They must be joking.

That’s the only possible explanation for this one, friends. Either that, or maybe the folks in Washington just don’t read the newspapers.

The FDA has just approved the antidepressant Lexapro for use in kids. Just weeks before that, federal prosecutors accused its maker, Forest Laboratories, of illegally marketing that same drug, along with one other antidepressant, to kids.

The manufacturer was also accused of giving pediatricians kickbacks to get kids on these drugs. And now, the FDA essentially rewards this behavior.

If you can see any logic in that, please drop me a line because I just can’t figure it out. To me, it’s like a gang of bank robbers getting caught in the vault. And instead of being locked up, they’re given the keys.

Lexapro already enjoys $2 billion more in annual sales - just how many more times are we going to let that cash register ring before someone notices this company isn’t playing by the rules?

This wasn’t some spontaneous act by the Justice Department in response to a one-time slip-up. Their accusations came after a five-year probe of how Forest marketed Lexapro and another antidepressant, Celexa. Five years!

They found the company was offering pediatricians everything from tickets to sporting events and Broadway shows to fishing trips and spa visits in exchange for giving these drugs to kids. They also found that the company had ordered its sales force to push a positive study on Celexa and ignore one that showed it was ineffective for children.

Let’s keep in mind that antidepressants are potentially dangerous drugs that sometimes cause nasty side effects. Many come with black-box warnings because they’ve been linked to increased suicide and suicidal behavior in youths.

If any drugs should be kept away from kids, it’s these.

Antidepressants exist purely for symptom control. They won’t cure depression or cause the body to create the additional serotonin it needs. They just manipulate the serotonin you already have.

Often times, there are much better ways, not just for kids, but for everyone to treat their depression. Everything from tryptophan to vitamin B to exercise can be just as effective as drugs like Lexapro, if not more so.

To me, the behavior of the company tells you everything you need to know about what they’re selling. When a business has to resort to shady and manipulative behavior to sell its product, then it’s probably not a product you want to use, much less give to your children.