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Many risks of anti-depressants are relatively well-known and publicized. One of the most common side effects of anti-depressants occurs when expectant mothers take them. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) have a very high risk of resulting in birth defects in a newborn, reports the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institute for Health (NIH).

By some estimates, between 20 and 30 percent of newborns who are “exposed to SSRIs towards the end of gestation have disorders such as agitation, abnormal muscle tone and suction, seizures and hypornatraemia.” This research was first made public in late 2005, according to NIH, and immediately pregnant women who were taking SSRIs were advised to seek alternative therapies and, in some cases, even encouraged to reevaluate the diagnosis.

And yet birth defects, while perhaps the best-known side effects of SSRIs, may not be the most severe or serious. According to a publication from the Harvard Medical School, SSRIs can also result in serious physical symptoms ranging from insomnia to stomach issues, skin rashes, and joint or muscle pain. The risk of internal bleeding is approximately the same as it is with NSAIDs, found in common medications such as aspirin and naproxen.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its largest recall of medical products ever in 2014, according to the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS). The recall, posted to the FDA's website in August, was of 233 Class I products manufactured by Puerto Rico-based Customed.

The FDA classifies medical devices and products into three categories: Class I have the least potential to harm a user—Class III products are usually those that sustain life. Class I examples can include bandages, enema kits, and any medical product not necessary to keep a person's vital organs functioning. Nearly half of all medical products on the market are classified into Class I, according to the FDA.

The devices recalled by Customed were recalled because of packaging flaws. The products were primarily sterile convenience packs; the recall was initiated because of “adhesion in the sterile packaging,” according to RAPS. If the product was used on a patient, it had the potential to not be sterile and lead to infection, though as of September, no cases had been discovered of a person suffering an infection or side effects because of Customed products. The FDA generally does not wait until a case of injury has been discovered to recall medical products; once the manufacturer is aware of the problem, it is responsible to initiate a recall immediately.

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In recent years, testosterone therapies to help men with erectile dysfunction or low testosterone levels have become more common than ever. With the advances in such medication, however, come advances in risks that accompany such treatment. According to WebMD.com, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), are not as common as one may think. Part of this could because of the many risks that accompany TRT and the fact that many physicians are not yet familiar with the overall picture of such therapy.

Testosterone gels carry their own set of risks separate from those associated with pill therapy. Pill therapy can have unwanted side effects such as acne, sleep apnea, and breast enlargement, according to WebMD. Yet when a man uses a testosterone cream or gel, it can have unintended side effects for his family. “If a woman or child comes into contact with testosterone gels, it can cause side effects in them, including hair growth and premature puberty,” according to WebMD. Most doctors say that this transference is rare, but men using testosterone gel should take care to wash their hands thoroughly after use to mitigate the possibility of such unwanted side effects.

Yet transference to women and children is not the only highly publicized negative effect of testosterone gels. According to Bloomberg News, earlier this year, Abbott Laboratories (ABT), the manufacturer of AndroGel, a very common brand of TRT gel, was sued by five men claiming that the ABT failed to properly warn patients of severe side effects of the gel on their hearts. One man allegedly had a stroke as a result of AndroGel use.

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Defective drug manufacturers that have not properly tested products or have been found to market illegally with misleading statements are facing the consequences of lawsuits. When someone is the victim of taking a defective drug, they can suffer medical, emotional, and financial hardships as a result.

The FDA issued a press release last year that said the manufacturer of Risperdal, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, was fined $2.2 billion for the illegal promotion of its drug to males under the age of 18. Risperdal marketing material highlighted symptoms the drug can be used for while minimizing warnings about its safety. The FDA stood firm by its commitment to prevent and fight all forms of health care fraud and hold responsible parties accountable.

Risperdal is labeled as an antipsychotic medication, but has been linked to gynecomastia, an enlargement of male breast tissue and increased levels of prolactin, a hormone that can stimulate milk production. In an article from the Wall Street Journal, a Duke psychiatrist reported that for 70 percent of the cases he analyzed, Risperdal had the strongest connection to gynecomastia in minors among any of the newer antipsychotic drugs.

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Cymbalta is a multi-use prescription drug most commonly used as an anti-depressant. Despite several clinical trials during the approval process of Cymbalta that alleged Cymbalta caused depression in otherwise healthy patients, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not recall the drug for use as an anti-depressant, according to the New York Times. Most tellingly, the suicide of 19-year-old drug tester Traci Johnson, who had no other symptoms of depression, brought the issues with Cymbalta to wider attention. Four years after this negative publicity, in 2008, Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of Cymbalta, sought to have the drug approved for treatment for chronic pain, especially in patients suffering from Fibromyalgia. The drug was not approved for such use in 2008. It would eventually be approved for such treatment in 2010, according to another article in the New York Times.

Cymbalta has been back in the news recently, as several lawsuits have been brought against Eli Lilly by patients using Cymbalta as an antidepressant. These patients claim to have experienced “brain zaps and other side effects” when attempting to stop taking the drug, according to Law360.com. Yet Eli Lilly representatives have responded to the claims by saying that medical professionals were made well aware of the risks when prescribing Cymbalta to their patients, and thus the fault does not lie with the drug manufacturer for failing to make patients aware of the risks of use.

According to Law360.com, Lilly earned $18 billion from 2004 to 2011 for the sales of Cymbalta. Like other antidepressants, patients are discouraged from suddenly stopping to take Cymbalta, as this can lead to serious conditions, either physical (ie: nausea, headache) or emotional (ie: irritability, anxiety, nightmares). The complaint alleges that if patients had known how difficult it would be to stop taking Cymbalta, they would never have started to take it in the first place.

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