A new study conducted by the University of Queensland (UQ) discovered that fluoxetine, the main ingredient in Prozac, a common antidepressant, might contribute to the increasing antibiotic resistance and the generation of new superbugs strains of pathogenic bacteria. The study is of great importance for Australia which records the world’s second-highest rate of antidepressant prescriptions and also registers increased levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in hospitals.
The research focused on fluoxetine which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) developed in the 1970s and is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and eating disorders. Fluoxetine is the primary active ingredient in Prozac and other common antidepressants.
While the fluoxetine is the most widely accepted SSRI, Prozac is the world’s only antidepressant that can be prescribed for children over eight years old.
The new research carried out by the University of Queensland came after another recent study found out that triclosan from the toothpaste also boosts antibiotic resistance.
Fluoxetine common antidepressant might contribute to antibiotic resistance
According to the scientists, about 11% of the fluoxetine doses a patient regularly consumes are eliminated through urine and reach the waterways. Researchers theorized that this might have an impact on the bacteria in the environment and human body, as well.
They tested the effects of fluoxetine on E.coli K12 and observed that indeed this common antidepressant boosts the antibiotic resistance of the bacteria samples.
“This is a fundamental study. Fluoxetine is not an antibiotic, so we just wanted to assess if it’s a potential risk or not. We didn’t do an animal experiment or a human experiment to confirm it. In the future, we have to do an animal experiment or an in situ experiment to confirm it,” stated Doctor Jianhua Guo from the Advanced Water Management Center at the University of Queensland, and the study’s leading author.
In the meantime, according to the researchers, this common antidepressant might contribute to antibiotic resistance.