Posted by Deborah Pujoue on April 9, 2012
In what can only be viewed as irony, the halt in the development of a novel antidepressant — caused when the researchers realized that the drugs being considered aren’t groundbreaking in comparison to pills that are already on the market — seems to have depressed drug makers hoping to create the next big thing in antidepressant treatments.
Why are the drugmakers depressed? According to information from Thomson Reuters Pharma, research shows that the returns for pharmaceutical companies vying for power in the antidepressant market are completely plummeting. This is happening despite the fact that popular antidepressants like Prozac’s patents are due to expire and that newer drugs are failing in the marketplace. This failure is causing some drug makers to completely give up on the creation of new brands of antidepressants. Some people believe that this is because antidepressants have proven to be a very frustrating drug to deal with in terms of both efficacy (studies show they are not any more effective than placebos) and side effects. Research has repeatedly shown that antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa and Paxil cause birth defects in babies exposed to the drugs in-utero. Some of those birth defects include PPHN, oral clefts, neural tube defects and spina bifida.
While drug makers’ time and money may be better spent on creating cancer treatments, there are some in the field that think the timing for backing out of antidepressants is a bad one. For example, researchers that basically study the brain believe that knowledge of the brain’s basic make-up in terms of depression and other mental disorders is currently moving forward in huge strides that are ripe for researchers to create better drugs in the future.
“It’s a great time for brain science, but at the same time a poor time for drug discovery for brain disorders,” says David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London. “That’s an amazing paradox which we need to do something about.”
I don’t know if I agree with that, but for those people who insist on taking prescription medications to treat their depression, it would be nice to see some meds that don’t have such harsh side effects.