Paroxetine hydrochloride is an antidepressant that has been causing concern at the UK's Committee on Safety of Medicines. Manufactured by SmithKline Beecham, it is part of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) family which also includes
It's been suspected of causing hepatitis in six cases in the UK, although only two were subsequently confirmed by biopsy.
Nonetheless, liver damage has been frequently linked to the drug, and 54 cases have been reported to the Committee on Safety of Medicines.
The drug might also cause the eye disease glaucoma, as happened with one 84 year old woman.
Taking any SSRI with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) can be lethal. Mixing the two drugs can trigger hyperthermia, and sudden changes in mental states leading to delirium and coma.
But the SSRIs can cause damage without the assistance of another drug. In tests, the drug was found to bring on mania attacks, seizures, suicidal tendencies and abnormal bleeding.
Overall, up to 20 per cent of people suffering from depression have to stop taking the drug because of some adverse reaction, such as insomnia, agitation, tremors, anxiety, dizziness, constipation, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, impotence and sweating.
The figure falls to around 12 per cent in patients taking the drug for panic attacks or obsessive compulsive disorders.
Over one quarter of all patients will suffer nausea while on the drug, the most common reaction, noted in 26 per cent of all users. This is followed by drowsiness (23 per cent), headache and dry mouth (both 18 per cent).