Posted by Antonia
on Aug 3, 2014 in Medical Danger
| 2 comments
Of the 2.4 billion prescriptions written by doctors every year, the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS)states that about 118 million are for antidepressant drugs, making these the third most prescribed type of medication in the US. NCHS records also show that between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008, use of antidepressants increased by almost 400 percent.
Psychiatrists, of course, agree that antidepressants can be prescribed to people with severe illnesses or severe cases of depression, but definitely not to those suffering only from mild attacks. And, along this line, one major concern is that many of the doctors who have prescribed antidepressants are not psychiatrists. The World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse expresses concern over the fact that a lot of Americans, who should not be using the drug, are getting the prescriptions anyway, but not as a solution to stress, anxiety or sadness.
It appears that many doctors have been prescribing antidepressants to people for off-label use, that is, use not approved for by the US Food and Drug Administration. These include off-label treatment of insomnia, pain, headache and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is due to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS); some doctors even recommend antidepressants to help people quit smoking.
One specific antidepressant that has been written on about 30 million prescriptions was Zoloft (sertraline chloride), which was introduced by Pfizer in 1990. Zoloft was originally manufactured for those in the United Kingdom, where it was given the brand name Lustral. Seen as more effective and with fewer side effects, Pfizer developed it and introduced it in the US market, where it eventually dislodged Prozac at the top of the antidepressants chart.
Zoloft comes from SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) family of antidepressant drugs. SSRIs, which control the level of serotonin in the brain and which affect an individual’s learning, sleeping and mood patterns, have been prescribed to patients to control their mental illnesses, such as depression. Specifically, the drug has been used as a treatment for major depressive disorders (MDD), as well as for panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Side-effects, however, both minor and severe, began to be linked to Zoloft over the past years. And while there are concerns of prescribing the drug to people with liver or kidney ailments, who also suffer from mania, suicidal thoughts or seizures, the greatest concern is giving the drug to pregnant women or those expecting (or planning) to becoming pregnant soon.
Some of the milder side-effects of Zoloft include sleepiness or insomnia, headache, suicidal thoughts, restlessness, diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, sexual dysfunction and dry mouth. The severe ones, though, can include: serious birth defects; withdrawal symptoms in babies following birth; persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), which can be fatal; the possibility of the baby being born with a heart defect; anencephaly, a fatal condition wherein a large portion of the skull and brain fail to develop; facial malformations, like cleft palate or cleft lip; and Omphalocele a condition wherein abdominal organs, like the liver and the intestines, develop outside of the abdomen.
As of June 2014, at least 250 Zoloft birth defect lawsuits have been filed in a federal court in Philadelphia alone. Zoloft lawyers still anticipate a possible surge in the number of birth defects involving Zoloft, which openly advertised the product for use by pregnant women, despite already being linked to serious birth defects.
Birth defects and other forms of medical errors are almost always due to the grave negligence of certain individuals, like manufacturers, doctors, healthcare personnel, and others. Acts of negligence can result to wrong prescription, misdiagnosis, surgical errors, injecting wrong dose of anesthesia, birth defects and to so many more.
Another serious birth defect that can be due to negligence is cerebral palsy, the loss of motor function in, or impairment in the muscle coordination of, children due to abnormality in the development of the brain. This injury, which greatly affects a child’s ability to walk, play, talk, eat, etc., can be sustained by a child while inside the womb, during birth or soon after birth.
Because of medical mistakes thousands of children end up with birth defects (including cerebral palsy) every year. Doctors’ failure to provide proper care, especially to pregnant women and those planning on becoming pregnant soon, can very well be the cause of a Zoloft prescription or inability to detect a problem in a pregnant woman’s or an unborn child’s health condition.
Besides Zoloft lawyers, there are cerebral palsy lawyers who can represent both mother and child in a medical malpractice lawsuit that will attempt to show that acts of negligence are the causes of birth defects. Victims of birth defects due to negligence are protected and allowed by the law to receive proper compensation from the liable party.