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Prozac Shows Promise As Multiple Sclerosis Treatment

Proof-of-concept study for fluoxetine shows it warrants further study

THURSDAY, May 1 (HealthDay News) -- A proof-of-concept trial of fluoxetine (Prozac) to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis has shown that it tends to reduce the formation of new lesions, according to a report published online May 1 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

Jop P. Mostert, M.D., of the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 40 patients without depression and with relapsing-remitting or relapsing secondary-progressive multiple sclerosis who were randomized to receive either a daily dose of 20 mg of oral fluoxetine or placebo for 24 weeks.

By the end of the study, 19 patients in both groups had completed the treatment, during which time the fluoxetine group developed a mean 1.84 new lesions while the control group developed a mean 5.16 new lesions, the investigators found. While 25 percent of the fluoxetine group had scans showing new enhancing lesions the figure was 41 percent for the placebo group, the report indicates. In the last 16 weeks of the trial, the mean cumulative number of new enhancing lesions was 1.21 for the fluoxetine group and 3.16 for the control group.

"The results of our exploratory trial are sufficiently encouraging to justify further studies with fluoxetine in patients with multiple sclerosis," the authors write. "Higher doses of fluoxetine and combination treatment with immunomodulatory drugs should be considered."

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