The Lexapro injury attorneys at the Drug Law Center are now accepting pediatric and adult antidepressant injury cases from patients who have suffered harm from the medication.
Lexapro (escitalopram) is a SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant medication prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder and depression in adults. The medication is effective because it assists the body in restoring the balance of serotonin levels in the brain. The Forest Laboratories antidepressant medication can alleviate many of the common symptoms associated with depression including fatigue, loss of interest, lack of concentration in the sensation of worthlessness or guilt. Some doctors prescribe Lexapro to treat generalized anxiety disorder symptoms including irritability, difficulty concentrating, and restlessness.
History of Lexapro
The development of the generic form of Lexapro, escitalopram, was a collaborative effort in 1997 between Forest Laboratories and Lundbeck, a Danish international drug company. The medication was submitted for approval to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2001. Approval for use in the US medical marketplace occurred the following year (2002) for the treatment of major depression. The FDA approved Lexapro for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder at the end of 2003.
In 2004, Forest Laboratories was facing two civil lawsuits that alleged the company had illegally marketed escitalopram for use in teenagers and children. One lawsuit alleged that the drug maker was engaged in illegal activity by off-label promoting pushing doctors to prescribe the use of brand-name Lexapro to children. The basis of the lawsuit involving concealment by the company to reveal studies that showed Lexapro was ineffective in children and that Forest Laboratories bribed doctors through kickbacks when they prescribed the antidepressant to children.
Like many prescription medications and OTC drugs and remedies, Lexapro has contraindications when a patient should avoid taking the drug if they have a condition, take other specific medications, or are allergic to the product. Patients should avoid taking Lexapro if they have any of the following contraindications that include:
- History of epileptic seizures
- Mild degree of meaning
- Excessive cheerfulness/activity behaviors
- EKG-documented prolonged QT intervals
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
- Increased risk of bleeding
- low potassium levels in the blood
- Low sodium levels in the blood
- Low magnesium levels in the blood
- Bleeding from the duo denim, esophagus, or stomach
- Very rapid heartbeat
- Serotonin syndrome-adverse drug reaction
Lexapro can interact with other medications. Before taking the antidepressant drug, it is important to discuss all the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, herbs and supplements you take. The most common interactions that occur when taking Lexapro with other medications include:
- Blood thinners (anticoagulants) including warfarin are known to increase the potential risk of bleeding
- Aspirin and NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are known to increase potential risk of bleeding
- Other antidepressant medications used concomitantly with Lexapro (escitalopram) will likely increase serotonin levels in the body, which can lead to serotonin syndrome.
Serotonin syndrome can be serious when serotonin levels become too high. Common symptoms associated with this condition include agitation, racing heart rate, hallucinations, coma, muscle stiffness, fever sweating, lower high blood pressure, difficulty with coordination, muscle twitching, overactive reflexes, diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea.
Lexapro Side Effects
The most common minor Lexapro (escitalopram) side effects include:
- Upset stomach (dyspepsia)
- Insomnia (difficulty in sleeping)
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Excessive sweating (diaphoresis)
- Weight changes
- Difficulty in achieving orgasm
- Delayed ejaculation
- Diminished libido (lower sex drive)
Some major Lexapro (escitalopram) side effects include:
- Muscle cramps or pain
- Irregular fast heartbeat
- Decreased urine output
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Unusual weakness or tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting or nausea
- Swelling of the ankles, hands or face
- Increased thirst
Lexapro Black Box Warnings
The US Food and Drug Administration mandates that all prescription drug manufacturers post serious warnings in their Black Box Label to inform patients, doctors and the medical public. The current black box warnings required by the FDA involving Lexapro include:
- Lexapro may increase incidents of suicide and/or suicidal ideation (the thoughts of suicide).
- The risk of suicide and suicidal ideation is higher in young adults, teenagers, and children.
- Incident rates of suicide and suicidal ideation tends to occur more in the first few months of taking Lexapro or when there is a significant change in dosage.
Forest Laboratories warns patients experiencing any of the following symptoms to seek out immediate local emergency services or call 911, especially if the symptom is new, worsening or you are worried. These symptoms include:
- You have attempted to commit suicide
- Your displaying violent or aggressive actions
- You have acted out your dangerous impulses
- You are experiencing suicidal ideation with thoughts of suicide or thoughts of dying
- Have difficulty sleeping
- You feel irritable, angry, or restless
- You have developed panic attacks or are experiencing worsening anxiety
- Your levels of activity have increased compared to what you normally do
- You are displaying any other unusual change in your normal mood or behavior
Severe Allergic Reactions
Patients avoid taking Lexapro (escitalopram) if they notice any detectable allergic reaction to the product or its ingredients. Common symptoms involving severe allergic reactions include:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Severe rashes, blisters
- Swelling of the mouth, eyes, tongue or face
Some patients have experienced seizures or convulsions when taking Lexapro or the generic version escitalopram. Individuals with a history of convulsions and seizures tend to be at greater risk.
Low Sodium Levels
Lexapro and its generic form, escitalopram, are known to cause low levels of sodium (salt) in the body. This reaction to the medication tends to occur more often in senior citizens, hydrated patients and those taking water pills. The common side effects associated with low salt levels include:
- Weakness difficulty in thinking
- Trouble concentrating
- Memory issues
While Lexapro has yet to be recalled from the medical marketplace, the antidepressant medication has been linked to serious birth defects including hypoplastic left heart syndrome and PPHN (persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn). This was first made aware in 2006 when the Food and Drug Administration issued a public health warning to pregnant Lexapro users of the drug’s serious side effects including birth defects. As a result, many women filed Lexapro lawsuits alleging that their newborns suffered from facial, cranial, and limb malformations. Other mothers filed lawsuits alleging their children were born with an organ or heart defect.
Plaintiffs in every Lexapro lawsuit believe they suffered from a defect in the antidepressant medication in its design, manufacture or marketing phase. Nearly all plaintiffs are claiming that Forest Laboratories failed to provide proper warning to them, their doctors and to the medical community. Lawyers working on behalf of the plaintiffs are making claims that the drug maker conducted a variety of clinical tests on the antidepressant and learn that Lexapro has the potential of causing congenital birth defects.
However, instead of disclosing these new findings to users and doctors, Forest Laboratories continued to make Lexapro available to women of childbearing age, and mothers who were pregnant. All plaintiffs have said that they would have avoided taking Lexapro or its generic version escitalopram had they been made aware of the potentially serious side effects.
- Lexical Birth Defect Settlement Resolves Class Action Lawsuit
September 2014 – Plaintiffs and Forest Laboratories, maker of a Lexapro, have reached a settlement agreement in a Class Action lawsuit to finally resolve a case involving children who were improperly prescribed the medication. Allegations have been made that the pharmaceutical manufacturer improperly marketed Lexapro and sold the harmful drug to minors who were 17 years old and younger. The pediatric class action lawsuit alleged that the drug maker was in violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act for marketing and selling Lexapro to underage patients.
Plaintiffs who participated in the class action suit made allegations that the pharmaceutical company misrepresented the efficacy of the antidepressant medication claiming it could treat depression in minors. Even though Forest Laboratory denied the allegations, they still settle the case claiming it was to avoid ongoing legal expenses and the uncertainty of the outcome.
- Lexapro Birth Defect Study Leads to Hundreds of Filed Lawsuits
August 2012 – Drug manufacturers, including Forest Laboratories, is making claims that there is no connection between taking SSRI antidepressant medications and birth defects, despite numerous studies that show a definitive link between the two. Since Lexapro, Celexa, Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, and generic versions of all SSRIs medications, were first made available in the medical marketplace, many women have made allegations that their children’ ass birth defects were the result of taking the drug while pregnant, or in the years before becoming pregnant.
In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to female Lexapro users that taking the drug in the first trimester of pregnancy had the potential of increasing the risk of heart defects in newborns. Some of these defects included atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, hypoplastic left or right heart syndrome, aortic coarctation, Tetralogy of Fallot, and transposition of the great arteries.
Mothers in America give birth to approximately 40,000 infants each year born with common birth defects. An additional one million adults in the United States live every day with congenital heart defects. While many congenital defects do not alter the individual’s quality of life or necessitate the need of repair, others are complex and seriously compromise the individual’s health and well-being.
In recent years, researchers and doctors have found a link between SSRI antidepressants and the development of congenital birth defects. These antidepressants include Lexapro, Celexa, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and each one of their generic forms.
Now Accepting Lexapro Lawsuits
The Lexapro injury case attorneys working at the Drug Law Center are currently accepting antidepressant injury cases through contingency fee agreements. This means our law firm will postpone payment for our legal services until we have successfully negotiated an out-of-court settlement or won the lawsuit at trial. In addition, we are accepting cases involving children. To date, the FDA has only improved the name brand antidepressant Prozac to be used in children, even though Lexapro has been aggressively marketed to target children in drug promotions and marketing campaigns.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary case evaluation with our skilled legal team experienced in successfully resolving product liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, and personal injury cases. Our attorneys can guide you and your family through the legal process of filing a claim, talking with the defendant’s attorneys, gathering evidence and building a case to be used in a negotiated settlement or at trial in front of a judge and jury.
We can begin handling every aspect of your case today to ensure that your family receives the financial compensation they deserve for the harm you endured from the maker of a defective medication.