Prozac, dubbed "the happy drug" by some zealots, may need a new sobriquet soon when word gets out that it could cause sexual dysfunction in up to 34 per cent of users.
This alarming figure comes from an overlooked research paper published in 1992 by F M Jacobsen in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. In his paper, he found high levels of sexual problems among people taking fluoxetine.
Despite the findings, and those of an earlier paper, which found 7.8 per cent of patients with the same problems, the American drugs bible, the Physicians' Desk Reference, maintain that sexual problems occur in just 1.9 per cent.
Highlighting the two papers, Richard Balon from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, said that doctors need to assume that the risks are far higher, and treat the drug and then patients accordingly.
In a more recent study, carried out in 1993 by W M Patterson and again published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the rate of sexual dysfunction while on fluoxetine was as high as 75 per cent.
It's better than the old antipsychotic drug clomi-pramine, however. Sexual dysfunction with that drug was recorded at 92 per cent. Perhaps Prozac could be rechristened "the-not-quite-so-miserable drug" (JAMA, May 17, 1995).