The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new antidepressant, called Viibryd (known generically as vilazodone). According to the Los Angeles Times (01/24/11), the drug is the first combination of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor and 5HT1A receptor partial agonist. The drug works by not only increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain—the SSRI portion of the drug—it also affects alleles in the 5 HT transporter gene.
The drug is reported to have fewer side effects from other SSRIs because there were no differences in sexual side effects when people who took Viibryd were compared with those who took a placebo. Sexual side effects are reportedly a common issue with current SSRIs.
Whether or not Viibryd, made by Clinical Data, carries the same risk of SSRI birth defects as older SSRIs are reported to have remains to be seen. Paxil, another SSRI, has an FDA pregnancy rating of "Category D," meaning that studies on humans have shown evidence of risk to the fetus, but the benefits of the drug may still outweigh the risks.
Other SSRIs are considered "Category C," meaning that there could be a risk to the fetus but there may not be adequate studies completed and the benefits may still outweigh the risks.
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Previously, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that women who took an SSRI during their third trimester of pregnancy were six times more likely to have a baby born with PPHN than women who did not take an antidepressant during pregnancy.