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Titre du document / Document title

Chlorpheniramine, selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and over-the-counter (OTC) treatment

Auteur(s) / Author(s)


Résumé / Abstract

Some old antihistamines were selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the SSRI effect was discovered by Nobel Laureate Professor Arvid Carlsson as early as 1969. Chlorpheniramine was the most active of the tested drugs, and it compares favourably with amitriptyline and imipramine with respect to actions on both serotonergic and noradrenergic neurons. Chlorpheniramine can be called a SSRI, since the blocking of 5HT is stronger than the effect on noradrenaline neurons; however it might also be called a selective serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SSNRI) and be compared with new drugs, such as venlafaxine. Carlsson suggested the potential value of clinical studies of the antidepressant properties of this and related antihistamine drugs. But, in the event, no such trials were ever performed at the time. However, later clinical observations of the benefits of dexchlorpheniramine treatment in panic disorder have been published. Clinical experience suggests that patients using chlorpheniramine, and having also a concomitant depression or panic disorder, may experience a return of symptoms when their old drug is changed to a new antihistamine lacking SSRI effects. Yet this phenomenon is not known to many doctors, and even less known to the large number of patients buying chlorpheniramine under various trade names over-the-counter (OTC) at a low price for self-treatment of hay fewer or as a cold remedy. Chlorpheniramine was introduced in USA under the name Chlor-Trimeton as long ago as July 1950, and is still on the market. Therefore, this SSRI is now over 50 years old. If chlorpheniramine had been tested in depression in the nineteen seventies, it is probable that a safe, inexpensive SSRI drug could have been used some 15 years earlier than fluoxetine - which became available in 1987. Chlorpheniramine might have been the first safe, non-cardiotoxic and well-tolerated antidepressant. Billions of dollars in the development and marketing costs would have been saved, and the suffering of millions of patients alleviated.

Revue / Journal Title

Medical hypotheses    ISSN  0306-9877 

Source / Source

2006, vol. 66, no4, pp. 689-690 [2 page(s) (article)]

Langue / Language


Editeur / Publisher

Elsevier, Kidlington, ROYAUME-UNI  (1975) (Revue)

Localisation / Location

INIST-CNRS, Cote INIST : 18253, 35400013308169.0010

Nº notice refdoc (ud4) : 17579022

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