Paxil Withdrawal

One of the biggest controversies associated with Paxil (paroxetine) is the effects of its discontinuation. Paxil is a brand-name for one of the newer antidepressants that included the likes of Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Zoloft (sertraline). These are of the class of psychoactive drugs and antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and they act directly on the brain to bring about neurotransmitter (in that case, serotonin) balance. This is believed to help in stabilizing moods and increasing happiness.

The different types of SSRI have varying degrees of effectiveness as well as kind and severity of adverse side effects. SSRIs are recommended for short-term use only because they are considered habit-forming drugs with serious discontinuation symptoms. It was so common that term was actually coined for it: SSRI discontinuation syndrome.

As much as sexual dysfunction and nausea, developing withdrawal syndrome from the use of an SSRI is a risk patients are willing to take when balanced against the benefits of using the drug. The big problem with Paxil is that manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) aggressively marketed as a non-addictive drug, even taking out television ads that assured physicians and people suffering from major depression that at last there was an effective antidepressant medication that was not habit-forming. That would have been wonderful; unfortunately, it was not true.

Paroxetine is as habit-forming as any of the compounds in its class, and GSK knew it. A government probe into Paxil turned up evidence that GSK systematically downplayed or outright concealed the results of studies that indicated the severity of adverse side effects of Paxil.

As a result of this cover up, lawsuits have been filed against GSK by patients who believed the drug makers claim and suffered severe withdrawal syndrome symptoms as a result. Despite a preponderance of evidence presented to them, GSK continues to deny causation for any of the side effects claimed by patients in lawsuits even as it shells out billions to pay criminal fines, civil penalties and claim settlements.