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Anti-seizure drug linked to increased risk of childhood autism when taken during pregnancy

Pregnant women who take the epilepsy drug valproate, also known by the brand name Depacon, may increase the risk of childhood autism and its spectrum disorders in their unborn babies, a new study suggests. Depacon is used to treat epileptic seizures and mania associated with bipolar disorder, as well as to prevent migraines. The drug already has a black box warning for increasing the risk of serious birth defects in fetuses exposed in utero. The drug’s warning label urges women of childbearing age to weigh the benefits of valporate against the risk of fetal injury, such as neural tube defects including ... Read More

Large study finds anti-nausea drug is safe for pregnant women

Reassurance that drugs are safe to use during pregnancy is hard to come by, especially since it is too risky to run clinical trials on pregnant women to determine whether a drug can cause birth defects. And what if a drug is designed to actually treat a bothersome symptom of pregnancy, such as morning sickness? How can a woman be sure the drug is safe for her developing fetus? Now, researchers say they can give women some peace of mind about using an anti-nausea drug while they are pregnant. A large study on Danish women shows that GlaxoSmithKline’s drug Zofran, ... Read More

New drug reaction warnings placed on SSRI and SNRI antidepressants

Patients who use some types of antidepressants with other serotonergic drugs are at an increased risk for developing a potentially life threatening drug reaction known as serotonin syndrome. The drug labels for several antidepressants in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) classes now contain a new warning that the drugs should not be used with other serotonergic drugs (including Triptans, Tricyclic antidepressants, Fentanyl, Lithium, Tramadol, Tryptonphan, Buspirone, and St. John’s Wort) and with drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (in particular, MAOIs, both those intended to treat psychiatric disorders and also others, such as Linezolid and ... 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

SSRIs increase risk of major bleeding events in patients on warfarin

Antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been linked to an increased risk of major bleeding in patients who are also taking the blood thinner warfarin. Warfarin is widely prescribed to treat various conditions including the prevention and treatment of blood clots. The blood thinner has been on the market more than 50 years and already carries a warning for major bleeding, such as gastrointestinal bleeds and intracranial hemorrhage, both of which can be deadly. The new findings were announced earlier this month at the American Heart Association annual meeting in Los Angeles. SSRIs include the brand names Celexa, ... Read More

SSRIs may increase stroke risk

Taking the most common type of antidepressant can increase the risk of certain types of strokes, according to a study published in the journal Neurology. The new research builds on previous studies that linked use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to major bleeding, such as gastrointestinal bleeding. SSRIs include brand name drugs Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro and Prozac. SSRIs are thought to inhibit the clumping together of platelets, which could cause internal bleeding. The new study focused on antidepressant use and stroke. Canadian researchers analyzed 16 studies and found that of the combined 500,000 participants, those taking SSRIs were 51 ... Read More

Antidepressants among the most prescribed drugs in 2011

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 ... Read More

New generic Lexapro has same risk profile as brand-name drug

Lupin Pharmaceuticals announced it has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market Escitalopram Tablets (Escitalopram oxalate), a generic version of the antidepressant Lexapro. The medication is indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder in adults and adolescents aged 12-17 years. It is also used to treat general anxiety disorder in adults. Lexapro, and its generic Escitalopram, are in a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. They are among the most prescribed medications in the United States. Brand-name Lexapro generated approximately $2.7 billion in sales for the year ending June 2012. ... Read More

Company apologizes for birth defects caused by drug given to pregnant women

German drug maker Gruenenthal Group is apologizing to women who took its morning sickness medication Thalidomide in the 1950s and 1960s, and to their children who suffered congenital birth defects as a result. The apology comes 50 years after the drug was pulled off the market for causing babies to be born with shortened arms and legs or with no limbs at all. “We ask that you regard our long silence as a sign of the shock that your fate caused in us,” said Harald Stock, Gruenenthal Group’s chief executive, during an unveiling of a statute in the drug company’s ... Read More

Should you take antidepressants while pregnant?

Feeling depressed when pregnant goes against the ultimate joy society tells us we should feel when carrying a child. But many pregnant women – including some with no prior history of the condition – will get the blues. Deciding whether to take medication to treat the symptoms of depression during pregnancy is a difficult one to face. When women become pregnant, the level of the female hormone progesterone dramatically increases. For some women, it can also increase the level of an enzyme that breaks down serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, causing symptoms of depression. Numerous studies have estimated that ... Read More