Shock figure of Prozac prescriptions

MORE than 50,000 prescriptions for controversial anti-depressant drug Prozac were issued by doctors in Suffolk last year, new figures have revealed.The staggering statistic came to light following a parliamentary question tabled by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring and highlights the extent of mental health issues in the county.

MORE than 50,000 prescriptions for controversial anti-depressant drug Prozac were issued by doctors in Suffolk last year, new figures have revealed.

The staggering statistic came to light following a parliamentary question tabled by West Suffolk MP Richard Spring and highlights the extent of mental health issues in the county.

Although the exact number of patients being treated with Prozac is not recorded, the figure - which covers the 11 months from April 2007 to the end of February this year - indicates several thousand people in Suffolk regularly take the drug.

However it has emerged that this figure is actually a decrease in the number of prescriptions - down from 66,258 in 2005/6.

Many more people will take other forms of anti-depressant medication.

Prozac has been at the centre of controversy on a number of occasions amid suggestions healthy people can develop suicidal tendencies after taking the drug.

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Leading mental health expert, Raza Ahmed, director of operations at East Suffolk Mind, said the drop relates to wider availability of non-pharmaceutical treatment.

He said he expects the trend to continue with a number of new initiatives being launched in Suffolk in the coming months.

These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions which are administered via computer software rather than one-to-one treatment which can involve a lengthy waiting list.

Meanwhile around a dozen specialist “link workers” will be assigned to practices around the county to offer help and advice to those in need of it.

He said: “There is a need for medication of course, but often a range of approaches that help people, not one magic cure or treatment.”

“All of these are coming together and improving the treatment experience for people.”

Are you satisfied with provision for mental health issues in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Financial year Number of items dispensed

2003-04 65,945

2004-05 64,486

2005-06 66,258

2006-07 62,364

2007-08 53,688

Prozac (Fluoxetine hydrochloride) is prescribed for a number of conditions including clinical depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks.

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