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Pfizer statement on BBC Panorama programme



We believe BBC Panorama’s reporting is an unbalanced, inaccurate and inappropriate depiction of the risks and benefits of SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) medications, including sertraline for the treatment of depression. The reporting is also irresponsible because it reinforces negative and false beliefs about mental illness and disregards the potential impact on people who struggle with depression and their loved ones who must overcome stigma and other obstacles in treating their illness.

Based on currently available scientific evidence, including medical literature, clinical study and adverse event reports, post-marketing analyses, and epidemiological data, a causal link between the use of sertraline and homicidal behaviour has not been established.

By depicting people with depression and SSRI treatments in this manner, we believe the BBC may inadvertently cause people to delay seeking treatment, as well as cause patients unwarranted concern that may lead them to discontinue their medication without consulting their treating healthcare professional.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), major depressive disorder (MDD) is a leading cause of disability and suicide and a risk factor for other medical conditions1. Inappropriate alteration in medical management could lead to worsening symptoms, relapse or other serious consequences. It is our hope that the report will consider these issues and encourage people to consult with their healthcare provider before making any changes to their treatment regime.  

Since its approval in 1990 in the UK and 1991 in the US, sertraline has helped millions of patients diagnosed with major depression and anxiety disorders, including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)2. When used in accordance with the label and as prescribed by a healthcare professional, sertraline is an effective medicine with a well-established safety profile. As with all medical conditions, people with depression are encouraged to work closely with their healthcare provider.



  1. WHO. Depression factsheet. Available at: Last accessed July 2017
  2. IMS data