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This weekly column offers opinions on the latest pharmaceutical industry news.

Some people can keep secrets much better than others. Among them are the folks who run the world’s biggest drug companies. For years, they have sequestered clinical trial data containing precious information about their medicines. But a recent development might accelerate efforts to bring about greater transparency.

Last week, in an unusual look behind the pharmaceutical curtain, a team of researchers released an independent analysis of trial data from a 1990s-era study of the Paxil antidepressant in teenagers. And what they found is, well, depressing.


Their conclusion contradicts the upbeat claims the pill was safe and effective for youngsters. Yet, GlaxoSmithKline, the company behind Paxil (known generically as paroxetine), touted the original findings as a marketing tool to persuade physicians to write more prescriptions, even though the medicine was not approved to treat teens at the time. All the while, concerns began to grow that Paxil and similar antidepressants were tied to suicidal behavior in this age group.

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