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Med Care. 2010 Nov;48(11):947-54. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3181ef9d2b.

Impact of the 2004 Food and Drug Administration pediatric suicidality warning on antidepressant and psychotherapy treatment for new-onset depression.

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Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research, School of Pharmacy, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD, USA.



To assess the national impact of the March 2004 Food and Drug Administration (FDA) antidepressant suicidality warning on the outpatient treatment of new-onset depression in youth.


A repeated measures, longitudinal design in a cohort of youth diagnosed with new-onset depression was used to assess pre- and post-FDA warning effects. US commercial insurance enrollees in the i3 INNOVUS database from January 2003 through December 2006 were examined. The study population included youth 2- to 17-years old with a new-onset depression diagnosis from July 2003 through June 2006 (N = 40,309). The main independent variables were the warning period (post- vs. pre-FDA warning) and age group (children vs. adolescents). The main outcome measures were youth with antidepressant dispensings and psychotherapy visits measured in 30-day intervals across 36 months following a new-onset diagnosis of any depressive disorder (N = 40,309) and specifically major depressive disorder (MDD) (N = 11,532).


Compared to youth with a new-onset diagnosis of depression in the pre-FDA warning period, youth with new-onset diagnosis of depression during the postwarning period had (1) A significantly lower likelihood of antidepressant use: (odds ratio [OR] = 0.85 [0.81-0.89]); When youth with the diagnosis of depression were separated into those with MDD and those with less severe depression diagnoses, only the latter had a significant postwarning antidepressant decline. (2) A significant increase in the odds of a psychotherapy visit (children, OR = 1.31 [1.23-1.40]; adolescents OR = 1.19 [1.15-1.24]).


The FDA suicidality warning was associated with an overall decrease in antidepressant treatment for youth with a clinician-reported diagnosis of depression, but not for those with MDD. Also, following the warning, psychotherapy without medication increased.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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