How concerned should you be about the side effects of the prescription drugs you take? Answer: You should be extremely concerned!
Aside from allergic reactions that can be fatal or life-altering, we live in an age in which the side effects of an antidepressant includes suicidal ideation. The recent death of comedian Robin Williams, for example, is said to be linked to an antidepressant that has a history of increased risk for suicide in rare cases. Along with that, the pharmaceutical industry is currently plagued with at least two different brand name antidepressants that are linked to serious birth defects if taken by a woman who is pregnant.
The days of the so-called “thalidomide babies” is largely a thing of the past, but legal teams to this day line up in court to bring justice to those harmed by drugs that are linked to serious problems, such as miscarriages, birth defects and fatalities.
And cases can drag on interminably, given the billions of dollars pharmaceutical companies have available to fight legal claims in court. The Zofran lawsuit is one example of this ongoing legal battle. Drug company GlaxoSmithKline agreed to a $3 billion settlement in 2012 to have complaints about the antiemetic dropped, but doctors continue to prescribe the risky drug to pregnant women, prolonging the long-standing legal dispute.
And while some drugs, like thalidomide, become synonymous with the horrors of unexpected birth defects, others, such as aspirin, gain worldwide acceptance, even though aspirin, too, is linked to birth defects when taken late in a pregnancy. That's because aspirin is a blood thinner that can cause fetal bleeding.
Here are just a few examples of specific drugs and some of their concerns:
There are dozens of brand names for these popular drugs, which revolutionized treatment for depression, which also come with potentially dangerous side effects. The drugs which also go by other names, are Effexor, Celexa, Cipramil, Cipram, Dalsan, Recital, Prozac, Seronil, Paxil, Zoloft and Asentra.
Depression affects about 6 percent of the adult population, which adds up to about 40 million people in the United States. As such, there is a reason why Elizabeth Wurtzel titled her 1994 autobiography Prozac Nation.
The side effects include increased anxiety, vivid dreaming, and suicidal ideation. In addition, some have been linked to birth defects like deformities of the skull, heart, lungs and other internal organs.
Byetta & Bydureon
These are injectable drugs that were designed to help people with adult onset (Type 2) diabetes control their blood sugar.
The difference between the two, according to DrugWatch, is that Byetta was designed to be injected twice a day, while Bydureon was designed to be administered once a week. Bydureon is the longer-lasting version of Byetta, which is a brand name for exenatide.
They are both given in order to help the body react to high blood sugar levels. But before it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, it was twice rejected because it also was linked to heart rhythm abnormalities.
This is a powerful anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia. But buyer beware! It has also been used “off-label,” as a treatment for hyperactivity or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). On occasion, it is used as a treatment for bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.
While schizophrenia is a very tragic illness, some regret taking Resperdal to combat it, as it is linked to palsy-like disorders, such as tardive diskynesia, which sometimes mimic Parkinson's disease.
Depakote is an anti-seizure drug that was first developed to treat epilepsy. But not only have doctors prescribed it for migraine headaches, but the company that makes it Abbott Laboratories has had to face charges of trying to market it for uses that were not approved, such as for bipolar disorder.
Depakote is also linked to birth defects involving the heart and facial deformities. It is also linked to liver damage and problems with the pancreas.