The People's Perspective on Medicine

Paxil Caused Problem With Potency

Q. No one warned me that Paxil might affect my sexual ability. I suffered impotence for several years until I stopped taking Paxil. Then the problem went away.
Stopping Paxil turned into a nightmare. It took weeks of gradually decreasing dosages to get off, and even then I had withdrawal problems. Fortunately, sexual inability was not one of them.
The company advertises that Paxil is not habit forming. I’m not sure what “habit forming” means to them, but if it has to do with withdrawal problems, then they are lying.
If I ever need another medicine for depression, how will I know which one won’t cause impotence?
A. Antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft are notorious for affecting sexuality. Impotence, lowered libido and inability to achieve orgasm are possible side effects.
You are quite right that the company states Paxil “is not habit forming.” But the official prescribing information warns that “discontinuation (particularly when abrupt) may lead to symptoms such as dizziness, sensory disturbances, agitation or anxiety, nausea and sweating.”
We are sending you our Guides to Antidepressant Pros and Cons, Drugs that Affect Sexuality and Treating Sexual Dysfunction. Anyone who would like copies, please send $3 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No.YPX-936, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.
Antidepressants that may be less likely to affect sexuality include bupropion (Wellbutrin), trazodone (Desyrel) and nefazodone (Serzone).
Q. People are being fleeced for their prescription medicine. I thought the politicians said they were going to look into this situation, but all they think about is getting reelected.
I’ve got news for them. Come November, I’ll remember. I’m not voting for anyone who wouldn’t vote for a decent prescription drug benefit for seniors.
A. You are quite right that Congress has let senior citizens down again. After all the promises they haven’t been able to come up with a practical plan to reduce people’s high drugstore bills. The only recourse you have is the ballot and we encourage you to let your Congress people know how you feel.
Q. A year ago, at age 55, I was finally diagnosed as having celiac disease. This is an abnormal reaction to gluten, a component in common grains (wheat, rye, barley and possibly oats). As a result, the immune system attacks the small intestine and can cause dramatic problems.
Doctors think this condition is rare. I myself went through test after test over the years, with nothing definitive found until last year. So have my daughter and son, who inherited this condition.
Research shows that one in 150 adults in this country may suffer from celiac disease. But many are undiagnosed or told they have other ailments such as chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome. How many people are taking medications they don’t need when the true treatment is a life-long gluten-free diet?
A. Thank you for your story. Celiac disease is often overlooked. Digestive tract problems may not be the only symptoms. Other tip-offs include constant fatigue, brittle bones and anemia because nutrients are not absorbed properly. There is a blood test to help with diagnosis.

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    About the Author
    Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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