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GPs told not to prescribe tricyclics

GPs have been urged to stop prescribing tricyclic antidepressants to new patients after Government data revealed they are responsible for more than 90 per cent of all deaths from antidepressant overdose.

Unpublished research by the Office of National Statistics, obtained by Pulse, shows the risk of a patient taking a fatal overdose is almost 13 times higher for amitriptyline ­ the most commonly prescribed tricyclic ­ than for Prozac, the most popular SSRI.

Study leader Professor Azeem Majeed, a south London GP and medical epidemiologist at the ONS, said GPs could cut the number of deaths caused by antidepressant overdose by reducing the number of patients on tricyclics. He added: 'Certainly I always use SSRIs firstline.'

He said there were some patients taking tricylics who 'perhaps shouldn't'. He added: 'There's no reason to change if patients have been on tricyclics for many years. But GPs may want to consider switching newer patients to SSRIs.'

GPs in England and Wales wrote 10 million prescriptions for tricyclics and 13 million for SSRIs last year.

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