Thursday, May 15, 2008

Serotonin Syndrome in the News

MedlinePlus, a service of the US National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health defines Serotonin Syndrome:

Serotonin syndrome is a life-threatening drug reaction that causes the body to have too much serotonin, a chemical produced by nerve cells.
And cites the cause:
Serotonin Syndrome most often occurs when two drugs that affect the body's level of serotonin are taken together at the same time. The drugs cause too much serotonin to be released or to remain in the brain area.
An example of this is taking a Selective Serotonin Receptor Agonist also known as a Triptan while you are taking a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) or Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI). In other words using Imitrex aka Sumatriptan (a Triptan) while taking Prozac (an SSRI) or Cymbalta (an SNRI) can cause Serotonin Syndrome.

It is believed that changes in serotonin is involved in causing Migraine attacks. More about it can be found HERE. This information has been around for a while so.....

Why is Serotonin Syndrome in the news?

In the
May 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Georgetown University researchers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration detail 11 cases of Serotonin Syndrome associated with the use of triptans alone that were reported to the FDA's Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS)."

Offie Soldin, an associate professor of medicine and oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center and the study's lead author said:
The FDA has already issued an advisory and an alert that when triptans are used in combination with SSRIs, there is a possibility of serotonin syndrome. The news here is that it doesn't have to be in combination, triptans alone can cause serotonin syndrome
Soldin also stressed that this is very rare and unlike to happen saying: just need to stop taking the drugs when it does happen. If you're taking these medications and you have strange muscular, mental or hyperactivity symptoms, contact your doctor.
More information can be found in this Washington Post article.


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