WEDNESDAY, May 25 (HealthDay News) -- Taken in combination, two commonly prescribed drugs, the antidepressant Paxil and the cholesterol-lowering medication Pravachol, appear to significantly raise blood sugar levels, a new study finds.
The increase is most apparent -- and concerning -- among diabetics, whose blood sugar is already too high, the researchers noted.
"This interaction may affect as many as 1 million Americans who might be on these two drugs and who are getting a bump in their blood glucose that may be unnecessary," said lead researcher Dr. Russ Altman, a professor of bioengineering, genetics and medicine at Stanford University.
It's possible that the blood sugar spike triggered a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in some patients, Altman said, "and we might have been able to avoid that diagnosis if they hadn't been on these drugs," he said. "That's speculative, but it's possible."
Neither drug alone raises blood sugar, and the researchers said they can't yet explain the effect of the combination. Also, combinations of other antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering drugs do not boost glucose levels. "It is not what we would call a 'class' effect," Altman explained.
Paxil (paroxetine) is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and Pravachol (pravastatin) belongs to a group of drugs called statins. "We looked at all other pairs of SSRIs and statins, and there were a couple that showed a tiny bump in glucose, but there is nothing like the bump seen with Paxil and Pravachol," Altman said.
For the study, published online May 25 in Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, the researchers used a technique called data mining, scanning large databases in hopes of finding information that, while not immediately obvious, is gleaned by combining data in a new way.
In this case, Altman's team used data from the U.S
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