Pediatric antidepressant use drops 18 percent

After an FDA advisory committee called for stronger warnings to health care providers that some children and teenagers can become suicidal when prescribed antidepressants, the percentage of eligible patients taking these agents dropped considerably. Medco Health Solutions reports an 18 percent decrease in the number of pediatric patients taking an antidepressant in the first quarter of 2004, and an additional 5 percent decrease in the second quarter, contrasting sharply with a general increase in 2002 and 2003.

The decrease follows the FDA's October 2003 Public Health Advisory that reported risks of suicide (including suicidal ideation and suicide attempts) in children being treated with certain antidepressants for major depressive disorder, according to the Medco data.

"Information that linked antidepressant use and suicide among teenagers started coming out last year," says Ann Smith, a spokeswoman for Medco. "It takes time for prescribing habits to change. In addition, patients can have a 60-day and 90-day supply."

"Prescribing patterns tend to evolve slowly," says Robert Epstein, MD, Medco's chief medical officer. "The dramatic and almost immediate impact of the heightened scrutiny given to children taking these medicines to combat their depression shows that the medical community can respond quickly to new information."

Antidepressant use begins downward slide in 2003–2004


Career Opportunities

HAP, a subsidiary of Henry Ford Health System, is a nonprofit health plan providing coverage to individuals, companies and organizations. This executive develops strategies to meet membership and revenue targets through products, pricing, market segmentation and advertising.  Aligns business among Business Development, Commercial Sales, Medicare and Public Sector Programs and Product Development. Seeks to enhance and be responsible for business development and expansion through the development of an effective product portfolio, strong interpersonal relationships and service excellence.

Apply via email to or online at

Subscribe to Our Newsletters

Monthly table of contents

Be notified as each issue of Managed Care is available online.

Biweekly newsletter

Recent topics have included:

PTCommunity news

New drug approvals, clinical trials, drug management. Three times per week.


Managed Care
By Peter Wehrwein
Managed Care
By Howard Wolinsky