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Experts worry about skyrocketing prescriptions for antidepressants

The number of prescriptions for antidepressants has reached a record high in the United Kingdom, and experts fear that some people may be unnecessarily exposed to antidepressant side effects. The Health and Social Care Information Centre released the new figures on prescription drugs, which showed antidepressant use had risen by one-third in just a year, and that about four million Britons are taking the drugs each year – twice as many compared to 10 years ago. Representatives from mental health agencies say they worry that people suffering from depression are prescribed drugs as a first-line defense because other forms of ... Read More

Celexa, Lexapro birth defects lawsuits returned to state court

Fifteen lawsuits over birth defects in children born to women who took the antidepressants Celexa or Lexapro while pregnant were remanded to state court, a federal judge in Camden, N.J., ruled. Attorneys for the drugs’ maker Forest Laboratories unsuccessfully argued that federal jurisdiction was proper because there were questions about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) labeling of the drugs. Defendants’ claims that Forest Research Institute was fraudulently joined as a defendant were rejected as well. The 15 lawsuits are among 20 that were filed in state courts in New Jersey and removed to federal court by the drug companies. ... Read More

SSRIs increase risk of birth defects but not stillbirth or infant death

Taking antidepressants during pregnancy does not increase the chances that the baby will die in utero or shortly after birth, a new study suggests. However, using the medication while pregnant does increase the likelihood that babies will be born with birth defects. The study is based on a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, which include the brand-name drugs Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro and Prozac. Researchers studied 1.6 million women who delivered singletons in Nordic countries from 1996 to 2007. Before accounting for risks that can potentially lead to stillbirth or infant death, researchers noticed a ... Read More

Gene scanning gives more accurate, detailed results than conventional prenatal testing

Prenatal testing can give expectant parents insight into the health of their unborn child, but the tests are not foolproof. A new wider use of gene testing in early pregnancy that involves scanning the genes of a fetus can give more accurate results about potential health risks than current prenatal testing. A study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine compared current prenatal testing to gene scanning and found that a surprisingly high number – 6 percent – of fetuses that were found to be normal by conventional testing were found through gene scans to have genetic ... Read More

New iPad app helps identify best antidepressant for patients

A new iPad app can help doctors determine the best antidepressant to treat patients. The new Clinaptica Depression Consultant app was developed by Scaled Psychiatric Systems, Inc. It costs $4.95 at the App Store, and is designed to go beyond any previous system for people with depressive disorders to recommend antidepressant therapies specific to different patient characteristics. Arizona Physician Dr. Rakesh Patel has used an online version of the program since 2006 and says the treatment recommendations have been “spot on almost every time.” A multi-study presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in 2009 showed that a sample ... Read More

Legitimacy of PMDD considered in newest edition of DSM

Currently, doctors and psychiatrists are weighing the legitimacy of a condition known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) to determine if it deserves a listing in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association’s bible for mental health professionals. A new edition of the DSM has not been issued since 1987, and in it PMDD is not considered an actual disorder but rather a condition in need of “further study.” Granting PMDD its own diagnosis in the DSM will almost certainly guarantee one thing – that drug companies will be clamoring to create a drug to ... Read More

BMJ confirms FDA’s warning that SSRIs can cause birth defects

In January, the British Medical Journal reaffirmed a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning when it published a study that showed a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), were linked to serious birth defects in newborns when taken by the mothers while they were pregnant. SSRIs include the brand names Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Prozac, and the birth defects associated with these pills include heart defects, lung conditions, brain and spine defects, skull deformities, club foot, and abdominal defects. That study followed warnings from several institutions and medical publications such as the New England ... Read More

Birth defects lawsuits filed against makers of antidepressant Lexapro

Three new lawsuits have been filed against the makers of the antidepressant Lexapro by women who claim that using the drug during pregnancy caused them to deliver babies with various birth defects including spina bifida and club foot. Lexapro is in a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Other drugs in this class include the brand names Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac. SSRIs are among the most prescribed medications in the country and have been considered relatively safe to use during pregnancy because there were no tests that suggested the drugs could cause problems in developing ... Read More

OTC painkillers during pregnancy may slightly increase risk of rare birth defects

Pregnant women who use over-the-counter painkillers during their first trimester are at a slight risk for delivering babies with rare birth defects, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The study showed that babies exposed to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, Advil (ibuprofen), or Aleve (naproxen), were three times more likely to be born with no eyes or with abnormally small eyeballs that can lead to blindness. These mothers were also at three times more likely to develop amniotic band syndrome, a condition that can result in malformations in the ... Read More

Parents file birth defects lawsuit against makers of Zoloft

Parents of children with birth defects who were exposed to the antidepressant Zoloft during gestation are suing the drug maker claiming the mothers took the antidepressant only because they believed it to be a safe medication to take during pregnancy. The plaintiffs allege that their children were born with varying birth defects including heart defects, neural tube defects, gastroschisis, omphalocele, craniosynostosis, cleft lip, club foot, anal atresia, and limb reduction defects. They blame the drug. “Pfizer knew or should have known that Zoloft crosses the placenta, which could have important implications for the developing fetus,” the lawsuit states. The plaintiffs ... Read More