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Doctors change prescribing habits on back of SSRI study

44% of doctors would now consider other treatments to SSRIs for depression

OnMedica Staff

Friday, 23 May 2008

Almost half of doctors are reconsidering prescribing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to patients with depression after research found that they were not as effective as expected.

Of the 490 doctors questioned by OnMedica, 44% said they would consider other treatments to SSRIs because of doubts over their effectiveness.

The UK and US research in question was led by Dr Irving Kirsch, from the University of Hull. The researchers used freedom of information legislation to obtain data on unpublished as well as published clinical trials used by drug companies to obtain licenses for fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Efexor), nefazodone, and paroxetine (Seroxat).

They assessed whether the initial severity of a patient’s depression influenced improvement with drug therapy. Their results published in the journal PLoS Medicine found no difference in improvement scores between patients taking the drug and placebo in moderate depression and only a small and clinically insignificant difference among patients with very severe depression.

Dr Luke Koupparis, Medical Editor, OnMedica said: “Doctors have clearly taken on board the findings of this research and are prepared to change their prescribing habits. This is something that the pharmaceutical companies involved should take on board.”

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