* Larium under investigation
The US army has launched a study into the side-effects of antimalarial drug mofloquine (Lariam) following allegations that the drug might be linked to suicides among the troops stationed in Iraq. Four of the 21 soldiers who’d committed suicide had taken the drug, and six others had committed suicide on returning to the US. In addition, five other deaths are being examined in the study (BMJ, 2004; 328: 660).
* Use of antidepressants increasing
In addition to food and style, Italy is beginning to be a serious contender for use of SSRI medication among children. At present, 2.8 out of every 1000 children receive at least one antidepressant, mostly SSRIs. Although use is lower than in the US (1-2 per cent) or the Netherlands (4.4 per 1000), it totals some 28,000 young people taking antidepressants – 21,000 of them SSRIs. Usage has quadrupled between 2000 and 2002. These drugs are not licensed for children (BMJ, 2004; 328: 712).
* Oestrogen study stopped
The final nail in the coffin for oestrogen on its own as a potential drug for preventing heart disease has now been hammered in. In the US National Institutes of Health’s massive Women’s Health Initiative, the use of oestrogen only as a heart-health preventative was halted on discovering a slightly increased risk of stroke among women in the trial. The study included only women without a uterus.
In addition, the study showed that oestrogen had no affect on the heart. The trial, which involved some 10,000 women altogether, showed that oestrogen did not increase the risk of breast cancer, but did reduce osteoporosis (BMJ, 2004; 328: 602).