Kid-Flavored Prozac


Ritalin may not be a gateway drug, but Prozac has been OK'ed for use by kids as young as seven years old.

According to Reuters, Prozac is the "first selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) to receive approval for treating depression in children."

Among (m)any other questions, I'm left wondering if a desire to grow the market for Prozac, now competing with generics since its patent expired in 2001, is part of the mix here.

Link courtesy of Plastic, which also features a characteristically lively, free-wheeling conversation about the story.


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  1. grant: it’s easy to create an ailment. Instead of calling rowdy young boys exactly what they are (rowdy young boys) and leaving it alone, simply get professional psychologists to diagnose them with ADD or whatever the trendy diagnosis is these days. Then get a drug company to manufacture a pill that is the magical cure for this “ailment”.

  2. This sounds like conspiracy theory. But lets say it really does happen on a significant scale, because to be a profitable strategy for a co it would have to be a significant scale. “It” being parents taking their kids to shrinks for prescriptions. Fine. There are all sorts of weird things people do to kids based on what they think is best. What’s the problem? I would not be so quick to label it an abdication of the parental role for giving the kid drugs, instead of getting out the belt. In the long run the wacko strategies will be weeded out.

    The problem appears when the state starts to meddle in how you deal with those rowdy young kids and not in whether you, the shrink and the drug company in some sort of kabal.

  3. We have anti-toenail-fungus drugs for the same reason we have anti-allergy drugs: The combination of improving medical technology and the increasing wealth of our society.

    Afflictions which were once considered nuisances have become more affordable to treat. We now take drugs to avoid the sniffles, we bathe regularly to improve our smell, we dye our hair to look younger, and we take anti-fungal drugs so our toes will look better.

    Whether a problem has a fancy disease name {“onychomycosis due to dermatophytes”) or not (“I don’t like this color”) is largely a matter of how hard the drug companies are trying to get it recognized as a covered disease by the insurance companies. This is mostly a matter for the market to resolve, and should be left that way by the folks in the legislatures.

  4. It’s hard to weed out the wacko strategies when the state advocates many of them. The number of welfare kids on Ritalin is staggering.

  5. Mark: the point you made about drug companies trying to get various things covered by insurance companies is probably the pivotal issue here. After all, once something is covered by insurance, it becomes less of an issue of economic or market efficiency and more of an issue of moral hazard – at least once you get beyond deductibles. After all, the fungus growing on your toenail may not be that big of a deal, but if you can get it fixed using other people’s money, why not do it?

  6. I have no medical experience or training. But have relationships with several people who treat children. Some of these children have sever emotional problems. My friends insist these drugs are essential to help them treat these children.

    I was instinctively against any meddling with people’s psyche with the use of drugs. My concern is for these drugs becoming a crutch.

    The counter argument for which I have no argument is that without these drugs the person is overwhelmed with their symptoms and will not live a normal life. Some of the problems are transitory, some are permanent. But since so little is understood about what causes many emotional and mental illneses, why not use the latest tools and latest knowledge. Maybe sometime in the future we will learn about the negatives of these treatments, but without “experimentation” it will take much longer and presumably more suffering.

  7. It seems to me that there are all the sudden a host of conditions recently invented to justify expensive drug therapies. I am talking about everything from Attention Defecit Disorder to Acid Reflux Disease.

    My question in regards to all these “essential” drugs, is what came first, the chicken or the egg?

  8. Oh, and I forgot another one. Ever seen that ad for some drug treatment for unattractive toenails? (I’m not making this up, but I forget the term they use – “aesthetic toenail disfunction”?)

    Anywho, apparently it clears the toenails up although it may cause dangerous liver disease.

  9. Ah, the dreaded “ugly toenail disease”. Real disease (fungus), but a drug with really bad side-effects for your liver works no better than Tea Tree oil (which, incidentally, I turned my girlfriend on to and worked amazingly well).

    We (as a society) want the easy answer. Human nature, dontcha know. Take a pill. It’s less work. No need for behavioral changes.

    That’s what drives the market.

    So there. It’s good to be the king.

  10. Scott – I couldn’t agree more. The real issue in rising health insurance costs and rising drug premiums should be, do people today REALLY need all the health care and all of the expensive drug prescriptions that they are getting? I submit to you that they do not. As you put it, drug companies will create an ailment in order to create a marketing opportunity for the next wonder drug that everybody suddenly must have prescribed to them. It’s a joke.

  11. How are the drug companies creating ailments? Are they sneaking into your home and putting fungus on your toe nails? Or are they suggesting to you that your kids are a little out of control and need something to calm them down?

    If it is the latter, you are a big boy and can make the desicion yourself whether you should dope up your kid. As long as nobody is being forced into the treatment than whats the problem?

    Caveat Emptor

    As for health insurance costs… There is nothing magical about insurance. It is a question of costs necessary for treatment. And if the market (you and I) decides current treatments are not effective for the money, than new treatments will emerge.

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