Dr. Bernard Carroll, scientific director of the non-profit Pacific Behavioral Research Foundation and a former chair of Duke University’s psychiatry department, is suggesting the British Medical Journal should retract last month’s article that linked the FDA’s black box warnings about increased suicidality in youth taking SSRIs to increases in adolescent suicide attempts. The BMJ article by Christine Lu et al reached its conclusions by using drug poisonings as a proxy for suicide attempts. “A substandard article with large policy implications slipped through their review and editing process and it was trumpeted in the world media,” writes Carroll in his second critical letter to BMJ about the article. Carroll points out that many letters have exposed the profound flaws in the study, but “the coup de grace” was the recent letter to BMJ from Barber, Miller and Azrael from the Harvard School of Public Health, reported yesterday in Mad In America. Those authors provided direct evidence that suicide attempts had not increased, and also disavowed Lu’s citation of their study as proof that drug poisonings were a valid proxy for suicide attempts. “Certainly, a retraction would shine a stronger public searchlight on the compromised validity of the Lu report than just the Rapid Responses can do,” writes Carroll.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Psychiatric News today published an article about the Lu study, and reproduced many of the flaws and omissions which were publicly exposed weeks ago. Only one critic is quoted.
Mad In America has been following the story closely and has compiled links to critiques and a summary analysis of the issues here.