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Warning over anti-depressants for kids

Published on 14/12/2004

14 December 2004

BRUSSELS – The European medicines agency has warned that adolescents should not be given anti-depressants as they risk a rise in suicidal behaviour.

Ten thousand Belgian children are currently on this type of medication.

The agency, which took months to deliver its ruling, has now said that this age group should either be denied anti-depressants altogether or be strictly supervised when taking them.

The Belgian medicines department over the next few days will be issuing advice to the medical profession based on the agency conclusions.

The most prescribed third generation antidepressants have never been authorised anywhere in Europe for treating children or adolescents.

Antidepressants are currently prescribed at the doctors own discretion but the Belgian ministry of health says it wants to tighten this procedure to avoid future dramas.

Drugs should only be administered in “extremely strict conditions and ideally accompanied by psychiatric help,” it said in a statement.

Of the 7-10 000 under-20 year olds currently on antidepressants in Belgium, it is unsure whether they are also being given psychiatric treatment.

According to the medical agency, among the children on the drugs, “there is a higher risk of suicidal behaviour, with suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts and/or behaviour linked to it, such as self-mutilation, hostility and mood swings.”

For the children already taking the drugs, a gradual reduction in dosage has been recommended rather than a sudden cut which could produce withdrawal symptoms.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news