Dying for a cure

Okay, so sometimes drugs have side effects. To get the cure you’re after you may have to put up with a little dry mouth, sweaty palms, itchy scalp, even nausea. But suicide?

The BOSTON GLOBE reports that Dr. Jonathan O. Cole, a Harvard psychiatrist, is criticizing drug companies and the Food and Drug Administration for failing to take seriously the possibility that, in a small percentage of cases, antidepressants can actually lead to suicide in patients with no prior history of self-slaying thoughts. Testifying in a suit charging that the drug Zoloft caused a 13-year-old boy to kill himself, Cole said he and other researchers suggested the possible link a decade ago. So far, however, no maker of these drugs has done a serious study to confirm, deny, or measure the incidence of antidepressant-induced suicide. With more than 84 million prescriptions a year for this family of drugs, even a rare side effect can add up to significant numbers.