Paroxetine or paroxetine hydrochloride (sold as Paxil® in the United States and Canada; Seroxat® in the UK and China; Aropax® in Australia and New Zealand; and Deroxat® in Switzerland and France) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It was released in 1992 by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and has since become one of the most prescribed antidepressants on the market. It is the second most prescribed anti-depressant in the UK. more...
It is now the subject of a fraud case in the United States due to allegations that GlaxoSmithKline suppressed research indicating that the drug caused young people to become suicidal.
Like some other antidepressants, it is also prescribed in the treatment of anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It was the first (and as of 2002, the only) antidepressant formally approved in the United States for the treatment of social anxiety disorder, causing it to be sometimes referred to (although inaccurately) as an anti-shyness drug.
The manufacturers claim it is impossible to become addicted to paroxetine. Other campaigners disagree. The medical community generally considers that withdrawal symptoms are not enough to regard a drug as addictive; it has to leave the user needing more and more in order to gain the same desired effect. There seems to be some confusion on whether paroxetine and other SSRIs are addictive. They are not addictive in the classic sense as the user does not crave more of the drug. However, there is little or no doubt that withdrawal symptoms are present when stopping the drug and tolerance may develop over time. Withdrawals symptoms can include sensations of electric shocks in the brain, unusual dizzy feeling, and a host of other symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms usually disappear when another dose of the medication is taken. It is not, however, considered addictive because there is no actual craving for the drug (see Side Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms).
Concerns are growing about the side effects of Paxil.
Recent studies have found that the drug is relatively ineffective in children, and suggested that they are prone to becoming suicidal in the early stages of treatment. Some psychologists believe that this is due to the way the drug begins to work in many patients. The first effect most people notice is a decrease in the lethargy and amotivation they experienced during their depression. This effect happens before the depression itself improves, so children may end up with enough "energy" and motivation to act on suicidal tendencies they may have already had.
It is also important to note many people who are prescribed Paxil are suicidal to begin with. However most studies have compared suicide rates in patients using Paroxetine against a control group of depressed individuals not being treated with paroxetine and the paroxetine group was reported to be twice as likely to commit suicide.
Although the manufacturers say there is no reliable clinical evidence that the drug can cause violence or aggression, a wrongful death suit was filed against GlaxoSmithKline in June 2001 by the surviving family of Donald Schell, a Wyoming man who had killed his wife, daughter and grandchild after two days on the drug. During the investigation of the clinical records, it was reported that, although paroxetine is safe and effective most of the time, in a minority of cases the drug can cause unpredictable side effects such as wild mood swings or suicidal thoughts. The jury ultimately awarded damages of $8 million against GlaxoSmithKline.
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