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Popular Antidepressants Linked to GI Bleeding
Date:7/7/2008

And the risk seems bigger if certain painkillers are used, study says

MONDAY, July 7 (HealthDay News) -- The widely prescribed class of antidepressants known as SSRIs may be associated with bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal tract, especially when taken with painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a new study says.

Although reports of this effect from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors family of antidepressants -- which includes Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft -- have been noted before, some outside experts said the evidence is still far from conclusive.

"Certainly, doctors should be advising patients of this finding, but it's far from definitive," said Dr. Ewald Horwath, professor of psychiatry, epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "The risk of discontinuing antidepressants and getting depression and its consequences are much greater than this drug."

But, other experts said that the public health impact of the new finding, if confirmed, could be significant.

"SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed psychotropic drug in the U.S.," said Dr. Norman Sussman, a psychopharmacologist at New York University Langone Medical Center and associate dean of the post-graduate program at New York University School of Medicine. "This could be a major pharmaceutical issue."

The findings were published in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry. The study was led by researchers at the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Healthcare Products in Madrid. The research was supported by grants from the drug company AstraZeneca.

Some previous research has linked SSRIs with upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Other research, however, has found no such association.

For the new study, the researchers looked at 1,321 patients with upper GI bleeding who had been referred to a hospital or a specialist, and compared th
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