and 2004, showed a discrepancy in results from FDA studies.

Erick Turner, M.D., Medical Director of the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Mood Disorders Program, reviewed the FDA’s trials for 12 widely prescribed antidepressant drugs and compared the result with the literature of the same drugs. They found 94% of the published articles showed positive results, but the FDA data showed only about 51% of the studies were positive. Of the 36 studies that were not positive and in conflict with the FDA’s conclusions, 33 of them were not published or were published as if they were positive.

Turner sees selective publication as potential for misleading doctors and patients to believe drugs are more effective than they really are, which can influence prescribing decisions. He also cautions that negative studies does not mean the antidepressants are ineffective. A meta-analysis showed that the antidepressants were superior to a placebo. However, based on FDA data, the antidepressants are less effective than it would appear from the published literature.