GlaxoSmithKline drug side effects up after TV programme
14 February 2006 00:00 in Company product news
A series of current affairs programmes about GlaxoSmithKline's antidepressant drug Seroxat (paroxetine) were followed by a sudden increase in the number of adverse reactions reported by UK doctors, researchers have shown.
Reports to British doctors about the drug rose by 61 per cent after three editions of the BBC's Panorama explored concerns about the drug.
The first of the trio of Panorama programmes was prompted by concerns about paroxetine expressed in 2002 by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Some people who had stopped taking the drug seemed to be experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, and there were reports of a link between paroxetine and suicidal behaviour.
Panorama, which is the BBC's flagship current affairs programme, investigated these concerns and broadcast programmes on the subject in October 2002, May 2003 and October 2004.
A research team from Bristol University examined prescribing patterns and adverse drug reports for paroxetine and found the programmes had a significant effect on reports of adverse reactions to the drug.
Lead author Dr Richard Martin said: "In the months before and after the three Panorama programmes were aired, adverse reports went up from 8.3 to 13.4 per 100,000 prescriptions.
"Our analysis of adverse drug reports made by doctors suggests that negative publicity, particularly the three Panorama programmes, were associated with marked, short-term peaks in reporting."
The five regulatory announcements made about paroxetine in the UK during the same period resulted in a much smaller five per cent increase in reports of adverse reactions, the researchers report in British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
But the team points out that the effect of the programme was short term, arguing this demonstrates the need for continued efforts to improve the way adverse drug reactions to widely prescribed drugs are monitored.
Panorama, which was first broadcast in 1953, it is the longest-running public affairs television programme in the world. It has won a plethora of awards, including the Mental Health Media Award in 2003 for its first programme on paroxetine. © Adfero Ltd
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