Millions awarded to women in Paxil, birth defects lawsuits

GlaxoSmithKline has awarded millions of dollars in compensation to women who took the antidepressant Paxil (paroxetine) while pregnant and delivered babies with serious birth defects.

Paxil is a type of medication known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and is prescribed for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorder. Other brands of SSRIs include Zoloft, Lexapro, Prosac and Celexa. Paxil is considered more toxic to unborn babies than any other SSRI, and is listed as a Category D drug. All other SSRI drugs are Category C drugs, meaning they are safer for use during pregnancy.

Since 2005, studies have linked Paxil to birth defects including cardiac (heart) defects, pulmonary (lung) defects, neural tube defects (brain and spinal cord), craniosynostosis (abnormally shaped skull), infant omphalocele (abdominal wall defects), club foot (one or both feet turn downward and inward), and anal atresia (complete or partial closure of the anus).

Newer studies also have linked the antidepressant to an increased risk of Neonatal Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN).

More recent studies have also linked serious birth defects with other types of SSRIs, which has led some people to question whether all SSRIs should be labeled as Category D drugs and avoided during pregnancy.

Anyone who has taken an SSRI during pregnancy and delivered a child with a birth defect may have a case against the drug’s maker.