Some anti-depressant drugs such as the class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be very controversial because they can become addictive and also have been linked to causing birth defects.
So many SSRI lawsuits have been filed, for instance, that federal court officials have been forced to consolidate them into a multi-district litigation in which hundreds of claims with similar claims of dangerous SSRI side effects are grouped together.
A single judge is now overseeing these cases and is supervising pre-trial evidence gathering and other legal actions before deciding whether the cases will be designated as a huge class action case.
The central allegations are that these drugs, which include such well-known brands as Zoloft, Prozac, Lexapro and Paxil, when taken by women while pregnant can cause birth defects in children born to these mothers.
However, Veterans Administration officials are now reporting that the use of class of these anti-depressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in treating combat post-traumatic stress disorder in middle-aged veterans shows promising results in reducing cardiovascular mortality. Read more on SSRI Drugs
Treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor also appeared to protect against development of metabolic syndrome in this patient population, according to a presentation to the annual scientific sessions of the American Heart Association.
The findings were presented by Dr. Naser Ahmadi of the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System and posted on the Clinical Endocrinology News Digital Network.
Treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor also appeared to protect against development of metabolic syndrome in this patient population, Ahmadi told the sessions, according to the web posting.
“Dr. Ahmadi reported on 1,142 veterans with combat-induced PTSD, 433 of whom had received SSRI therapy for the disorder. Fifty-three percent of subjects met criteria for metabolic syndrome, according to the posting.
“During a median 5 years of follow-up through the Veterans Affairs system’s electronic medical record system, the cardiovascular mortality was 21% in patients with PTSD and metabolic syndrome, compared with 14% in those without metabolic syndrome. Thus, comorbid metabolic syndrome in patients with combat PTSD was associated with a 68% increase in the risk of cardiovascular mortality.”
Anti-depressants are among the most widely prescribed medications. Recently released national health statistics show that over 10 percent of Americans are being prescribed medications to treat their illness and a large number of military veterans suffer from depression.
As the Wall Street Journal recently reported:
“Psychiatric medications are among the most widely prescribed and biggest-selling class of drugs in the U.S. In 2010, Americans spent $16.1 billion on antipsychotics to treat depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, $11.6 billion on antidepressants and $7.2 billion on treatment for ADHD, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription drug sales. Whether psychiatric drugs are used appropriately or not has been a longstanding concern among medical professionals and policy makers in the U.S. Evidence continues to grow about possible serious side effects, particularly among children and the elderly.”
Women who take SSRIs and have filed SSRI birth defects lawsuits have reported the following birth defects: autism, heart defects, craniosynostosis, omphalocele, club foot, anal atresia or limb reduction and a life-threatening condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.