Next week BBC’s Panorama team are tackling the issue of antidepressant use in pregnancy. The programme will be broadcast on Mon 1st july, entitled ‘The Truth About Pills and Pregnancy‘.
According to the UK Independent “The programme will broadcast an interview with Anna Wilson, whose son David spent the first five weeks of his life in hospital. A 20-week scan had shown that David had a heart defect and would need surgery immediately after being born. Anna had been taking the prescription drug Citalopram to treat her anxiety four years before her pregnancy began, and was told that she was safe to continue whilst pregnant. The show will feature interviews with Prof Pilling, who will say that GP prescription guidelines are about to be updated to take into account evidence suggesting a link with SSRIs and heart defects.”
A manufacturer contacted by the BBC denies any link to major foetal malformations (no prizes for guessing Lundbeck here).
Panorama spoke to eight mothers who had babies born with serious heart defects after taking a commonly used SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) antidepressant while pregnant.
An article on BBC News stated “Lundbeck, the manufacturer of Citalopram, said a recent review of scientific literature concluded that the drug ‘does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of major foetal malformations’.”
It seems that Lundbeck are lying again or there is a serious lack of communication between the various medicines regulators and the pharmaceutical industry. Below is an adverse reaction report logged with the Irish Medicines Board involving a baby born with a Cleft Lip, associated with the mother’s use of Citalopram.
What about the following, also reported as Citalopram induced? This particular report concerns the intrauterine death of an unborn baby due to ‘Citalopram exposure during pregnancy’.
Then there was our meeting in Copenhagen with the two Lundbeck goons. We asked if Citalopram/Escitalopram was a teratogen. Their answers (or non-answers) may surprise you…
Leonie Right, will I go on because there’s no point, we’re stuck at that one? Anyway. Do you think that it’s advisable to virtually bathe foetuses in Serotonin given it is now accepted this family of drugs are firmly associated with birth defects?
Dr. Madsen Virtually bathe?
Leonie Foetuses in Serotonin – pregnancy.
Tony Pregnant women.
Dr. Madsen I don’t know what you mean by virtually bathe
Leonie I’m talking about anti-depressants are known to cause birth defects. If you think so, would it not be better if women of child-bearing age were cautioned against, perhaps even contra-indicated from using this drug? Citalopram or Escitalopram?
Dr. Madsen Em, I think in…..
Leonie Your views?
Dr. Madsen In pregnancy?
Dr. Madsen Em, I think em, physicians need to double their efforts to make sure that there is a correct risk versus eh, benefit eh, assessment of the em, of any action.
Leonie Is Citalopram and Escitalopram a teratogen?
Dr. Madsen Em, meaning, what, what, what do you mean?
Leonie Can it cause harm to foetuses? Unborn babies.
Dr. Madsen Em, obviously, in order to have our compounds approved we have done em, a large number of pre-clinical trials em, and we are constantly monitoring and the eh, while the recommendation I believe throughout, is to be, be extra cautious when administering any eh, medications to pregnant women…
Leonie Can it cause harm?….. to unborn babies?
Dr. Madsen Anything can cause harm, can cause harm in any dose
Leonie So yes it can.
Dr. Madsen depending on dose
Em, why if it can cause harm, is this not clearly, clearly stated on the packaging and information leaflet?
Mr. Schroll Do you talk about the patient leaflet or do you talk about the SPC, the label that the Doctors use in order to prescribe the medication?
Leonie I’m talking about a pregnant woman that goes down and gets it in the chemist. Is it on the patient information leaflet?
Mr. Schroll In the patient leaflet it says you have to talk to your Doctor….
Leonie And what does it say in the Doctor’s leaflet?
Mr. Schroll That he has to be extra cautious. I think that if you go to the… to, to the Irish home page, I believe it is like that, it’s like that in Denmark and elsewhere. If you go to the medicines agency authorities
Mr. Schroll the medicines agency authorities you can see what is in the checks that the Doctors and that is up to them to decide…..
Leonie So you are passing the buck back to the Doctor again.
Mr. Schroll I think when it’s prescription medication, yes. If it was eh, eh,
Leonie And will they be told that it can harm their unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll Sorry?
Leonie Will the pregnant woman be told that the drug can, can harm her unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll It would be part of the discussion to talk about the risks and the benefits and that would be up to the Doctor.
Leonie It would be up to the Doctor to tell them that the drug can harm their unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll Eh, now, you’re talking…..
Leonie It’s not up to Lundbeck, no? It’s up to the Doctor to tell the woman that the drug can harm their unborn baby?
Mr. Schroll To be cautious, yes, yes.
The Irish word ‘amadáin’ springs to mind. I could think of a few English ones too but think I’d better refrain. The Panorama programme should be excellent viewing as usual, particularly with Shelley Jofre as reporter. She did the previous expose concerning GSK and Seroxat suicides. I can see her putting Lundbeck in their place.
Lundbeck Meeting here.
IMB adverse reaction reports.
MHRA (UK) adverse reaction reports.