Sunday, June 20, 2004

"Emotional Lability"

I should stop reading the New York Times - it's just bad for my blood pressure.

Today's NYT insanity: 'emotional lability'.

Definitions of labile:

1. Open to change; adaptable: an emotionally labile person.

2. From chemistry: Constantly undergoing or likely to undergo change; unstable: a labile compound

From the New York Times today

Those children taking Paxil were reported by Glaxo-Smith-Kline's own data as follows:
In GlaxoSmithKline's trials, depressed young people given Paxil fared no better than those given placebos. It was a disappointing result for GlaxoSmithKline but had no effect on its application for the six-month extension. Still, a reviewer at the Food and Drug Administration noticed something strange about the trials: teenagers given Paxil suffered more problems of 'emotional lability,' or instability, than those given a placebo.

The reviewer, Dr. Andrew Mosholder, thought 'emotional lability' was overly broad. He asked the company to resubmit its data, this time using a separate category for suicide.

That report, given in May to both American and British health authorities, was alarming. Teenagers and younger children given Paxil were much more likely to become suicidal than those given placebos. In June, both the British and American authorities warned doctors against prescribing Paxil to youngsters. Worried that the problem could extend far beyond Paxil, the F.D.A. in July asked the makers of eight other antidepressants to submit data from their studies in youngsters.

So, now that the cat is out of the bag on the fact that children given paxil are twice as likely to have suicidal tendencies - and that there is NO BENEFIT beyond the placebo effect for the kids - the drug companies are retrenching. They are asking Columbia University to go through the data again and re-classify the "suicidal tendencies" so the drug will come up "clean" in the revised study.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is not at all convinced this is a good thing - Give 'em hell Charlie!

Some emotional lability is a good thing. One should not be stuck in grief if one is at a birthday party or a wedding. That's mis-emotional. One should not be stuck in cheerfulness when someone close to you dies. One should be able to move on the emotional tone scale, as appropriate. (The sci-fi movie, "Equilibrium" does a good job portraying a society where everyone is required to take their drugs at specified times during the day so they never feel anything.)

Too much emotional lability is a bad thing. One should not slide wildly from exhilaration to despair to grief to apathy to rage because of ingested chemicals--whether those chemicals are angel dust supplied by the corner drug dealer, or those supplied by Glaxo-Smith-Kline and cheerfully handed you by your neighborhood pharmacist.

The kids at Columbine who shot up the school and killed themselves were on psych drugs at the time. And there are many more instances of children NOT ONLY going suicidal on these drugs, but taking their fellows with them.

If you have kids taking Paxil - get them OFF! Re-defining "suicidal tendencies" as "emotional lability" is just the latest attempt of Glaxo to wiggle off the hook.

Related articles:

NY Times (free subscription required)
SF Gate - a well done satire.

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