• spontaneous reporting systems;
  • adverse reaction;
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors;
  • alopecia



To study the association between alopecia and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) by estimating reporting rates and by making association comparisons within databases of adverse drug reactions (ADRs).


All reports of alopecia with marketed SSRIs until the end of 2004 were identified in SWEDIS, the national Swedish database for spontaneously reported ADRs, and in Vigibase, the international ADR database of the World Health Organization. Total SSRI sales volumes in Sweden until the end of 2004 were obtained from the National Corporation of Swedish Pharmacies. The Bayes' Confidence Propagation Neural Network (BCPNN) method was used to estimate associations between alopecia and each of the SSRIs within the two databases.


A total of 27 reports of alopecia were identified in SWEDIS. As two reports concerned the use of two SSRIs, there was a total of 29 drug-ADR combinations. All except three reports concerned women (88.9%). The reporting rate of alopecia in Sweden was significantly higher with sertraline compared with citalopram; 20.1 (95%CI 10.7–34.4) reports per million patient-years versus 4.5 (95%CI 1.8–9.3) reports per million patient-years. No significant differences in reporting rates were noted for the remaining SSRIs. Sertraline also showed a statistically significant association with alopecia in both SWEDIS and Vigibase. Citalopram was significantly associated with alopecia in Vigibase, but not in SWEDIS. No statistically significant associations were found for any of the other SSRIs.


Alopecia appears to be a rare ADR to SSRIs. The risk of alopecia seems to vary between the different SSRIs, and might be higher in women than in men. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.