IMAGE DESCRIPTION: An image showing a lady taking a tablet with the title: Panorama - The Antidepressant Story. The Panorama logo (middle) and the ME Association logo (bottom right)

BBC Panorama – The Antidepressant Story

The BBC Panorama programme that aired on June 19 (now available on BBC iplayer) reports on an investigation relating to Antidepressants and the relative lack of evidence regarding efficacy, and the way in which people have not been properly warned about the very significant dangers of withdrawal problems when these drugs are not withdrawn carefully.

Panorama Synopsis

In the UK, around one in seven now take an antidepressant. Globally they have made the pharmaceutical industry billions. When the current generation of drugs was launched 35 years ago, they promised a safe and effective treatment, free from the side effects of older medicines. But have they lived up to those claims? 

While many people say they have benefited from taking them, Panorama reveals evidence of some companies trying to conceal concerns about their drugs, following patients who have suffered serious side effects as they continue their fight to be heard.

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ME Association Comment

“I watched this very good BBC Panorama programme about the way in which drug companies and doctors have over-exaggerated the benefits of antidepressants (and some people do benefit from their use) and not provided proper information on the risks, especially in relation to withdrawal symptoms, over many years.

“Of particular concern was the fact that there have been a significant proportion of clinical trials which have not demonstrated any clinical benefit but were largely buried by the drug companies.

“But it was good to hear a former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists actually apologising to patients for the way in which the antidepressive benefit:risk ratio has not been properly conveyed.

“There are some disturbing overlaps here with what happened with the PACE Trial and the way in which the psychiatrists almost succeeded in persuading everyone that ME/CFS was all due to abnormal illness beliefs and behaviour that could be treated by CBT and GET – according to seriously flawed clinical trials!”

Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and
Hon. Medical Adviser
to the ME Association.
Member of the 2018-2021 NICE Guideline Committee.
Member of the 2002 Independent Working Group on ME/CFS.

Dr Charles Shepherd
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