Warning to millions on antidepressants for chronic pain as scientists find 'drugs don't work | The Sun

HAPPY pills are being wrongly prescribed to millions of Brits with chronic pain, scientists say.

A major study found there is “insufficient evidence” that the drugs, including amitriptyline, fluoxetine and citalopramgive, provide any relief.

Around a third of people living in long-term agony are prescribed the pills.

The study — the largest ever investigation into using the drugs for chronic pain — looked at 176 trials consisting of nearly 30,000 patients.

Professor Tamar Pincus from the University of Southampton said: “This is a global public health concern.

“Chronic pain is a problem for millions who are prescribed antidepressants without sufficient scientific proof they help, nor an understanding of the long-term impact on health.

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“Our review found no reliable evidence for the long-term efficacy of any antidepressant, and no reliable evidence for their safety for chronic pain at any point.”

Around 15million Brits — a third of the population — live with chronic pain, defined as pain lasting more than two months.

Because of its wide range of causes, treatments can vary with many focusing on improving quality of life around pain, including through techniques like mindfulness.

Antidepressants are dished out for pain because they are thought to affect the chemical signals between nerves that cause it.

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The two-year Cochrane review looked at whether this is the case in reality and if it is safe to use them for long periods.

It assessed antidepressants recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Amitriptyline was found to be the most commonly prescribed antidepressant for chronic pain worldwide, thanks to its relative cheapness.

Around 10million prescriptions were given to patients in England last year at the 10mg dose recommended for pain.

The only drug found to have reliable evidence behind its use was duloxetine, which was dished out 3.5million times.

But long-term studies into its use were still lacking, researchers said.

Dr Pincus said: “The last thing I want patients to do is come off their meds. If they want to come off them, they need to talk to their GPs. 

“What we want is GPs to prioritise drugs that have been shown to work and that is only duloxetine.”

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