Written by Avvo Staff

Dangerous Drug: Celexa Risks & Lawsuit Information

Celexa, the marketed name of Citalopram, is part of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain, which has been shown in some studies to increase mental balance. Celexa is prescribed most commonly to treat depression, anxiety, panic disorder, ADHD, PMDD, OCD, and body dysmorphic disorder.

Originally created in 1989 by the Lundbeck pharmaceutical company, the patent for the drug expired in 2003, allowing other companies to produce a generic version of the drug. In recent years, Lundbeck has released a slightly altered formulation of the drug marketed as Cipralex or Lexapro and acquired new patents. Forest Labs currently manufactures and markets Celexa in the United States.

Adverse Risks of Taking Celexa

Though Celexa is still on the market and is prescribed often, it has been shown to potentially cause many side effects, some severe. Side effects are often caused by abnormal increases in serotonin levels in other areas of the body, such as the intestinal tract. Other causes can be decreased levels of dopamine, which is associated with increased serotonin production. Celexa has also been shown to act as a mild antihistamine, giving it certain sedative properties.

Commonly experienced side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach Pain
  • Uncontrolled Shaking
  • Excitement
  • Anxiety
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Joint or Muscular Pain
  • Dry Mouth
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Decrease in Sex Drive

More severe side effects may develop in some patients. If you or a loved one taking Celexa experience any of the following side effects, seek medical help immediately.

Severe side effects of Celexa can include:

  • Hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
  • Fever accompanied with sweating and confusion
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Sever muscle stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts or feelings

It is also not recommended to take Celexa in combination with the herbal extract, St. John's Wort, which has been shown to react with the drug and can lead to serotonin syndrome. Serotonin syndrome effects can range from mild anxiety and irritability to uncontrollable muscle spasm and even death. SSRIs, including Celexa, can cause an increased risk of bleeding and should not be taken in combination with aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or anticoagulant medications.

Additionally, some patients who stop taking Celexa abruptly may experience SSRI discontinuation syndrome, which can include symptoms such as nausea, sweating, confusion, nightmares, vertigo, and a perceived electric shock-like sensation. It is recommended to taper off dosage of Celexa or any other SSRI medications, rather than stop treatment suddenly.

Celexa Claims and Lawsuits

Lawsuits are being filed with increasing frequency against Forest Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Celexa, especially in cases of increased suicidal thoughts and violent behavior in adolescents and young adults taking the drug. For instance, a lawsuit against Forest Pharmaceuticals was filed after the high-profile school shooting in El Cajon, CA in 2001, because the shooter, 18 year-old Jason Hoffman has previously been prescribed Celexa, and it was suggested he suffered from severe side effects. Several other prominent cases of adolescent violence have preceded lawsuits against many SSRI drugs prescribed to the juveniles.

A current class action lawsuit, consolidated from two separate class action lawsuits, is being addressed in the District of Massachusetts against Forest Pharmaceuticals. The charges against the defendant are that the company engaged in false and misleading promotion of Celexa, and sought to induce physicians to prescribe Celexa for pediatric and adolescent use by paying them on the side (which of course is illegal).

In Missouri, a class action lawsuit consisting of 42 different cases is being filed on the claim that Celexa has been the cause of suicide or suicidal thoughts.

Getting Legal Help

Though Celexa is still on the market and approved by the FDA, its maker Forest Pharmaceuticals, along with the makers of many other SSRIs, is facing lawsuits due to the significant risks and side effects of the drug. Those who have been affected by severe side effects, harm, or grievances due to taking Celexa or due to a loved one being prescribed the drug should get in contact with a personal injury lawyer. A lawsuit can be filed, as well as possibly taking part in current class action lawsuits.

Before consulting a lawyer, be sure to have thorough documentation for the case. Include the date the patient was prescribed Celexa, the duration of time taking the drug, as well as any and all side effects experienced while taking Celexa. A lawyer experienced in cases against pharmaceutical companies can advise their client as to the viability of their case and the likelihood of compensation for their damages.

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