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Study suggests SSRI risk for older people

Cohort study suggests new generation antidepressants, SSRIs, may carry greater risks than alternatives for older people

A study has suggested that the new generation of antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may have an increased risk for older people.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). indicated that SSRIs are associated with increased levels of several severe adverse outcomes in older people compared to alternative antidepressants such as tricyclics (TCAs).

The cohort investigation, conducted by the University of Nottingham and East Anglia, researched the association between antidepressant treatment and potential life threatening outcomes in patients aged 65 and over.

Overall it was found that SSRIs were associated with an increased risk of all cause mortality, stroke, falls, fracture, epilepsy or seizures and hyponatraemia.

Individual drugs such as trazodone (marketed as Desyrel by Bristol-Myers Squibb), mirtazapine (marketed as Remeron by Organon Pharmaceuticals) and venlafaxine (marketed as Effexor by Pfizer) were associated with the highest risks for several negative outcomes.

Although further research is needed to confirm these findings, the authors state that the risks and benefits of different antidepressants should be carefully evaluated when they are prescribed to older patients.

3rd August 2011

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