Antidepressants could be fueling superbug growth, study finds

A common antidepressant could be causing antibiotic resistance and contributing to the development of superbugs, according to a study published in Environmental International

The study, led by Dr. Jianhua Guo from the advanced water management center at the University of Queensland in Australia, examined the prescription drug fluoxetine — a common ingredient in antidepressants such as Prozac and Lovan.

Laboratory tests found certain bacteria exposed to fluoxetine for weeks or months mutated and became resistant to several antibiotics, Dr. Guo said.

"Our common understanding is that overuse and misuse of antibiotics is generally considered the major factor contributing to the creation of superbugs," he told ABC News Online. "However, our study could change or advance our understanding, because nonantibiotic pharmaceuticals such as fluoxetine can directly induce antibiotic resistance."

But Dr. Steve Kisely, chair of the psychiatrists group at the Australian Medical Association, said the findings should be kept in context.

"What happens in the lab can be very different to what happens in real life," Dr. Kisely told ABC News Online. "I'd be concerned that people will get alarmed … we need further research before we make any clear-cut recommendations."

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