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MDs warned about kids, SSRI drugs
The Canadian Press

TORONTO -- Health Canada is warning that anyone under 18 who is taking a newer type of antidepressant should check with their doctor to confirm "that the benefits of the drug still outweigh its potential risks" in light of recent safety concerns.

The warning applies to drugs know by the acronyms SSRIs and SNRIs.

"Some of these drugs may be associated with an increased risk of suicide-related events in patients under 18," said Jirina Vlk, a Health Canada spokesman.

She said Health Canada asked pharmaceutical companies last August to provide a review of worldwide safety data for their antidepressants when used by children. An expert panel is being formed this month to go over the material Health Canada received.

Although SSRIs and SNRIs are not approved by Health Canada for use by children, doctors rely on their knowledge of patients to determine whether to prescribe them at their discretion in a practice called off-label use.

Health Canada said it does not recommend that pediatric patients discontinue use of a newer antidepressant without first checking with their doctor.

"Treatment with these drugs should not be abruptly stopped due to the risk of discontinuation symptoms," it said.

The advisory applies to the following antidepressants: Wellbutrin, Celexa, Luvox, Remeron, Paxil, Zoloft and Effexor.

Vlk said Health Canada is monitoring hearings being held in Washington by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the issue of pediatric use of antidepressants.

In December, British health officials advised doctors that SSRIs are not suitable for children under 18. The FDA has advised doctors to use great caution if they prescribe antidepressants to young people.

© The Vancouver Province 2004


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