Paxil [Paroxetine]

Photo 1: Paxil [Paroxetine] Bottle and Pills by Dosage
Photo 2: Anti-Paxil Protesters
Photos 3 & 4: Paxil Magazine Advertisements

"Paroxetine (Paxil) was developed in 1978 by Jorgen Buus-Lassen and colleagues in a small Danish company called Ferrosan. Paroxetine was the second SSRI produced by Buus-Lassen. In 1976, this group produced femoxetine, which was in clinical trials by the time paroxetine came along...
Ferrosan sold paroxetine to Beecham Pharmaceuticals in 1980s. Beecham merged with SmithKline& French to become... with Glaxo-SmithKline (GSK), at that point was the world's largest pharmaceutical corporation."
-p. 72, Let Them Eat Prozac by David Healy (2003)

"GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil came on the market in 1997, followed by Pfizer's Zoloft in 1999."
-p. 83, The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell, MD ( 2004)

"Paroxetine belongs to the class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia (social anxiety disorder), generalized anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. It works by affecting the balance of chemicals in the brain that are associated with depression and anxiety disorders. "
- How does Paxil Work?
on Body & Health Canada - Factsheets

"Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • anxiety or nervousness
  • back pain
  • change in sense of taste
  • constipation
  • decreased or increased appetite
  • decreased sexual desire or ability
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness or drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • flatulence
  • flu-like symptoms
  • headache
  • increased sweating
  • nausea or vomiting
  • shakiness
  • stomach discomfort or pain
  • tingling, burning, or prickling sensations
  • trembling or shaking
  • trouble sleeping
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • yawning
  • weight loss or gain

Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • absence of or decrease in body movements
  • agitation
  • difficulty speaking
  • erection without sexual stimulation accompanied by pain or tenderness
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • feelings of paranoia
  • inability to move eyes
  • incomplete, sudden, or unusual body or facial movements
  • low blood sodium (confusion, seizures, drowsiness, dryness of mouth,
  • increased thirst, lack of energy)
  • muscle pain or weakness
  • problems with urination
  • rapid, involuntary eye movements
  • red or purple patches on skin
  • skin rash
  • talking, feeling, and acting with excitement and activity you cannot control
  • vision changes

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • chest pain
  • seizure or convulsions
  • serotonin syndrome (signs include agitation, confusion, diarrhea, fever, overactive reflexes, poor coordination, restlessness, shivering, sweating, talking or acting with excitement you cannot control, trembling or shaking, twitching)
  • thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication."
- What side effects are possible with Paxil? on Body & Health Canada - Factsheets

"Pharma stands accused, however, of actively trying to get peopele to internalize morbid messages that suggest they are ill. 'The way to sell drugs is to sell psychiatric sickness. If you are Paxil and you are the only manufacturer who has the drug for social anxiety disorder, it's in your interest to broaden the category as far as possible and make the borders as fuzzy as possible,' said US bioethicist Carl Elliott. Barry Brand, Paxil product director, told the journal Advertising Age that the company GlaxoSmithKline had been largely successful in this respect. 'Every marketer's dream is to find an unidentified or unkown market and develop it. That's what we were able to do with social anxiety disorder.' "
- p. 64, Big Pharma: Exposing the Global Healthcare Agendaby Jacky Law (2006)

"Paxil was also approved for "generalized anxiety disorder," and dhsortly after September 11, 2001, the company launched an ambitious campaign promoting the drug for this use. Commercials showed images of the World Trade Center towers collapsing. And who didn't feel anxious about that? But the implication was that even this perfectly appropriate (and, for mot people, temporary) anxiety should be treated with drugs. The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd summed it up best: "The more anxious the companies feel about profits, the more generalized the generalized anxiety disorders get."
- pp. 88-89, The Truth About Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It by Marcia Angell, MD ( 2004)

"Writing in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 1997, a group of experts headed by Dr. Alan Schatzberg, chairman of the department of psychiatry at the Standford University School of Medicine, sought to define the characteristic withdrawal effects, both psychological and physical, seen with Prozac-type medications [such as other SSRI's like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Luvoz]. They defined the core psychological effects as "anxiety-agitation, crying spells and irritability. " The Schatzberg group noted that in many patients "crying spells, in particular, are dramatic and disappear quickly" if the drug is restarted. The group defined the core physical effects as:

  1. disequilibrium (e.g. dizziness, spinning sensations, swaying or difficulty walking)
  2. gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g. nausea, vomiting)
  3. flu-like symptoms (e.g. fatigue, lethargy, muscle pain, chills)
  4. sensory disturbances (e.g. tingling, electric shock sensations)
  5. sleep disturbances (e.g. insomnia, vivid dreams)

... When one stops a Prozac-type medication, suddenly the brain's milieu is altered again. Brain cells that had to adapt to living with the drug now have to re-adapt to living without it. In effect, they have to dismantle their previous adjustments. The faster the drug washes out, the more abrupt the change and the more distressing for the brain. Since the original adjustments to months to put in place, they take weeks or more to undo... The bursts of abnormal activity represents the nervous system still distressed, still trying to undo former adjustments to the medication long after the drug is gone. The brain under goes a similar adjustment when withdrawing from long-term use of other central nervous system drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine, barbiturates or speed (amphetamines)."
- pp. 72 - 74, Prozac Backlash by Joseph Glenmullen, M.D. (2000)

"WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration is strengthening its warning that the antidepressant Paxil may be associated with birth defects, citing a new study that found increased risk of fetuses developing heart defects.
The FDA asked manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline to reclassify the drug, which goes by the generic name paroxetine, as a "Category D" drug for pregnant women. The classification means that studies in pregnant women have shown a risk to the fetus. However, the FDA said, the benefits of the drug may outweight the risk to the fetus.

Two studies of pregnant women taking Paxil during their first trimester have shown their babies have heart defects one and a half to two times a greater rate than the norm, the FDA said. The agency announced the strengthened warning Thursday. It issued a previous warning in September.

The FDA is advising doctors not to prescribe Paxil to women in their first three months of pregnancy or people who are planning to become pregnant, unless there are no other options."
- from FDA ups warning linking Paxil to birth defects, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (December 9, 2005)

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