Major depressive disorder
Major depressive disorder is an illness that can be debilitating for those who suffer often chronic or recurrent attacks of the disease over the course of years. It is characterized by anxiety, appetite changes, loss of interest in normal activities, lack of concentration, sleep disturbances, fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthless or guilt and recurrent suicidal thoughts.
When the antidepressant Lexapro, with the active ingredient escitalopram, was released, it was hailed as a new weapon in the arsenal against depression. Lexapro was soon used by physicians to treat other mood disorders that included anxiety disorders like social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Depression may be the result, at least in part, of decreased levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to your sense of well-being. Lexapro works in the brain as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, by blocking the reuptake of serotonin from the gap between nerve cells, where serotonin is a chemical messenger between brain cells, known as neurons.
Lexapro discontinued by manufacturer Forest Laboratories
Lexapro was manufactured by Forest Laboratories. Although the drug has been discontinued by the manufacturer, drug sales for the year 2011 topped $355 million. However as early as 2009, the United States Department of Justice accused Forest Laboratories of marketing Lexapro for uses that had not been approved by the FDA. The DOJ also accused Forest Laboratories of failing to disclose negative results found by researchers when the drug was in clinical trials. Finally, the company was accused of paying kickbacks to doctors who prescribed the drug. In 2010, a subsidiary of the company paid more than $313 million to settle these charges, and charges related to two other drugs manufactured by the company, Levothyroxin and Celexa.
Lexapro is associated birth defects
The company is again in legal jeopardy over the drug, this time because of birth defect lawsuits. Lexapro was marketed as safe for pregnant women and women of childbearing age, but some children were born with drug-related birth defects. Some of these complications are thought to include defects of the neural tube, resulting in spina bifida or other abnormalities. Cleft lip or palate may occur as a result of Lexapro use during pregnancy. Heart defects and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn are also possibly linked to Lexapro.
The FDA requires drug manufacturers to test their drugs in several stages, including animal and human testing. Sometimes, drug manufacturers bury negative findings and keep the dangers of a drug from the public. Some manufacturers may carry out their clinical trials outside of US jurisdiction. The manufacturers of Lexapro allegedly knew of the increased risks of birth defects if taken by pregnant women or women of childbearing age.
If you or someone you know has given birth to a child with defects after taking Lexapro, Lexapro may have been a contributing factor. Families of children with birth defects face a lifetime of medical expenses and need for specialized care. If you are a woman of childbearing age, or took Lexapro while pregnant, Lexapro could be a factor in your child’s birth defect and you may be entitled to compensation for your expenses and damages. When you contact an experienced products liability attorney or medical malpractice attorney, you can determine if you are entitled to compensation for your losses.