Antidepressants were the seventh most prescribed drugs in 2011, with the psychiatric drugs Xanax, Zoloft and Celexa leading the pack, according to the journal ACS Chemical Neurosciences. While sales of all antidepressants dropped from $11.6 billion in 2010 to $11 billion in 2011, some experts say the use of antidepressants in America is excessive and could be causing more problems for some.
Pfizer’s cholesterol drug Lipitor ranked No. 1 in pharmaceutical sales in the United States, with a whopping $7.7 billion in revenue. Bristol-Myers Squibb’s antipsychotic Ability ranked No. 4 with $5.2 billion in sales.
Both Zoloft and Celexa are in a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Other drugs in this class include Paxil, Lexapro and Prozac. These antidepressants also have generic equivalents.
SSRIs can be helpful in treating the symptoms of depression but the drugs come with significant risks that should be weighed against the benefits, Dr. James Flack, assistant medical director for The Menninger Clinic in Houston, told the Houston Business Journal. “Psychotherapy is just as helpful, if not more so, than medications.”
One of the side effects of SSRIs is one that goes seemingly unnoticed until it is too late. Studies have suggested that using SSRIs during pregnancy may increase the risk of serious birth defects. These include heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension (a lung disorder), and defects of the brain and spinal cord. Some children have been born with malformations such as clubfoot or cleft lip/palate.
Recent studies linked SSRI use during pregnancy to high blood pressure in the mother, which can lead to preeclampsia, a potentially life threatening condition for both mother and baby.
Source: Houston Business Journal