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Quarter of a million antidepressants prescribed

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NHS Trusts in Northern Ireland have spent almost GBP 7 million on the antidepressant drug Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride) in the past eight years, it has been revealed.

The figures show that since 2000, doctors have made out 254,440 prescriptions for Prozac, costing GBP 6.8 million (EUR 8,604,341).

This does not include the increasing number of prescriptions for generic versions of the drug, so the actual cost of fluoxetine hydrochloride is likely to be much higher.

The Department of Health has said it will provide additional funding for mental health services, with GBP 54 million being invested over the next three years.

A support group said more funding could help widen the choices open to patients. Sharon Sinclair, chief executive of support group Aware Defeat Depression, said: “We have felt for some time that antidepressants were being over prescribed in some areas and the treatment preferences of the majority of sufferers with mild to moderate depression were simply not being provided for.”

She said additional treatments included attending self-help support groups, exercise, psychological therapies and counselling. Ms Sinclair said research had also shown talking informally helps sufferers, whether that is with friends and family or someone on a helpline.

Copyright PA Business 2008

NHS

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“It is important for primary care prescribers to treat depression
aggressively in order to save lives and reduce hospital admissions. There can be dangerous delays in the provision of psychological therapies. Once in hospital, patients need to be confident they will receive full assessment and the indicated treatment including antidepressants. Less than GBP 1m per annum sounds cheap to me! More generic prescribing will reduce the cost even further.” – Paul Chapple, Northumberland, UK

“I am not surprised. Almost everyone suffering from chronic diseases need some kind of therapy for accompanying depression. That includes counselling, meditation, yoga, etc. In my field – pain medicine – I have to advise almost all of my patients of these treatments. Doctors who do not have access to these therapies usually have to prescribe antidepressants. Prozac, with its wide safety margin and easy availability, is the natural choice.” – Abhijit Bhattacharya, Malaysia

“Yes, yes, yes!” – Emrah Aras, Turkey

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