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Anti-depressants

Volume 476: debated on Monday 2 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research (a) his Department and (b) the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has evaluated on the effect of anti-depressant selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors on immune systems. (206370)

The Department has not commissioned research on the effect of anti-depressant selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors on immune systems.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has issued a clinical guideline for the national health service on the management of depression in primary and secondary care. This guideline, along with the evidence NICE considered in developing it can be found at:

www.nice.org.uk/guidance/index.jsp?action=byID&o=10958

Clinical trials submitted at the time of licensing have examined the safety and efficacy of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These data are carefully evaluated by the independent scientific advisory committee, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) prior to licensing to ensure that the products work and are acceptably safe. The longer term safety of the use of SSRIs in routine clinical practice is closely monitored by MHRA including reports of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) submitted by health professionals through the ‘Yellow Card’ Scheme. All new data, including data relating to the effects of SSRIs on immune system disorders, are carefully evaluated. Where appropriate, product information for prescribers and patients is updated and advice issued.

As with all effective medicines, SSRIs may cause side effects in some individuals and it is recognised that SSRIs can rarely cause hypersensitivity reactions including rashes, angioedema (swelling of the eyelids, face, lips, mouth or tongue) and anaphylaxis (a severe hypersensivity reaction that can cause difficulty with breathing). This is reflected in the product information for both prescribers and patients and their use is contra-indicated in patients that are known to be hypersensitive to the drug substance.