Prozac boosts her outlook but ruins her love life

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY

August 29, 1999|By Joe Graedon, and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon, and Teresa Graedon,Special to the Sun

Q. Please help! I have been taking Prozac for three years, and the quality of my life has improved remarkably. Everything from my job to my home life has become so much richer. I've even gone back to school!

The only problem is that my libido has been clobbered. What was once a fulfilling and exciting sexual relationship with my husband is now basically nonexistent.

The thought of going off Prozac terrifies me. Would any other antidepressant have the same positive effects as Prozac without this one awful side effect? At 43, I'm too young to be through with sex, but the thought of living my life in a chronically depressed state is also unacceptable.

A. Antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft can improve a depressed person's outlook dramatically. But sexual side effects are not uncommon, including lowered libido and inability to achieve orgasm.

We have heard that Ginkgo biloba extract may be helpful in reversing this problem for some people. You may wish to discuss this approach with your doctor. If it is inappropriate or unsuccessful, your doctor might consider a different antidepressant. Wellbutrin, Celexa or Remeron may be less likely to interfere with your love life.

Q.I know that when a pharmaceutical company makes a new product, it charges big money because of all the testing. But I take a generic form of the pain reliever Darvocet-N. I paid $10.38 for 100 in March. In May, my refill cost $33.29. When I asked at the pharmacy, I was told this company is now the only one making the medicine, so it can charge whatever it pleases.

Is this legal? Is there any way to change it? A 300 percent increase is a bit much!

A.Generic drugs have usually been low-cost alternatives to expensive brand names. In recent years, however, we have seen some generic products skyrocket in price.

Our pharmacy consultant tells us that while there are several generic forms of Darvocet-N 100, they are all priced around $33. Even though this is significantly less than the more than $70 charged for an equivalent amount of Darvocet-N, it is substantially more than it used to be.

Other products that have become more expensive in recent years include the anti-anxiety agents lorazepam (Ativan) and alprazolam (Xanax).

We don't know why there has been such a change in pricing policy. Competition should prevent this sort of situation, but it doesn't seem to be working. We fear that there isn't much consumers can do to lower manufacturers' high prices for generic or brand-name drugs.

Q.Six years ago my wife gave up smoking. Since then, she has been hooked on Nicorette gum.

Although the package says to discontinue use after 12 weeks, my wife insists that she needs the satisfaction she gets from the gum. Is there any research regarding extended use of Nicorette gum? She chews three or four boxes each month.

A.Some people become dependent on nicotine gum. While this "addiction" is safer than smoking, we would encourage your wife to try phasing off gradually. Switching to a nicotine patch may be helpful in this effort.

In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or e-mail them via their Web site (www.peoplespharmacy.com).

King Feaures Syndicate

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