Fourteen years ago, a leading drug maker published a study showing that the antidepressant Paxil was safe and effective for teenagers. On Wednesday, a major medical journal posted a new analysis of the same data concluding that the opposite is true.
That study — featured prominently by the journal BMJ — is a clear break from scientific custom and reflects a new era in scientific publishing, some experts said, opening the way for journals to post multiple interpretations of the same experiment. It comes at a time of self-examination across science — retractions are at an all-time high and this month researchers reported that less than half of a sample of psychology papers held up.
Over the years, thousands of people taking or withdrawing from Paxil or other psychiatric drugs have committed violent acts, including suicide, experts said, though no firm statistics are available. Because many factors could have contributed to that behavior, it is still far from clear who’s at risk.
The maker of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline, said it stood by the original conclusions, given what was known at the time. The company also noted that it had provided all the data for the new analysis, “an unprecedented level of data sharing that speaks to our absolute commitment to transparency.”