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MCA statement sent to The Times on 2 December 1997

"Mr Medawar's opinion that SSRIs cause dependence to the same extent as benzodiazepines is not supported by the evidence. Other regulatory authorities and professional bodies share the view of the MCA/CSM that current evidence does not show that SSRIs are associated with dependence. Although withdrawal reactions have been recognised with SSRIs, these drugs have not been associated with the other characteristics of dependence. In particular, dependence with benzodiazepines may include other features such as craving, drug seeking behaviour and dose escalation (tolerance).

Mr Medawar's use of yellow card data to support his views is flawed. Despite the known extent of benzodiazepine dependence, very few yellow card reports of this phenomenon have been submitted. Therefore his use of data to compare these two groups of drugs is inappropriate

The MCA has received reports of withdrawal reactions with all SSR1s, the greatest number of these have been in association with paroxetine. Prescribers were informed of withdrawal problems with paroxetine through an article in the drug safety bulletin 'Current Problems' and appropriate warnings appear in authorised product information.

The MCA has a worldwide reputation for effective medicines regulation in the interests of public health. The CSM is an independent body of eminent drug safety experts. A Code of Practice exists to avoid conflicts of interest, which might otherwise impair the objectivity of their advice.


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List of MCA/CSM Correspondence