SSRI Litigation

Prozac: Risks and Side Effects

Like other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Prozac® is designed to boost levels of a naturally occurring chemical in the brain called serotonin and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.1 It was introduced to the market in 1987 and has been shown to cause a range of side effects, some of which can be serious.2

Prozac risks and side effects

Some long-term and short-term risks and side effects3 of Prozac include:

  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Unusual weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Decreased sex drive and changes in sexual function
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion and memory problems

Antidepressants, breast cancer and ovarian cancer

Researchers have found some evidence of a link between antidepressants and ovarian and breast cancer. Results have been mixed and additional studies are needed.4 Studies have also shown that Prozac and other antidepressants may interfere with tamoxifen, which is used to treat breast cancer.5

Prozac and beta blocker side effects

SSRIs like Prozac are not the only medications used to treat anxiety. Drugs known as beta blockers are prescribed for anxiety-related conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and phobias.6 Beta blockers have their own set of side effects, which include:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Cold hands
  • Dizziness

The combined use of beta blockers and SSRIs (including fluoxetine, the main ingredient in Prozac), is associated with a risk of heart blocks or erratic changes in heart rhythm.7

FDA warnings

In the years since Prozac has been on the market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a number of warnings about it. In 2005 and 2011, the FDA found medical evidence of serious risks for adults, children and unborn babies.8

In 2005, medical evidence showed that children and adults using Prozac and similar antidepressants had greater incidences of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. By 2007, the federal agency issued warnings that Prozac, like other antidepressants, was linked to increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and adults.9 In response, Prozac makers were required to add "black box" warnings on their product packaging.

Pregnancy and Prozac

In 2006, Prozac was linked to a serious heart and lung birth defect known as persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN).10 The condition is fatal in 10 percent of cases, and women who used SSRIs after the 20th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to have a baby with PPHN.

In cases of PPHN, a newborn has not adapted to breathing outside of its mother’s womb. As a result, the newborn may:

  • Require intensive care treatment
  • Be placed on a respirator
  • Suffer brain damage
  • May suffer other organ damage

If you or a loved one has experienced serious side effects from the use of Prozac, you may be entitled to legal compensation. Contact an experienced lawyer to learn more about your rights and discuss your case, and for assistance in filing a claim.

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