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 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 00:23 GMT
Anti-depressant safety reviewed
Prozac
Prozac - one of the drugs being reviewed
Experts are looking at the safety of widely used antidepressants including Prozac and Seroxat.

The review will look at a range of options, including whether the drugs should be banned.

The government review began after members of the public and doctors raised concerns that the drugs can be addictive, contrary to manufacturers' claims - and increase the risk of suicide in some patients.

Prozac (fluoxetine) and Seroxat (paroxetine) are drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

We're not sure what this review is going to achieve

Sarah Venn, Seroxat User Group
Their selling point was that people are not supposed to become physically dependent on them, unlike older drugs.

They will be considered, along with other SSRIs, fluvoxamine, sertraline and citalopram.

Public concern

The review is being led by Professor Angus Mackay, Director of Mental Health Services in Lomond and Argyll, Scotland.

It will look at drug trials and reports of adverse drug reactions made to the Committee on Safety of Medicines and the Medicines Control Agency.

The group will report to the CSM later this month. The CSM will then make its recommendations.

A spokesman for the Medicines Control Agency told BBC News Online: "They are looking at this because of the media attention that SSRIs have received, and because of concerns from the public and also from clinicians.

"They might say that all the safety requirements are in place, or they might say the drugs have got to be banned, though that's unlikely."

Information

Sarah Venn, a spokeswoman for the Seroxat User Group which supports people using the drug, told BBC News Online: "We're not sure what this review is going to achieve.

"But we are hoping that it will make more information available to doctors and patients so they can make informed decisions about taking Seroxat."

Ms Venn, who has been taking Seroxat for five years and who is trying to come off the drug, added: "Patient information leaflets need to be updated.

"It's important that it makes clear how difficult withdrawal is."

But she said she did not want to see the drug banned.

"It does help a lot of people, so we are not looking for a ban, but we do want better information."

The Seroxat User Group has over 4,000 members, some of whom are involved in legal action calling for improved patient information.

GlaxoSmithKline, the company which manufacturers Seroxat, has denied that it can lead to addiction or that it is responsible for violence in users.

See also:

13 Oct 02 | Panorama
24 Jan 02 | Scotland
13 Oct 02 | Panorama
11 Jun 01 | Health
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