Celexa is a prescription antidepressant medication manufactured by Forest Laboratories which falls into the category of SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. These drugs function by increasing or restoring the level of serotonin in the brain, thereby relieving depression and improving certain mood disorders. The active ingredient in Celexa is citalopram, and the drug was approved by the FDA in 1998 for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Although the drug is only approved for this indication, some healthcare providers may prescribe the drug for off-label purposes, which commonly include obsessive-compulsive disorder, certain eating disorders, anxiety, and panic disorder. Celexa is currently manufactured by pharmaceutical company, Forest Laboratories, and has become widely prescribed by physicians across the country.
Regardless of the drug’s popularity, Celexa and other SSRI antidepressants have become the subject of significant scrutiny in recent years. According to a number of credible studies, women who take SSRIs like Celexa while pregnant may have a significantly increased risk of giving birth to infants with one or more major birth defects. Among these potential Celexa birth defects is a congenital malformation called a limb defect, which can affect a child in any number of ways.
Limb defects are characterized by the failure of an upper or lower limb, or a portion of the limb, to form completely in utero. There are a number of different kinds of limb defects, each named for the type of improper development present. Overgrowth, for example, describes a defect in which the limb is much larger than a normal limb, while undergrowth occurs when a limb is much smaller than normal. Other types of limb defects include complete absence of a limb, duplication (extra fingers or toes), failure to separate (webbed fingers or toes), and constriction band syndrome (a constricting band of tissue formed around a limb, limiting tissue growth and blood flow.
One of the most common limb defects is club foot, a malformation in which one or both feet are smaller than normal and rotated inward at the ankles with the toes pointing down. Without treatment, the child may begin to walk on the outside of the foot and toes, resulting in large sores or callouses, an awkward gait, and restricted calf muscle growth. Although club foot may be a painless condition at birth, the condition can worsen over time and become a debilitating and unsightly condition in adulthood.
Although proper care for a limb defect depends largely upon the type and severity of the malformation, the main goal of treatment is universal: to restore the appearance and function of the affected limb. Common treatment methods for limb defects include the use of splints, braces, prosthetics, or rehabilitation therapy. With treatment, most affected children can make a full recovery, although treatment for some may include adaptation if the defect cannot be reversed.
In 2006, the FDA issued a public health advisory warning healthcare providers and patients alike about the potential connection between SSRI antidepressants like Celexa and the development of PPHN among infants. This decision was largely influenced by a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier that same year. Researchers involved in this study indicated that infants whose mothers took an SSRI like Celexa after the twentieth week of pregnancy were six times more likely to be born with PPHN, a life-threatening heart and lung condition in which the baby’s circulation bypasses the lungs after birth. Since then, the FDA has also required all sponsors of SSRIs to update their drug warning labels to include potential pregnancy precautions, including PPHN.
Two additional SSRI birth defect studies were released in recent years; one of which was published in the American Journal of Nursing and found a nearly two-times increased risk of septal heart defects among infants exposed to SSRIs like Celexa in utero. Another study published in Pediatrics determined that infants whose mothers took an SSRI while pregnant were more likely to develop serious complications like abnormal heart rhythms, inhibited neurological development, unusual sleeping patterns, and problems with alertness.
The FDA has classified Celexa as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it has the potential to cause serious harm to a fetus when taken during pregnancy. If you are currently taking Celexa and you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, consult your physician as soon as possible. You should never stop taking a prescription medication without medical consent, as this may cause further damage. However, with your doctor’s aid, you may be able to find a safer way to treat your medical condition.
Birth defects like limb defects can cause serious issues for an affected child, especially those which limit the child’s ability to perform simple, everyday tasks. For example, children born with a hand defect may be unable to grasp objects or play with certain toys, difficulties which may have a negative impact on the child’s development. Limb defects also often require extensive medical care, typically in the form of surgery, which can lead to costly medical expenses. If you or a loved one has suffered from a limb defect which you believe to be associated with the use of Celexa, contact a Celexa attorney as soon as possible. You may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries and medical expenses, which you can collect by filing a Celexa lawsuit against Forest Laboratories.
Consumers depend on pharmaceutical companies like Forest Laboratories to develop and market safe and effective medications. They also expect these companies to alert the public of any dangers potentially associated with their medications. Unfortunately, some drug manufacturing companies intentionally withhold dangerous drug information in order to avoid negative consequences, such as a drug recall. This misleading practices exposes millions of consumers to serious injuries, illnesses, or even death, simply by taking their prescription medications. The only way to protect your rights and collect the compensation you deserve is to hire an experienced Celexa lawyer to represent your case.