Celexa FDA Alerts

Information for Healthcare Professionals: Citalopram (marketed as Celexa)

FDA ALERT [7/2006]: Increased Risk of Neonatal Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension

A recently published case-control study has shown that infants born to mothers who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) after the 20th week of pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) than infants born to mothers who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy (see SSRI drug names at the bottom of this sheet). The background risk of a woman giving birth to an infant affected by PPHN in the general population is estimated to be about 1 to 2 infants per 1000 live births. Neonatal PPHN is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. The FDA is updating the prescribing information for all SSRIs with this new information. The FDA is also accruing data from additional sources pertaining to the potential association between SSRIs and neonatal PPHN. The FDA will provide additional information when it becomes available. In the interim, the FDA recommends that physicians carefully consider and discuss with patients the potential risks and benefits of SSRI treatment throughout pregnancy, including late pregnancy.
Data Summary

A retrospective case-control study published on February 9, 2006, in the New England Journal of Medicine assessed the risk for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) following exposure to SSRIs during pregnancy. 377 women whose infants were born with PPHN and 836 women whose infants were healthy were enrolled in the study in four United States metropolitan areas between 1998 and 2003. The study showed that infants born to mothers who took SSRIs after the completion of the 20th week of gestation were 6 times more likely to have PPHN than infants who were not exposed to antidepressants during pregnancy. 14 infants with PPHN and 6 healthy control infants had been exposed to an SSRI after the 20th week of gestation. There were too few cases of PPHN with each individual SSRI to compare risks for PPHN with individual SSRIs. The study did not find an association between exposure to SSRIs during the first 20 weeks of gestation and PPHN.

Exposure to non-SSRI antidepressants did not appear to be associated with an increased risk of PPHN, although the number of infants with exposure to non-SSRI antidepressants was too small to permit a reliable risk estimate or comparison with the risk observed for SSRIs.

In weighing the risks and benefits of treatment with SSRIs and other antidepressants during pregnancy for individual patients, physicians should also note the recent publication of a prospective longitudinal study of 201 pregnant women with a history of major depression in the February 1, 2006, issue of JAMA. In this study, women who discontinued antidepressant medication during pregnancy had a higher risk of relapse of major depression during pregnancy (68%) than women who maintained antidepressant medication throughout pregnancy (26%).
SSRI Drug Names

  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Symbyax (olanzepine/fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

Public Health Advisory: Treatment Challenges of Depression in Pregnancy and the Possibility of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension in Newborns

7/19/2006
Decisions about how to treat depression in pregnant women are increasingly complex. Patients and physicians must carefully consider and discuss together the potential benefits and risks of treatment with antidepressants during pregnancy. Two new studies provide important information to be considered in making such decisions. The studies included women who had been treated with antidepressant drugs that act as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or, in a few cases, other antidepressants. SSRI medications are the most commonly used drugs to treat depression in the U.S.

The first study illustrates the potential risk of relapsed depression after stopping antidepressant medication during pregnancy. The authors followed pregnant women who in the past had major depression. During their pregnancy, some of these women were not feeling depressed and stopped taking their antidepressant medicines. Others stayed on their antidepressant medicines while pregnant. The women who stopped their medicine were five times more likely to have a relapse of depression during their pregnancy than were the women who continued to take their antidepressant medicine while pregnant. This study, by Lee Cohen and other authors, was published February 1, 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

A second study suggests there may be additional, though rare, risks of SSRI medications during pregnancy. This study focused on newborn babies with persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN), which is a serious and life-threatening lung condition that occurs soon after birth of the newborn. Babies with PPHN have high pressure in their lung blood vessels and are not able to get enough oxygen into their bloodstream. About 1 to 2 babies per 1000 babies born in the U.S. develop PPHN shortly after birth, and often they need intensive medical care. In this study PPHN was six times more common in babies whose mothers took an SSRI antidepressant after the 20th week of the pregnancy compared to babies whose mothers did not take an antidepressant. The study was too small to compare the risk in one drug compared to another, and this risk has not so far been investigated by other researchers. The study, by Christina Chambers and others, was published on February 9, 2006 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The finding of PPHN in babies of mothers who used a SSRI antidepressant in the second half of pregnancy adds to concerns coming from previous reports that infants of mothers taking SSRIs late in pregnancy may experience difficulties such as irritability, difficulty feeding and in very rare cases, difficulty breathing. In addition, the labeling for paroxetine (Paxil) was recently changed to add information about findings in an epidemiology study suggesting that exposure to the drug in the first trimester of pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk of cardiac birth defects (see FDA Public Health Advisory for Paxil dated December 8, 2005).

The uncommon potential risk to the newborn of PPHN has not been confirmed by additional studies. Uncertainty about these rare events and their potential impact on the newborn, along with the potential risk to the mother of recurring depression if she stops her antidepressant medicines during pregnancy, makes decisions about the treatment of depression in pregnant women especially challenging for health care professionals and patients.

Women who are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant should not stop any antidepressant without first consulting their physician. The decision to continue medication or not should be made only after there has been careful consideration of the potential benefits and risks of the medication for each individual pregnant patient. If the decision is made to stop treatment with SSRIs before or during pregnancy, this should be done with a healthcare professional, according to the prescribing information for the drug, and patients should be observed closely in case their depression comes back.

The FDA is seeking additional information about the possible risk of PPHN in newborn babies of mothers who took SSRI antidepressants in pregnancy. In the meantime, the FDA has asked the sponsors of all SSRIs to change prescribing information to describe the potential risk for PPHN. Prescribing information will be updated with information from additional studies when this information becomes available.

 SSRIs and a Combination Drug Containing an SSRI

  • Celexa (citalopram) 
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Symbyax (olanzapine/Citalopram)
  • Zoloft (fluoxetine)

 





Verdicts & Settlements

Scott has been involved in numerous and diverse settlements and verdicts throughout his 18 year legal career.  He prides himself on taking care of the injured people he represents.  Scott has represented individuals from almost every state in the country and can point to settlements involving millions of dollars. Whether it be a faulty medical device, a flawed manufacturing process, a failed prescription drug or some other issue that has caused personal injury, Scott has the experience, determination and the integrity to represent a client’s interests aggressively and see that justice is served. The following examples are but a few of recent notable accomplishments:

  • Hundreds of Scott’s clients from numerous states received monetary awards in the Silicone breast implant litigation. These cases involved defective leaking or ruptured silicone implants which caused significant injury, illness and/or damage to women who relied on the manufactures of the implants.  Scott worked with the women all the way through to verdict or settlement and was responsible for ultimately settling client cases for millions of dollars.

  • Scott represented clients in the Rezulin litigation which involved a drug used by diabetics. The FDA ultimately removed the drug from the market due to liver and cardiac adverse events. Scott was involved in hundreds of hours of document review and depositions in the U.S. and Europe.  He deposed corporate witnesses who designed, manufactured, marketed and sold the drug and his clients received exceptional settlements.

  • Scott and his partner Ed Blizzard were involved in representing hundreds of individuals who suffered as a result of defective Sulzer hip and knee implant replacement joints.  Scott and Ed worked at both the state and federal level and were instrumental in developing documents and deposing corporate witnesses so that ultimately a global settlement of all claims was announced.  Scott and Ed were able to secure millions in settlement for their clients.

  • Scott represented many clients who encountered problems as a result of the diet drugs Pondimin and Redux.  He was involved with discovery committees, reviewed thousands of documents and deposed many corporate witnesses.  He tried many of these cases to verdict receiving large settlements for his clients. In December 2000, Scott tried a case in Philadelphia for two ladies from Utah who developed heart valve damage after taking the diet drug combination known as Fen-Phen. After a two week trial the jury awarded each of his clients $100 million dollars. This $200 million dollar verdict stands today as the largest Fen-Phen valvular heart disease verdict in the country. Because of this verdict, Scott was inducted into the Million Dollar and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

  • Scott’s clients in the Ephedra litigation were compensated well for the damages they suffered.  These cases involved  products such as Herbalife, Dexatrim, Stacker and Hydroxicut that were associated with heart attacks and strokes. He was heavily involved in developing justification documents and taking corporate depositions that ultimately led to large dollar settlements for his clients.  

Most recently, Scott began working on Paxil birth defect cases. Paxil is an antidepressant still used by millions of Americans daily.  In recent years, however, it has been associated with significant heart defects when ingested by women during the first trimester of a pregnancy.  Scott has been actively prosecuting these cases against GSK, maker of the drug. One of his cases was the first to be set for trial.  The case was resolved in favor of Scott’s client.

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Blizzard, McCarthy & Nabers, LLP represents clients in mass tort and primary pulmonary hypertension lawsuits nationwide, including Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

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