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Anti-depressant drugs can double risk of gastrointestinal bleeding
Date:10/8/2007

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. New research shows that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a group of drugs commonly used to treat depression, may double the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding, according to researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and colleagues. When the drugs are taken with aspirin and other similar pain medications, the risk is more than 600 percent higher.

Clinicians who prescribe these medications should be aware of the potential risk and may need to consider alternatives, said Sonal Singh, M.D., senior researcher and an assistant professor of internal medicine. In addition, regulatory authorities should consider revising existing package inserts to highlight the magnitude of the risk.

The research was reported online this month in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Emerging evidence has shown that SSRIs may be associated with bleeding of the lining of the digestive tract including the esophagus, stomach or upper part of the small intestine, which together are called the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Upper gastrointestinal bleeding may be potentially serious and require hospitalization for blood transfusions and other treatments.

The drugs are widely used to treat depression, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The researchers undertook the study because of a lack of information on the exact magnitude of the risk. They also looked at the effects of taking SSRIs at the same time as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are also associated with upper GI bleeding. NSAIDs include prescription medications such as Celebrex® and over-the-counter drugs such as aspirin and Aleve®.

The researchers pooled data from four studies involving 153,000 patients, which allowed them to detect effects that might not show up in the individual studies. They found patients taking SSRIs were nearly twice as likely to develop upper GI bleeding than p
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Contact: Karen Richardson
krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu
336-716-4453
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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