Harry Reid critics misrepresented study

A group called UNITE, which describes its mission as “to educate the public about the dangers of psychiatric drugs and other interventions,” issued a press release last week that attacked U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada for adding an amendment to Senate Bill 3297. The amendment provides for screening and treatment of pregnant women and new mothers.

The Reid amendment is the legislation previously known as the “MOTHERS Act"—the acronym meaning “Mom’s Opportunity to Access Health, Education, Research, and Support for Postpartum Depression.” The MOTHERS Act has become a point of contention between left and right and has gotten a lot of attention from political talk radio.

Among other things, the UNITE news release claims, “In January 2008, the New England Journal of Medicine published suppressed data from drug companies that proved antidepressants work no better than a placebo” (emphasis in news release).

We contacted the Journal, which gave us free access to the article. It scrutinized drug trials that were never submitted for publication and found that the failure to submit had some impact on findings of effectiveness. But, far from saying that “antidepressants work no better than a placebo,” the Journal article actually said just the opposite: “We wish to clarify that nonsignificance in a single trial does not necessarily indicate lack of efficacy. Each drug, when subjected to meta-analysis, was shown to be superior to placebo. On the other hand, the true magnitude of each drug’s superiority to placebo was less than a diligent literature review would indicate.”

The acronym UNITE, by the way, stands for United Non-Profits and Individuals for Truth and Ethics.