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Paxil May Not Be Linked to Decrease in Suicide Rates

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New York, NYMany patients say the benefits of Paxil outweigh the risk of side effects, which include congenital heart defects and other birth defects. However, new research indicates that Paxil and other antidepressants may not have a significant effect on treating depression, and they might not be linked to a decrease in suicide rates. Pregnant women must determine on a case-by-case basis whether the risk of Paxil side effects is greater than the benefits.

The most recent study, conducted by researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, found no evidence that an increase in the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of drugs that includes Paxil, is linked to a decrease in suicide rates.

According to the 9/30/10 issue of ScienceDaily, researchers also did not find that reduced sales of tricyclics and older antidepressants was linked to a decrease in suicide rates. The article notes that the suicide rate in many Western countries has declined since the late 1980s, while SSRI antidepressants started becoming available in the early 1990s.

GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, reportedly settled approximately 800 lawsuits for more than $1 billion earlier this year. Those lawsuits alleged that Paxil caused birth defects in babies who were exposed to the antidepressant prior to birth. Meanwhile, in a separate lawsuit, Jennifer Berg reached a settlement with GlaxoSmithKline over allegations that her infant's heart disorder and death at only 58 days old was caused by prenatal exposure to Paxil.

Berg's son, Nathan, reportedly died of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN). The terms of the settlement have not been made public.

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