July, 16 2010
By: David Gutierrez
Women who take the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) while undergoing some breast cancer treatments are significantly more likely to die than women who do not take the antidepressant, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, and published in the British Medical Journal.
“These results highlight a drug interaction that is extremely common, widely underappreciated and potentially life-threatening, yet uniformly avoidable,” researcher David Juurlink said.
The researchers analyzed the medical records of 2,430 women over the age of 65 who had been treated for breast cancer with the drug tamoxifen between 1993 and 2005. Approximately 30 percent of these women took at least one antidepressant during the course of their cancer treatment.
The risk of death from breast cancer was significantly higher among women who took Paxil at the same time as tamoxifen. The risk increased by 25 percent in women with a 25 percent overlap in Paxil and tamoxifen treatment, and by 91 percent in women with a 75 percent overlap in treatment.
“In contrast, no such risk was seen with other antidepressants,” the researchers wrote.
Although the researchers could not say exactly why Paxil caused this effect, they believe that the antidepressant interferes directly with the action of tamoxifen. For the breast cancer drug to function, the body must first process it with an enzyme known as CYP2D6. Yet selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Paxil can inhibit the action of CYP2D6.
“Paxil is a fairly potent inhibitor of that enzyme,” Juurlink said.
Although Prozac (fluoxetine) also significantly inhibits CYP2D6, few women in the study were taking that drug.
The researchers emphasized that even women undergoing cancer treatment should not stop antidepressant treatment without the supervision of a doctor, because the withdrawal symptoms of such drugs can be dangerous.
June 7, 2010
By S. L. Baker
Back in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that exposure to the antidepressant paroxetine (sold as Paxil, Paxil CR, and Pexeva) in the first trimester of pregnancy might increase the risk for birth defects, especially heart problems. Did this halt the widespread prescribing of paroxetine and other antidepressants for pregnant women? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
In fact, background information in a just published study in CMAJ (the Canadian Medical Association Journal) notes the drugs are frequently used in pregnancy. Almost 4 percent of pregnant women take them at some point during the first trimester — and the result can be tragic. The new research concludes expectant moms taking antidepressants have an astounding 68 percent increase in the overall risk of miscarriage.
Most previous studies on the use of these medications in pregnancy have been small and haven’t looked as miscarriages as a main outcome. But this large study by researchers from the University of Montreal and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center (CHU Ste-Justine) evaluated the association between antidepressant use in pregnancy in detail — analyzing classes, types and doses of the drugs and the risk of miscarriage.
In all, the scientists investigated data on 5124 women in Quebec from a large population-based cohort of pregnant women who had miscarried by 20 weeks of gestation. Then they compared their findings to a large sample of women from the same registry who carried their babies full term. Of the women who lost their babies, 284 had taken antidepressants during pregnancy.
All the popular SSRI drugs were linked to miscarriage risk
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), especially paroxetine, were associated with the increased risk of miscarriage. Venlafaxine (sold under the brand names Effexor, Alventa, Argofan, and Trevilor), which is the sixth most commonly prescribed antidepressant in the U.S., belongs to another slightly different class of SSRIs called arylalkanolamine serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and, like paroxetine, it was also especially likely to cause miscarriages. In addition, higher daily doses of antidepressants and a combination of different drugs raised the risk substantially.
“These results, which suggest an overall class effect of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are highly robust given the large number of users studied,” Dr. Anick Berard of the University of Montreal and the Director of the Research Unit on Medications and Pregnancy at CHU Ste-Justine wrote in the article.
Overall, an astounding number of Americans, some 27 million, now take SSRIs. However, as NaturalNews has previously reported, new dangers from these drugs continue to be uncovered. For example, last December Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers announced their findings that taking SSRIs significantly raises the risk of strokes and death in women after menopause.
January 06, 2010
By Eric Walsh
Mild to severe depression might be better treated with alternatives to antidepressant drugs, which do not help patients much more than an inactive placebo, researchers said Tuesday.
Combining data from six studies that examined the effectiveness of two commonly prescribed antidepressants — paroxetine and imipramine — found the drugs produced benefits only slightly greater than a placebo in patients with mild to severe depression.
“They would have done just as well or just about as well with a placebo,” said Robert DeRubeis, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, who with colleagues performed the meta-analysis.
Paroxetine is one of a popular class of drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and is sold under the brand name Paxil by GlaxoSmithKline. Imipramine is an older tricyclic antidepressant drug developed in the 1950s.
The so-called placebo effect is powerful in treating depression, where people believe they are helped even though they are taking an inactive sugar pill, DeRubeis said.
In the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association involving nearly 800 patients, the drugs’ impact was noticeably stronger than a placebo in people diagnosed with very severe cases of depression.
Using a scoring system for depression where a diagnosis of 24 or above indicates a very severe case, the researchers said patients treated with drugs saw their scores drop by 13 points, compared to a drop of 9 points for those given a placebo.
But for those with initial depression scores of 23 or below the drop averaged 8 points for those given antidepressants and 7 points for those given a placebo. Roughly half of those prescribed antidepressants fit into the mild to severe categories.
“Our data should give some pause” to doctors and patients weighing antidepressants, DeRubeis said in a telephone interview. “They should give some consideration to other alternatives.”
Exercise has been shown to be helpful to stem depression, as does psychotherapy, and even “self-treatment” with the aid of the plethora of self-help literature, he said.
A spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline said the report “contributes to the extensive research” into antidepressants, noting that Paxil received U.S. government approval in 1992 and has helped “millions of people battling mental illness.
“The studies used for the analysis in the JAMA paper differ methodologically from studies used to support the approval of paroxetine for major depressive disorder, so it is difficult to make direct comparisons between the results,” spokeswoman Sarah Alspach said.
At least 27 million Americans take antidepressants, nearly double the number that did in the mid-1990s, according to a study by Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania researchers reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
More than 164 million prescriptions for antidepressants were written in 2008, totaling nearly $10 billion in U.S. sales, according to IMS Health. Global sales were twice that.
December 9, 2009
Los Angeles Times
By Melissa Healy
Peter D. Kramer, the psychiatrist and author of the path-breaking 1993 book “Listening to Prozac,” said in an interview today that he felt “vindicated” by a newly published study (“Personality Change During Depression Treatment,” by Tony Z. Tang et al) finding that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants cause dramatic personality changes in depressed patients who take them.
“It’s hard not to feel justified” in the view–offered long before it became fashionable–that antidepressants now taken by 7% of American adults do more than lift depression: They nudge underlying personalities–even those of healthy people–into brighter, more appealing territory, and in so doing, raise ethical concerns about “cosmetic psychiatry.”
The study offers evidence that people who are unassertive, pessimistic, prone to worry and prefer to be by themselves or in small groups are more likely to develop depression, and that, when they take SSRIs, those underlying personality traits change more than most peoples’ change in an adult lifetime–in the span of 16 weeks. That change in basic outlook not only seems to be the thing that lifts them out of depression; it may even reduce the likelihood that they’ll relapse. (You can read our detailed account of the study and its findings here.)
While a group of subjects undergoing cognitive therapy had some of the same effects, they weren’t nearly as powerful as those that came from a pill–which in this case was paroxetine, marketed as Paxil.
Kramer found one possible inference from the study particularly striking: that it might turn on its head the view that many clinicians have of the value of drugs and/or cognitive therapy for their patients. “It looks like medicine is good for chronic personality traits and cognitive therapy is good for acute illness,” he said. Translation: Maybe any of us who are given to sad or worried rumination should be on SSRIs, and then, if we fall into depression anyway, we can get some time-consuming and expensive cognitive therapy. (That DOES sound like a treatment algorithm that would appeal to insurance companies.)
August 3, 2009
By Maggie Fox
Use of antidepressant drugs in the United States doubled between 1996 and 2005, probably because of a mix of factors, researchers reported on Monday.
About 6 percent of people were prescribed an antidepressant in 1996 — 13 million people. This rose to more than 10 percent or 27 million people by 2005, the researchers found.
“Significant increases in antidepressant use were evident across all sociodemographic groups examined, except African Americans,” Dr. Mark Olfson of Columbia University in New York and Steven Marcus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia wrote in the Archives of General Psychiatry.
“Not only are more U.S. residents being treated with antidepressants, but also those who are being treated are receiving more antidepressant prescriptions,” they added.
More than 164 million prescriptions were written in 2008 for antidepressants, totaling $9.6 billion in U.S. sales, according to IMS Health.
Drugs that affect the brain chemical serotonin like GlaxoSmithKline’s <GSK.L> Paxil, known generically as paroxetine, and Eli Lilly and Co’s <LLY.N> Prozac, known generically as fluoxetine, are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant. But the study found the effect in all classes of the drugs.
Olfson and Marcus looked at the Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys done by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, involving more than 50,000 people in 1996 and 2005.
“During this period, individuals treated with antidepressants became more likely to also receive treatment with antipsychotic medications and less likely to undergo psychotherapy,” they wrote.
SSRI use weakens the sperm of 50% of men taking it
June 11, 2009
Add anti-depressants to the list of substances that can damage men’s sperm and potentially impair their fertility.
In a new study, New York researchers report that as many as half of men taking the anti-depressant paroxetine (brand names, Seroxat and Paxil) have higher levels of sperm fragmentation.
The study was published online today by the journal Fertility & Sterility.
“It’s fairly well known that SSRI anti-depressants negatively impact erectile function and ejaculation. This study goes on step further, demonstrating that they can cause a major increase in genetic damage to sperm,” said Dr. Peter Schlegel, the study’s senior author and professor of reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
“Although this study doesn’t look directly at fertility, we can infer that as many as half of men taking SSRIs have a reduced ability to conceive. These men should talk with their physicians about their treatment options,” he added.
The study followed 35 healthy men who took paroxetine for five weeks. Tests were used to examine DNA fragmentation, which occurs when sperm DNA is missing pieces of the genetic code. The results showed that 50 percent of men had signs of abnormal DNA fragmentation while taking the drug, compared with less than 10 percent at the start of the trial.
The men’s sperm returned to normal after discontinuing the drug.
Dr. Cigdem Tanrikut speculated that the anti-depressant caused mens’ sperm to slow down as it makes its way through the male reproductive tract. Sperm gets “hung up,” she said in a statement, allowing it to age and become damaged.
The amount, concentration and motility of sperm were not significantly changed by the medication.
Though men may not know it, sperm can be damaged by various substances, including smoking, alcohol, heat, anabolic steroids, drug abuse, sexually transmitted diseases and some environmental exposures.