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Study: Paxil Can Aid Depression

September 26, 2000

CHICAGO (AP) _ The antidepressant Paxil appears to ease mild forms of depression in older patients, a study found.

Up to now, some researchers have said there is insufficient evidence to recommend antidepressants for less severe forms of depression.

The study of Paxil, known generically as paroxteine, was published in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association. It was led by Dr. John W. Williams Jr. of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

The researchers studied patients with either dysthymia, a milder form of depression lasting at least two years, or minor depression lasting less than two years. Each affects about 5 percent of adults over 60, and both are slightly more common than major depression in the elderly, Williams said.

Patients age 71 on average were treated with paroxetine, a dummy pill or psychotherapy. Some 338 patients received treatment at four to six sessions for 11 weeks.

Paroxetine patients scored about four to six points better on a test of depressive symptoms and function than the placebo group, and symptoms were reduced more quickly. Therapy and paroxetine were equally effective, while therapy reduced symptoms more quickly than the placebo.

A co-author of the study serves on the speakers bureau at Paxil’s manufacturer, SmithKline Beecham.

An accompanying editorial noted that since the study did not exclude participants with a past history of depression, some of the drug’s benefits may have been in patients with major depression, a condition paroxetine is already known to treat effectively.

None of those studied received both paroxetine and therapy, which could be more effective than the drug alone, the editorial suggested.


On the Net: http://www.jama.ama-assn.org

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