Prozac pregnancy alert: Mothers-to-be on anti-depressants are putting babies at risk, warn scientists

Daily Mail

Thousands of women who take anti-depressants during pregnancy are endangering their unborn babies, researchers have warned.

The widely prescribed pills have been found drastically to raise the odds of miscarriages, premature birth, autism and life-threatening high blood pressure, they say.

Harvard researchers believe far too many women are taking the drugs during pregnancy because their GPs are not aware of the dangers.

They also suspect that drug companies are trying to play down the risks because anti-depressants are so lucrative to them.
They focused on the complications linked to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Prozac and Seroxat.

Between 2 and 3 per cent of pregnant women in the UK are thought to be on these drugs – up to 19,500 every year.
But the researchers have found that they increase the risk of a miscarriage by 17 per cent and more than double the likelihood of pre-eclampsia – high blood pressure during pregnancy – which can be fatal.

They also double the chances of the baby being born premature, or developing autism.

In addition, the researchers say, the babies are more likely to suffer from heart defects and problems with their bowels.
SSRIs treat depression by boosting the level of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin in the brain. But the researchers believe that serotonin is also getting into the womb and harming the development of the foetus’s brain, lungs, heart and digestive system.

Dr Adam Urato, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Tufts University School of Medicine, in Boston, who was involved in the study, said: ‘I am absolutely concerned – very concerned.

‘We are witnessing a large-scale human experiment. Never before have we chemically altered human foetal development on such a large scale.

‘And my concern is why I am trying to get the word out to patients, health care providers, and the public.’
Dr Alice Domar, assistant professor in obstetrics, gynaecology and reproductive biology at Harvard Medical School, said there was little evidence the pills effectively treated depression.

She said GPs were handing out prescriptions for the drugs even though depression could be far better treated through exercise, talking therapies and even yoga.

‘These are probably not particularly safe medicines to take during pregnancy,’ she said. ‘We’re not saying that every pregnant woman should go off her medication.

‘Obviously you don’t want a pregnant woman to attempt suicide.’

The researchers, who presented their findings to the annual conference of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in San Diego, California, have analysed more than 100 existing studies looking at the risks of SSRIs.

Their findings are due to be published next week in the respected journal Human Reproduction.

The researchers say that if women take the pills when they are trying for a baby but come off as soon as they find out they are pregnant, it may be too late.

Dr Urato added: ‘Many of the experts in this area receive funding from the anti-depressant majors. These experts continue to downplay the risks of these agents and to promote the benefits of their use in pregnancy.’

A spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said: ‘Clinical decisions about the treatment of depression are complex and must be made by clinicians in consultation with individual patients, regardless of whether or not they are pregnant.’

Natural News

British registered company, GlaxoSmithKline, faces $3 billion in penalties after pleading guilty to the biggest health care fraud case in history. GSK admitted that physicians had been bribed to push potentially dangerous drugs in exchange for Madonna tickets, Hawaiian holidays, cash and lucrative speaking tours. They also admitted distributing misleading information regarding the antidepressant Paxil. The report claimed that it was suitable for children, but failed to acknowledge data from studies proving its ineffectiveness in children and adolescents.

GSK faced charges that they had used the gifts to sell three drugs that were either unsafe, or used for purposes that were not approved. The first drug, Paxil also known as Seroxat, was touted as safe and effective for children and adolescents. The ineffectiveness of Paxil, and the link to suicides, meant that it was banned for kids under 18-years-olds in 2008.

The second drug, Avandia was used in Britain to treat diabetes until it was withdrawn due to safety fears, including increased risk of heart attacks. The US government claimed that GSK had attempted to conceal the data surrounding the dangers.

The third drug, Wellbutrin is used in the UK for treating depression, but it was alleged that GSK had recommended physicians used it for ADHD, lost libido and as a slimming aid. None of which were approved uses for the drug.

The moral code of Big Pharma companies exposed

Sir Andrew Witty, chief executive of GSK said “Whilst these offenses originate in a different era for the company, they cannot and will not be ignored. On behalf of GSK, I want to express our regret and reiterate that we have learned from the mistakes that were made. We are deeply committed to doing everything we can to live up to and exceed the expectations of those we work with and serve. In the US, we have taken action at all levels in the company. We have fundamentally changed our procedures for compliance, marketing and selling.”

US attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz said: “The GSK sales force bribed physicians to prescribe GSK products using every imaginable form of high priced entertainment, from Hawaiian vacations to paying doctors millions of dollars to go on speaking tours, to a European pheasant hunt, to tickets to Madonna concerts.”

This is the biggest settlement in the history of drug industries, ahead of the 2009 Pfizer case in which it was fined $2.2 billion for promoting four drugs for unapproved uses. In 2010, GSK paid $96 million to a whistle-blower who exposed contamination problems and a management cover up in Puerto Rico.

The practice of pushing drugs for unapproved uses is endemic within the drug industries. Two of the largest drug companies have been caught and fined huge amounts for chasing sales targets using any means necessary. It proves that the health of customers, even children, ranks lower on the companies’ agenda than profit. Using bribes to get doctors to prescribe drugs shows a complete lack of moral fiber from both sales teams and the doctors. After this case, surely the doctors also need to face the courts for their conduct.

Whilst the amounts of money seem to be a huge punishment for GSK, the settlement is merely a slap on the wrist for a company whose market value is $133 billion. Can we trust another multinational that promises to clean up its act, when others have promised the same, only to behave just as recklessly but much more surreptitiously.