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Anti-depressants, suicide, and drug regulation

  • Jens Ludwig

    (Georgetown University)

  • Dave E. Marcotte

    (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

Policymakers are increasingly concerned that a relatively new class of anti-depressant drugs, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI), may increase the risk of suicide for at least some patients, particularly children. Prior randomized trials are not informative on this question because of small sample sizes and other limitations. Using variation across countries over time in SSRI sales and suicide, we find that an increase of one pill per capita (a 13 percent increase over 1999 levels) is associated with a 2.5 percent reduction in suicide rates, a relationship that is more pronounced for adults than for children. Our findings suggest that expanding access to SSRIs for adults may be a cost-effective way to save lives, although policymakers are right to remain cautious about pediatric use of SSRIs. © 2005 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management

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Article provided by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. in its journal Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

Volume (Year): 24 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 249-272

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Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:24:y:2005:i:2:p:249-272
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  1. Dahlberg, Matz & Lundin, Douglas, 2005. "Antidepressants and the Suicide Rate: Is There Really a Connection?," Working Paper Series 2005:4, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  2. Morrall, John F, III, 2003. " Saving Lives: A Review of the Record," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 221-37, December.
  3. Philipson, Tomas, 2000. "Economic epidemiology and infectious diseases," Handbook of Health Economics, in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 33, pages 1761-1799 Elsevier.
  4. Viscusi, W Kip & Aldy, Joseph E, 2003. " The Value of a Statistical Life: A Critical Review of Market Estimates throughout the World," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 5-76, August.
  5. White, Halbert, 1982. "Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Misspecified Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 1-25, January.
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