Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Psychiatric Drug Might Alter Behavior of Fish, Study Shows

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Psychiatric Drug Might Alter Behavior of Fish, Study Shows

Article excerpt

Traces of a common psychiatric medication that winds up in rivers and streams may affect fish behavior and feeding patterns, according to a new study in the journal Science.

Traces of a common psychiatric medication that winds up in rivers and streams may affect fish behavior and feeding patterns, according to a new study in the journal Science.

Researchers in Sweden exposed wild European perch to water with different concentrations of oxazepam, a generic anti-anxiety medication that can show up in waterways after being flushed, excreted or discarded.

Researchers reported that fish exposed to oxazepam became less social and more active and ate faster, behaviors they said could have long-term consequences for aquatic ecosystems.

Scientists who study pharmaceuticals in waterways said the research was intriguing because it examined the potential effect on animals of a specific medication designed to affect human behavior.

"It seems to be a solid study with an environmentally relevant species," said Donald Tillitt, an environmental toxicologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who was not involved in the study. It makes sense that a medication that binds with a certain brain receptor in people could act similarly in fish, he said, and the measures of behavior -- activity, sociability, boldness and feeding rate -- "are all important ones that we like to look at when we're trying to see the environmental effects of pharmaceuticals. …

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