Sunday, January 18, 2009

No Long-Term Harm From Short-Term Placebo in Adolescent Depression Trials

Delaying active therapy for teens with major depression didn't impair long-term outcomes in the context of a clinical trial.

Patients on placebo for 12 weeks before switching to antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy showed no difference in 36-week response rate (82% versus 83%) compared with those on active treatment from the start of a large randomized trial, said Betsy D. Kennard, Psy.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and colleagues.

The 12-week delay in active therapy also had little impact on rates of suicidal events and symptom worsening, the researchers reported online in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Although these findings support placebo treatment as an ethical course of action in a well-run pediatric clinical trial, Dr. Kennard emphasized that its use was not simply a matter of "wait and see" if a teen gets better.


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