Despite evidence suggesting that Paxil could cause birth defects, Glaxo deliberately chose not to conduct studies that would have uncovered the true dangers of the…
For the past three years, the Chantix smoking cessation pill has caused a stir after being associated with suicidal behavior and vivid dreams. Consequently, the government banned the Pfizer drug for pilots and licenses wouldn’t be issued to truck drivers taking the med. The FDA subsequently imposed a risk management program and Pfizer added warnings.
The SSRI antidepressant makers are desperate to find new customers, so they recently have been focusing on capturing groups for which the drugs were usually considered off limits. The latest marketing coup managed to open up sales to roughly 614,000 American pilots. Under a new policy announced on April 5, 2010, pilots diagnosed with depression can seek permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to take one of four SSRIs, including Eli Lilly’s Prozac, Pfizer’s Zoloft, and Forest Laboratories’ Celexa and Lexapro.
Ken Kramer, a researcher with the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Florida, says the numbers underestimate the extent of the problem, because medical examiners do not track deaths attributed to antipsychotic drugs or to antidepressants, both of which carry black-box or black-label warnings. The warnings on antidepressants, required by the Food and Drug Administration, state that the drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults up to age 24. (Antidepressants include Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Lexapro and Celexa.)
There have been numerous claims that a medication caused a suicide, but few lead to sweeping changes. In Canada, however, the suicide of 18-year-old Sarah Carlin, who had taken the Paxil antidepressant, is a clear exception. Following a coroner’s inquest, Canada’s provincial and federal governments were told to ensure patients are better informed about drug risks, tighten regulations on drugmakers and establish an independent agency to regulate medications.