A Common Antidepressant Might Help Bacteria Become Superbugs

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A common antidepressant, sold under the brand name Prozac, could be helping some bacteria build resistance to antibiotics, suggests a new study from Australia. The study, published in Environment International, found that fluoxetine was capable of inducing antibiotic resistance in laboratory strains of Escherichia coli.

Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), a class of drug that prevents certain neurons in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin, a neurotransmitter. People with clinical depression often have less serotonin freely available, and SSRIs boost these levels, helping treat the condition to some extent.

In recent years, though, there’s some research showing that SSRIs such as fluoxetine can also kill off bacteria and other microbes, sparking interest in them being used as a

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