As far back as 10 years ago, a paper published by the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry claimed that the popular antidepressant drug Paxil was “generally well-tolerated and effective for major depression in adolescents.” However, the article’s declaration of safety for Paxil since has been discredited, and the manufacturer of the drug, GlaxoSmithKline, has undergone several investigations and numerous lawsuits amid claims that the company hid the adverse side effects that Paxil causes.
In fact, as recently as two years ago, the FDA ordered a black box warning be assigned to Paxil as a result of charges against Glaxo that the company hid side effects. The warning was to include advice that Paxil not be given to children under the age of 18 because it was found to potentially cause youngsters to become suicidal. As early as last June, the journal had been mentioned in as many as 200 other articles attempting to argue that Paxil remains an effective treatment for youngsters under 18 to treat depression.
With this information in mind, two academics, Jon Jureidini, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Adelaide, and Leemon McHenry, lecturer in philosophy at California State University, have requested that the journal write a retraction to that article.
“The JACAAP was the most important instrument through which the results of Study 329 were misrepresented to physicians,” the professors argue.
All of this does raise an interesting question, however: Once an article has been proven to be false, should it, in fact, be retracted? While some may believe that a retraction is the only recourse if a journal wants to remain a credible source of information, others may believe that the original article lends some historical opinion to the current trends against the drug. This is a good case to measure whether an article should be retracted and, if so, when and how?
So far, requests for a retraction haven’t been answered.