FDA Alert: Celexa May Cause Heart Problems
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting physicians and patients about the dangers of taking the antidepressant Celexa — also known as citalopram hydrobromide — because it can cause serious and possibly fatal heart problems. Celexa has been shown to cause changes in the electrical activity of the heart and abnormal heart rhythm, so taking the drug is discouraged for patients with certain conditions, unless their state of health makes it worth the risk. Patients at particular risk include those with heart conditions and people with low levels of potassium and magnesium in the blood.
The drug’s medication label has been updated to include the new information. Those at high risk of heart problems (especially QT interval prolongation and Torsade de Pointes) should have ECG monitoring and/or electrolyte monitoring when taking citalopram. The maximum recommended dosage amount is 20 mg per day for patients over the age of 60. And, patients with persistent QTc measurements greater than 500 ms should consult a doctor to stop taking Celexa.
What is Celexa?
Celexa, known generically as citalopram HBr, is an antidepressant from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) drug family. Manufactured by Forest Pharmaceuticals, Celexa came on the market in 1999. It is used to treat depression by increasing the amount of serotonin in a patient’s brain
Celexa and Birth Defects
Celexa has been connected to birth defects. Mothers taking SSRIs during pregnancy – especially in the third trimester – run the risk of giving birth to a child with one or more of the following birth defects:
- Congenital Heart Defects
- Conotruncal Defects
- Cleft Lip & Clubfoot
- Septal Defects
- Ventricular Obstruction
- And Many More
Celexa is not approved by the FDA for pediatric depression and cannot be promoted for the treatment of teens with depression. But doctors can prescribe Celexa for teens for “off-label” or unapproved use.
The New York State Attorney General began an inquiry into Celexa’s “off-label” use after reports that Forest Pharmaceuticals did not disclose all the results of a failed drug trial in children while promoting a positive drug trial with patients of the same age.
FDA requires all antidepressant medications to have a "black box" warning about the increased risk of suicide in teenagers and children. But, a black box warning does not prohibit the use of antidepressants in children and teenagers.
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Read about other dangerous drugs in our drug news archive.
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