In the March-April 2006 edition of Consumer Magazine (of the United States Food and Drug Administration), an important update was provided regarding the safety of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors for developing babies.

Here is the full update, titled “Paxil and the Risk of Birth Defects”:

“Early results of new studies for Paxil (paroxetine) suggest that the drug increases the risk of birth defects, particularly heart defects, when women take it during the first three months of pregnancy. Paxil is approved to treat depression and several other psychiatric disorders. The FDA is gathering additional data and waiting for final results of the studies to better understand the higher risk of birth defects.

The FDA advises health care professionals to discuss this potential risk with women who plan to become pregnant or are in the first three months of pregnancy. Health care professionals should consider discontinuing Paxil and switching to another antidepressant in these patients. But for some women who have already been taking Paxil, the benefits of continuing the drug may be greater than the potential risk to the fetus.

“Stopping these medicines on your own can sometimes create more problems than it solves,” says Sandra Kweder, M.D., deputy director of the FDA’s Office of New Drugs. “A lot of these medicines are associated with withdrawal syndromes, which can be very problematic for many patients, so stopping is something that needs to be monitored carefully by your doctor.”

The FDA advises health care professionals not to prescribe Paxil in women who are in the first three months of pregnancy or are planning pregnancy, unless other treatment options are not appropriate.

Early results of two studies indicate that women who took Paxil during the first three months of pregnancy were about one and a half to two times as likely to have a baby with a heart defect as women who received other antidepressants or women in the general population. Most of the heart defects reported in these studies were holes in the walls of the chambers of the heart (atrial and ventricular septal defects).

The FDA has asked Paxil’s manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) of Research Triangle Park, N.C., to change the drug’s pregnancy category from C to D, which is a stronger warning. Category D means that studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus.

GSK updated the drug’s labeling in September 2005 to add data from one study. As additional data have become available, the label has been changed to reflect the latest data.

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Because many women have used Paxil unaware of the risk for these birth defects, a number of Paxil® birth defect lawsuits have been filed.

If you or a loved one used Paxil and gave birth to a child with a congenital malformation or who suffered perinatal complications, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.  For a free, no-obligation case consultation, contact our team of Paxil® birth defects lawyers at the information provided below.  We have the experience, resources, and skills required to win the justice you deserve.  Call today and see how we can help.

(855) 452 – 5529

Our SSRI Birth Defects Lawsuit Information page is a great place to start if you have any questions about SSRIs and Birth Defects.