What is Fluoxetine?

Fluoxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or SSRI. This group of drugs alter the levels of chemicals in the brain. They are most often used to treat patients with depression but have other effects on the way the brain works. There is some evidence fluoxetine may speed up and enhance recovery after brain damage.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part the brain is stopped-either by a bleed into the brain or a blood clot. The effects can vary depending on the part of the brain affected.

What is the impact of stroke?

In the UK 150,000 people have a new stroke each year, and stroke is the main cause of disability in the community. Although there have been major advances in stroke treatments in the last few years, new treatments are still needed to reduce the long-term physical and emotional problems faced by stroke survivors.

Can a simple pill help stroke recovery?

Recovery from stroke can take many weeks or months and involve physiotherapy and other rehabilitation efforts by patient, carers and professionals. The aim of the FOCUS trial is to see if treatment with fluoxetine can speed up the rate of recovery and reduce long-term disability.

Small studies have shown that fluoxetine may have other beneficial effects on the brain, and may even help repair the damage caused by stroke. This may reduce the wide range of physical, psychological and emotional problems that are common after stroke. Much larger trials, such as FOCUS, are needed to confirm whether fluoxetine is beneficial before it can be used in routine care.

Who is running the trial?

The trial is jointly led by Professors Gillian Mead and Martin Dennis from the University of Edinburgh. Both of them are experienced stroke physicians with a long track record in stroke research.

The FOCUS trial relies on the collaboration of many people working for a wide range of organisations including:

  • University of Edinburgh
  • National Health Service
  • The UK Stroke research network including their User group
  • The Scottish Stroke Research Network
  • University of Dundee
  • University of Leeds
  • The George Institute, New South Wales
  • University of Western Australia
  • Karolinska Institute, Stockholm

Parallel trials addressing the same questions are planned in Australia (the AFFINITY trial) and Scandinavia (the EFFECTS trial)

Further Information

Further information can be found in the following downloadable PDF:

 Study Summary PDF