Biology Magazine

A Perfect Example of Dangerously Innacurate Reporting

By Michaelsweiss
1 in 2 seniors on antidepressants face drug interactions
Resulting side effects caused many to stop their prescription, new study finds 
WASHINGTON — More than half of older Americans taking an antidepressant for the first time were already taking another drug that could interact with it and cause side-effects, researchers reported on Friday.
"The research team used a Thomson Reuters database of claims for Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for people over 65."
"They found more than 39,000 patients who started antidepressants between 2001 and 2006. "Twelve commonly reported antidepressant side effects were identified in the month after drug initiation," Mark's team wrote."
"The side-effects meant patients often dropped the drug they were taking. Only 45 percent of those with documented side-effects refilled the prescription for the same antidepressant and a quarter quit taking antidepressants altogether."
"Many adults are at risk of this problem, the researchers noted — other studies show that 25 percent of older adults with chronic illnesses such as arthritis or heart disease also have depression, and they have also been shown to be helped by antidepressants."
Link to Full Article: Do not read if not capable of critical thinking

Wow, I don't even know where to start.  This is a perfect example of the kind of terrible reporting that leads people to annoyingly quote inaccurate statistics/facts.  I think it's important to point out that this article was published with no author by Reuters, and found on msnbc.comWhile I could rant about the inaccuracy of this article all day; I will restrain myself  to discussing a few of it's major problems.
First, I think it is interesting to notice that the research that this article refers to was performed by Thomson Reuters, parent company of Reuters.  Why do I find this interesting?  Maybe it's because the research was conducted by the same company that wrote and published this article.  I wonder if they stand to gain anything by writing about their own research?   Also, I find it suspicious when an article doesn't provide any information about where to find the original research that it references.
Second, the article isn't clear about the implications of the research that its reporting on.  The author haphazardly uses random quotes/statistics throughout the article to make oversimplified and overgeneralized statements about the use of antidepressants to treat depression in the "senior" population.
My biggest problem with this article is that it has the potential to unnecessarily alarm older readers who may be benefiting from the correct use of antidepressant medication.  It presents vague statements regarding antidepressant side effects, and potential drug interactions without providing any information about specific drugs/interactions that seniors should be aware of.  
My favorite quote from this article, "The side-effects meant patients often dropped the drug they were taking.  Only 45 percent of those with documented side-effects refilled the prescription for the same antidepressant and a quarter quit taking antidepressants altogether."  What a revelation!  Most people will either stop taking a medication that causes undesirable side effects or switches to a different medication with the help of their doctor.  The fact that 25 percent of seniors stop taking the antidepressants altogether isn't very alarming when compared to the almost identical proportion of the general public that reportedly does the same thing.  
This article is a great example of how important skepticism and critical thinking are when you get your "news" from the internet/mainstream media. 
  

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