With recent news events focused on violence and mental health, the debate over SSRI mediations has once again heated up. Regardless of the influence these drugs may or may not have on the behavior of certain individuals, there is no doubt drugs like Paxil do trigger serious side effects that are cause for concern.
Paxil is a medication used to treat a variety of emotional disorders, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, and several anxiety disorders. It is believed to work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain.
The drug promises a number of benefits, but it also comes with detailed warnings about potential side effects, including worsening of the existing medical condition, insomnia, hostility, impulsive or dangerous behavior, and thoughts of suicide. Less serious but more frequent side effects include nausea, sweating, loss of appetite, dizziness, nervousness, sexual problems, and digestive disorders.
There have also been reports of Paxil users developing serotonin syndrome, which occurs when the body has too much serotonin. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include increased heart rate, lack of coordination, digestive distress, muscle rigidity, overactive reflexes, and changes in mental status that could trigger hallucinations or agitation. Users sometimes experience manic episodes while taking Paxil that includes racing thoughts, excessive emotion, increased energy, and trouble sleeping.
Numerous Settlements in Paxil Lawsuits Related to Suicide
The manufacturer of Paxil, GlaxoSmithKline, is currently involved in a number of lawsuits related to Paxil's ability to negatively affect a user's mental and emotional well-being. Approximately 450 lawsuits have already been settled that included claims of suicide or suicidal behavior that led to injury. The company has paid nearly $400 million in compensation with an average settlement of $300,000 to $2 million per case depending the severity of the case.
Paxil Poses Danger to Pregnant Users
The company also faces a number of legal battles concerning the drug's effect on developing fetuses. There is mounting evidence that Paxil causes birth complications when taken by expectant mothers. The danger was severe enough that in 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory about increased health risks related to pregnancy and Paxil use. The risks included a variety of life-changing and debilitating birth defects.
One of the most notable settlements regarding Paxil and birth defects came in the case of Lyam Kilker. The Kilker case was the first to go to trial against GlaxoSmithKline and many believe it set the standard for future settlements.
Kilker's parents filed suit against GlaxoSmithKline when their son was diagnosed with two holes in his heart and an undeveloped aorta two weeks after birth. Open heart surgery would be needed to correct the problem. Lyam's mother had taken Paxil before and during her pregnancy to treat mild anxiety and panic attacks, and was unaware she was putting her baby at risk.
During the trial, the family's attorneys produced documents that showed GlaxoSmithKline had buried negative test results concerning Paxil and birth defects. The company had likely been aware of the risk as early as1980. The jury in the Kilker case found that GlaxoSmithKline had “negligently failed to warn” Lyam's mother's doctor about the risks and awarded the family damages of $2.5 million that included money toward past and future medical care. The award was twice what the Kilker's had requested in their suit. Click here to read more about this lawsuit.
GlaxoSmithKline's Marketing Comes under Scrutiny
GlaxoSmithKline also came under fire in recent years regarding its marketing of Paxil, Wellbutrin, another anti-depression drug, and Avandia, a drug intended to treat type 2 diabetes. The company agreed to pay $3 billion for illegally promoting the medications and failing to report safety risks associated with Avandia.