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The Paxil Drug Lawsuit

Paroxetine, marketed as Paxil, was introduced in 1992 to treat major depression, panic disorder, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and generalized anxiety. Unfortunately, Paxil has been linked to an increased risk of suicide in young users and birth defects.

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What is Paxil?

Paxil is a potent selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and has been successful at helping thousands of individuals throughout the United States who suffer from severe mental health disorders. It has also been used to treat chronic headaches, diabetic side-effects, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and bipolar disorder. Paxil was approved for use in the United States in 1992. Marketed and sold by SmithKline Beecham, a British pharmaceuticals company that is now GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), it rose in popularity through the 2000s to become the fifth-most prescribed antidepressant in the U.S. At its height in 2007, experts estimate doctors were writing more than 18 million prescriptions for this medication. In 2004, the FDA investigated the drug and released a new warning. According to the FDA, Paxil can increase the risk for suicidal tendencies if taken by young adults 18 to 24 years of age. Shortly after the FDA warning, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) modified their marketing and warning labels to warn users of the increased risk to young users. Over the years, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has experienced a variety of legal issues. They have been accused of promoting Paxil to children, failing to label Paxil correctly, stalling the sale of the generic medication, and withholding safety information.

What is Paxil used for?

Paxil is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and can successfully treat a variety of disorders including depression, anxiety, and premenstrual syndrome dysphoric disorder. It helps with these conditions by restoring a natural balance of serotonin in the user’s brain. Other benefits of Paxil can include improved mood, better sleep, normalized appetite, increased energy level, limited panic attacks, and decreased irritability.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • PTSD
  • Hot flashes
  • General mood disorders

Paxil Usage and Statistics

According to information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, and Lexapro are now the third most widely prescribed group of drugs in the United States. More patients are taking these medications, even for minor complaints of depression, without fully understanding the dangers and risks. It is estimated that more than 10 percent of Americans are now taking antidepressants in any given year. This is a staggering increase from 20 years ago. Experts suggest one reason for the increase is that the stigma for depression has decreased, and patients may now be more willing to get help. Direct marketing to patients may also be a factor.

How Paxil Works

Millions of people suffer from depression and because depression can lower the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine which your body naturally produces in the spinal cord and brain, certain individuals may need professional medical intervention to help their brain’s ability to communicate effectively with other parts of the body. Paxil, as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, works to stop certain receptors in the user’s brain from reabsorbing serotonin. Through this lack of reabsorption, the user’s mood equalizes and feelings of depression, negativity, and irritability can be eliminated.

Side Effects of Paxil

  • Doctors are concerned about the side-effects of taking Paxil, and the manufacturers of Paxil have been instructed to include certain side-effects on their packaging. Paxil should not be taken in conjunction with other medications including pimozide (Orap), thioridazine (Mellaril), Marplan, phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl, Emsam), or tranylcypromine (Parnate). Paxil should also not be taken if a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding. Some of the common side-effects can include:
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nasal irritation
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Weight changes
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Difficulty having an orgasm

Paxil Medical Studies

Millions of Americans suffer from depression. In fact, some medical experts estimate the number of people could be as high as one in ten. Most sufferers are between the ages of forty-five and sixty-four and tend to be women. According to the FDA, paroxetine, marketed as Paxil, is a successful treatment for “major depressive disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (PD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” The drug is linked to the “potentiation of serotonergic activity in the central nervous system resulting from inhibition of neuronal reuptake of serotonin (5-hydroxy-tryptamine, 5-HT).” Over the years there has been increased concern about the negative side-effects of Paxil, especially in pregnant women and younger users. In 2005, the FDA issued their first warning for pregnant women suggesting that Paxil may have dangerous side-effects and could cause an increased risk for birth defects for the unborn in the first trimester of pregnancy. The first verdict against GSK was issued in 2009 with a $2.5 million dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiff.

Paxil Black Box Warnings

  • The Black Box warning for Paxil, as well as other antidepressant medications, is the increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults in the short-term. All young users should be monitored closely if they are taking antidepressant therapy medications. Users who experience any of the following side-effects from taking Paxil should contact their doctor immediately.
  • Hostility
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased panic attacks
  • Bone pain
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Coughing up blood
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased fever
  • Increased heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Stiffness
  • Confusion
  • Tremors
  • Passing out
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe skin rashes
  • Burning eyes
  • Skin pain
  • Blistering or peeling.

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