Little impact on market is foreseen

Warning isn't expected to alter prescribing habits

March 23, 2004|By Cyril T. Zaneski

The Food and Drug Administration advisory urging drug manufacturers to strengthen warning labels on some popular anti-depressants should have little or no impact on the $12 billion U.S. market for those medications, pharmaceutical industry analysts said yesterday.

"This issue has been out in the public domain for quite a long time," said Barbara A. Ryan, managing director of Deutsche Bank Securities. "It's not going to be that big a deal."

The FDA asked manufacturers yesterday to change the labels of 10 anti-depressants to caution physicians about the need to carefully monitor patients for suicidal thoughts.

The warnings, which will appear in package inserts shipped to doctors but not necessarily in those distributed to patients, are unlikely to drastically change doctors' prescribing habits, said David Moskowitz, senior pharmaceutical analyst at Freidman Billings Ramsey.

"I think it could temper some of the marginal use of these products, where there may not be major depression," Moskowitz said. "The best thing about this is it likely will result in a step up in care, where the physician will not only dispense the medicines but follow up."

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