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Prozac one of 30 antidepressants probed by UK watchdog over links to suicide

More than 30 of the most common antidepressants used in the UK are to be reviewed by the UK’s medicines regulator, as figures point to hundreds of deaths linked to suicide and self-harm among people prescribed these drugs.

The medicines, which include Prozac and are prescribed to millions of patients, will all be looked at by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

It follows concerns raised by families in Britain over the adequacy of safety measures in place to protect those taking the drugs, such as warnings about potential side effects.

The regulator will look into the effectiveness of the current warnings, according to a letter from mental health minister Maria Caulfield, which has been seen by The Independent.

There has been a huge rise in the use of antidepressants in England, with 85 million prescriptions issued in 2022-23, up from 58 million in 2015-16, according to NHS figures.

Nigel Crisp, a crossbench peer and chair of the Beyond Pills all-party parliamentary group, told The Independent: “Overprescribing of antidepressants has an enormous cost in terms of human suffering, because so many people become dependent and then struggle to get off them – and it wastes vital NHS resources.”

The review comes as it emerged that:

  • More than 515 death alerts linked to these drugs, involving suicidal ideation and self-harm, have been made to the MHRA since the year 2000 (these alerts don’t directly confirm the cause of a person’s death)
  • Some antidepressants have been given to children as young as four, and the total cost of the medication to the NHS in 2022-23 was more than £231m

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Source: The Independent, 11 May 2024


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