Antidepressants and painkillers - a dangerous combination

Oct 08, 2007

Taking antidepressants together with painkillers can substantially increase the risk of bleeding from the stomach, according to new research by the University of East Anglia.

The antidepressant drugs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors known as SSRIs, are recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). SSRIs are very widely used in the UK, with more than 18 million prescriptions issued last year, probably to about 1.5 million patients.

Painkillers such as ibuprofen are widely used by the public and can be purchased from supermarkets and pharmacies without prescription.

The new research was undertaken by Dr Yoon Loke, a clinical pharmacologist at UEA’s School of Medicine, Health Policy and Practice, working with colleagues at Wake Forest University in the US. The results are published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics.

There have been existing concerns over SSRIs harming the stomach, but the threat from combined SSRI and painkiller use had not previously been established. The new UEA research confirms that SSRIs double the risk of bleeding from the stomach, but when taken together with painkillers, the risk increases by six times.

The findings are based on a meta-analysis of 4 studies covering more than 153,000 patients, which estimates that over a period of one year, one in every 106 patients taking SSRIs together with painkillers will require hospital admission due to bleeding in the stomach.

“While the SSRIs on their own carry only a small risk of harm, this risk becomes much more serious when they are taken in combination with painkillers,” said Dr Loke.

The researchers also looked in detail at more than 100 cases of patients who suffered bleeding in the stomach related to SSRIs and found that two-thirds of the patients were taking painkillers at the same time.

“If you have a history of stomach ulcers or indigestion then SSRIs may not be the best choice for treating your depression,” said Dr Loke. “There are other antidepressants which seem to be less harmful.”

He also advised patients on SSRIs: “If you do need to take a painkiller, drugs such as paracetamol may be a safer choice, rather than the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.”

Dr Loke’s co-researchers were Dr Sonal Singh and Dr Apurva Trivedi, both of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in the US.

Source: University of East Anglia

Explore further: EU regulator: Morning-after pill OK for all women

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New planthopper species found in southern Spain

1 hour ago

Not much is known about the the genus of planthopper known as Conosimus, which now includes six species after a new one was recently discovered in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula in the Spanish ...

Ex-Qualcomm exec pleads guilty to insider trading

8 hours ago

A former high-ranking executive of US computer chip giant Qualcomm pleaded guilty Monday to insider trading charges, including trades on a 2011 deal for Atheros Communications, officials said.

Media venture creates press litigation fund

9 hours ago

The media venture created by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar said Monday it was establishing a fund to help defend journalists in cases involving freedom of the press.

Recommended for you

FDA approves hard-to-abuse narcotic painkiller

5 hours ago

(HealthDay)—A new formulation of a powerful narcotic painkiller that discourages potential abusers from snorting or injecting the drug has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Race affects opioid selection for cancer pain

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Racial disparities exist in the type of opioid prescribed for cancer pain, according to a study published online July 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

FDA approves tough-to-abuse formulation of oxycodone

6 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Targiniq ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride extended release) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a long-term, around-the-clock treatment for severe ...

Tough-to-abuse formulation of oxycodone approved

7 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Targiniq ER (oxycodone hydrochloride and naloxone hydrochloride extended release) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a long-term, around-the-clock treatment for severe pain when other ...

EU regulator: Morning-after pill OK for all women

Jul 24, 2014

(AP)—A commonly used morning-after pill is suitable for use by heavier women, the European Medicines Agency said Thursday after a review of the evidence sparked by the French manufacturer's declaration that the drugs didn't ...

Physicians warned about counterfeit medical devices

Jul 24, 2014

(HealthDay)—Physicians should be aware of the prevalence and serious consequences associated with use of counterfeit medical devices, according to a letter to the editor published online July 20 in Lasers in ...

User comments : 0