Do Pain Medications Reduce the Effectiveness of Anti-Depression Drugs?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

This is one of those stories with the potential to shift billions of dollars in pharmaceutical sales from one class of drugs to another, so we should all understand that there may be more than science motivating the conclusion.  However, it has been widely reported in the press and deserves discussion in this blog.

Depression is widely diagnosed in the USA.  It is also commonly treated with a class of anti-depressant drugs known as SSRI's (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).  Now, research from the Fisher Center for Alzheimer's Disease at the Rockefeller University suggests that the effects of these drugs can be largely negated by common pain killers such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

The most common SSRI's are well known by their brand names, Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil, and they constitute the most widely prescribed class of drugs in this country.  Millions of people spend millions of dollars annually to treat depression.  However, since pain medications are also commonly consumed, this research suggests a massive potential treatment conundrum.

I think it is fair to suggest that there may be a relationship between the efficacy of SSRI's and over-the-counter pain medications.   But it is also fair to recognize that this is merely a suggestive finding at this point, with no peer-reviewed publication describing the conclusion as yet. 

If a publication follows, and others duplicate the findings, this could become a very big story.  For now, it is a point of interest, and something to discuss with your physician if you feel your anti-depressant is ineffective.

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