Depression can strike up to 65% of heart patients following a cardiac event, yet fewer than 10% are appropriately diagnosed For those in that 10% group, encouraging research in the past has suggested that taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement along with an anti-depressant drug may boost the clinical effectiveness of that drug for heart patients suffering from depression. But a new study led by Dr. Robert Carney of Washington University reveals “disappointing” results that failed to show any improvement in symptoms by adding omega-3 to a heart patient’s anti-depressant medications.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain types of fish, nuts, and vegetable oils. Although they are believed to have positive cardiovascular effects, they did not help alleviate depression among the heart patients in this study.
Keep in mind, however, that when Dr. Carney expresses his disappointment and his high hopes in future studies for a more positive outcome when adding omega-3 to anti-depressant meds he is speaking as the lead author of a study in which the drug giant GlaxoSmithKline supported his research. The world’s biggest drug company Pfizer supplied the sertraline (Zoloft), the anti-depressant studied alongside the supplement. In the conflict of interest fine print at the bottom, note that Dr. Carney admits that he has received money from drug companies, and that he and members of his family are also stockholders in drug companies including Pfizer, Forest Laboratories, and Johnson & Johnson. A study co-author also reported conflicts of interest with GlaxoSmithKline, Monsanto, Unilever, and OmegaQuant Analytics.
No wonder they are so “disappointed”.
It would have been a tremendous financial beneficial to GSK had the published results shown otherwise. Dr. Carney does try to reassure his drug company friends, however, that perhaps next time they do such research, they just need to try a higher dosage of omega-3 until they find a dosage that gives them the results they want.
So don’t give up, Big Pharma! Read more about potential conflicts of interest like this in Doctors On The Take: How to Read the Fine Print in Medical Research.