Paxil, or paroxetine, is a serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat psychiatric conditions including:
- Major depression
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
For most adults who are not pregnant, the side effects of Paxil are unpleasant but not dangerous. Whether or not the uncomfortable side effects are worth it is a personal choice. For some adult patients, Paxil is the SSRI that changes life for the better. For others, it is simply not the right treatment.
Paxil is dangerous and sometimes fatal when taken by children, adolescents and pregnant women. Paxil can cause addiction and dependence due to the withdrawal symptoms that patients experience when trying to stop taking Paxil. Paxil can also worsen depression in patients under 18, and taking Paxil during pregnancy raises the risk of birth defects.
Many patients who stop taking Paxil experience painful withdrawal symptoms. Paxil withdrawal symptoms can be similar to Paxil side effects, with an additional risk of emotional disturbances such as nightmares, anxiety, and a feeling of electricity in the body. Paxil withdrawal symptoms can range from mildly uncomfortable to severe.
Paxil is one of the hardest SSRIs to quit. All Paxil labels are now required to state the habit-forming potential of Paxil so that patients can accurately understand the risks of taking Paxil.
Suicide in Children Under 18
In clinical trials, Paxil did not provide any benefit to teens or children. In fact, Paxil can increase the frequency of suicidal thoughts in young patients. This is the exact opposite of what a treatment for depression should accomplish. Children and adolescents dealing with psychiatric conditions should not take Paxil: it is unlikely to help and may make the patient’s condition worse.
Paxil is not recommended for pregnant women because it can cause severe birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Paxil taken during pregnancy can cause miscarriages and cardiovascular malformations, or heart defects.
Ventricular septal defects (VSDs) and atrial septal defects (ASDs) are particularly common results of taking Paxil during pregnancy. In some cases, the infant’s heart defects can heal without help. However, many babies born with heart defects require medication, surgery, and lifelong care from a specialist.
According to the FDA, using Paxil during pregnancy causes twice as many major birth defects than using other antidepressants. The FDA classifies Paxil as a Grade D pregnancy risk because it has been shown to cause risk to a human fetus.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the maker of Paxil, pushed Paxil aggressively and unethically from the drug’s entry onto the market in 1992. In July 2012 GSK plead guilty to federal criminal charges of bribing doctors with gifts and money, hiding safety information from the FDA and the public, and running faulty studies on Paxil.
GSK made many false claims about the safety and effectiveness of Paxil.
Early commercials for Paxil claimed that Paxil was non-habit-forming. Paxil actually has severe withdrawal symptoms: it is unusually hard to quit Paxil.
GSK used dishonest practices to promote the use of Paxil in children under 18. Paxil was proven ineffective in children and the FDA never approved it for use in children or adolescents.
Failure to Warn
GSK also failed to warn pregnant mothers about the risk of taking Paxil during pregnancy. GSK had data showing that Paxil caused birth defects long before patients and doctors knew the risks.
Paxil causes more birth defects than other antidepressants. Women who took Paxil during pregnancy could have taken a different antidepressant if GSK had obeyed the law and warned them of the dangers Paxil could cause to their unborn children.
If your child was born with birth defects and you took Paxil during pregnancy, you should not have to bear the medical costs alone. Contact our personal injury lawyers for a Free consultation.
In July 2012, GSK was ordered to pay a $3 billion fine to the US government for its dishonest behavior in the promotion and marketing of Paxil and other drugs. This is the biggest fine the US government has ever imposed on a pharmaceutical company.
$3 billion is still only a fraction of the profits GSK made on the drugs in the suit.
GSK has also been sued successfully by many patients who were harmed by GSK’s dishonesty. This includes:
- Pregnant mothers who gave birth to children with birth defects
- Adults who became addicted to Paxil
- Parents of children who became suicidal while on Paxil
Despite the lawsuits and the criminal charges, GSK made a huge profit on Paxil. GSK cashed in by deliberately lying to consumers who just wanted to live a full life without major depression. Thousands of women and children have been harmed by GSK’s lies, omissions, and negligence. Courts have demonstrated that GSK pushed Paxil to people who should have never been on the drug. If you or your family was harmed by Paxil, you have legal rights.