Were You Warned About the Risk to Your Baby?
The FDA has linked Effexor to persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). Effexor is one of a class of antidepressants described as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Effexor, whose generic name is Venlafaxine, is a type of antidepressant known as a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). The U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) has linked SSRIs to an increase in serious birth defects. The FDA issued a health advisory citing a 2006 New England Journal of Medicine study that reported women receiving SSRIs after the 20th week of their pregnancy gave birth to babies that were 6 times as likely to have PPHN.
A recent study by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found that, of a study population of 50,000 women prescribed an SSRI antidepressant, less than half received warnings about the dangers of potential birth defects if they continued to take the SSRI during pregnancy. If your baby has PPHN, or another similar birth defect, and you were prescribed an antidepressant during your pregnancy, contact an experienced medical attorney immediately.
Other SSRIs in this class of drugs include the following:
- Celexa (Citalopram)
- Lexapro (Escitalopram)
- Paxil (Paroxetine)
- Prozac (Fluoxetine)
- Symbyax (Olanzapine / Fluoxetine)
- Zoloft (Sertraline)
Serious Birth Defects: PPHN
PPHN is a lung condition that causes high pressure in the baby’s lungs and prevents adequate amounts of oxygen from entering the bloodstream. In PPHN, the arteries of the lungs are severely restricted, causing an increase in the blood pressure of the pulmonary artery. Consequently, there is an interruption in the flow of blood and reduction in the level of oxygen. This condition is serious and requires intensive medical care.
Newborn infants who suffer PPHN have difficulty processing oxygen after birth. There is a low supply of blood to the heart, which can affect the organs. Newborn babies who suffer from PPHN may have a fast heartbeat, accelerated breathing rate, and respiratory problems. The skin may also have a blue tinge and the infant can suffer heart failure, kidney and organ damage, and even death.
A newborn that survives may experience:
- Breathing problems
- Other long term health issues
Serotonin Toxicity & SNRI Discontinuation Syndrome
Effexor, or venlafaxine, has been associated with serious side effects such as serotonin syndrome and SSRI discontinuation syndrome. Serotonin syndrome, also known as serotonin toxicity, occurs due to over dosage, drug interaction, or during therapeutic usage. Serotonin toxicity when using Effexor is poisoning by too much serotonin. Therapeutic prescription can lead to the toxicity effect in some people if they have a predisposition to this syndrome. Effexor toxicity can also be brought on by mixing with other drugs such as SSRIs or by ingesting too much. Serotonin toxicity can be fatal with symptoms ranging from tremors in mild cases to hyperthermia in life-threatening cases. This side effect is completely predictable and preventable.
The SSRI discontinuation syndrome is a side effect that occurs when stopping usage of or lowering the dosage. It is not a fatal side effect, but can be long lasting in some people and intolerable. SSRI discontinuation side effects can keep a person from being able to discontinue use of Effexor. The side effects of discontinuing usage includes dizziness, insomnia, sweating, tingling sensations, tremor, confusion, nausea, and vertigo. These side effects may be unbearable for people trying to stop taking the drug. These side effects are withdrawal symptoms and people may be unable to stop their use of Effexor as a result of the severity of the withdrawal.
Another side effect is an increase in suicidal thoughts and actions by people under the age of 24. It has been determined that Effexor and other anti-depressants increase the attempts at suicide and thoughts of suicide by adolescents and young adults. These individuals should be watched closely for side effects associated with the drug—particularly if there is an increase in their thoughts of suicide, or they attempt suicide. Side effects can vary greatly among users. Your doctor should be well informed of potentially serious or fatal side effects.
Talk to Our Medical Injury Attorneys Today About Your Case
Recalled drugs are serious and sometimes life-threatening. As such, these are matters that deserve the attention of more than just the medical physicians who treat victims suffering from adverse side effects. Additionally, patients will benefit from the legal support and advice of a Houston personal injury lawyer who can represent them well.
At Arnold & Itkin LLP, we strive for nothing less than justice. We firmly believe drug manufacturers, distributors, and prescribers have a responsibility for ensuring their products are safe. Failure to do so could result in serious illness for unsuspecting, undeserving patients. We have successfully won billions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including a $76.6 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson for pharmaceutical injuries suffered by our client as a child.Call Our Firm Today