Research in the UK suggests that the antidepressant amitriptyline hydrochloride—sold under the brand names Elavil, Endep, Vanatrip, Amitid, Amitril, Tryptizol, Laroxyl, Sarotex, Lentizol, and as generic amitryptyline—might cause reduced brain function and death in the elderly. The Rottenstein Law Group compassionately advocates for those who have suffered serious adverse amitriptyline side effects. If you (or a family member) has taken amitriptyline and believe it harmed you, contact RLG for a free, confidential legal consultation immediately.
What Is Amitriptyline? When Is It Prescribed?
Amitriptyline is the generic name for the drug amitriptyline hydrochloride. First developed as Elavil by the American pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co., Inc., this prescription medication is used to treat depression, eating disorders, post-herpetic neuralgia, and migraine headaches. Merck obtained approval to sell the drug in April 1961, and doctors still prescribe it in the form of oral tablets ranging from 10 mg to 150 mg in strength. Amitriptyline is one of the most common antidepressants on the market.
Amitriptyline belongs to the tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) drug class, which behaves similar to more recently developed serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Both classes prevent receptors in the human brain from absorbing serotonin that has already been released. Serotonin helps maintain feelings of well-being in people, so preventing its re-absorption alleviates negative feelings. Unlike SSRIs, TCAs and SNRIs also prevent re-absorption of norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline), which regulates stress levels. The difference between TCAs and SNRIs is that SNRIs do not block “muscarinic,” “alpha 1 adrenergic,” and “histamine H1” receptors. TCAs do block these receptors, causing more adverse side effects than SNRIs.
Amitriptyline Might Cause Life-Threatening Side Effects
In June 2011, researchers at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom, investigated the “anticholinergic activity” caused by various drugs, including amitriptyline. Over a two-year period they studied the drugs’ effects on 13,000 U.K. individuals over the age of 65. They scored the participants’ drugs’ “anticholinergic burden” (ACB) on a scale of 0-3 and tallied them for each patient. They found the following:
- The risks associated with anticholinergic drugs were cumulative, so patients taking more than one drug were more likely to suffer adverse side effects;
- Participants whose combined ACB scores of five or greater suffered a four percent reduction in cognitive abilities;
- Twenty percent of participants whose ACB scores were four or greater died during the two-year study. By contrast, only seven percent of those not taking anticholinergic died during that period; and
- For every additional ACB point scored, the odds of dying increased by 26 percent.
According to the study, amitriptyline’s ACB score was three—severe. The researchers’ findings appear in the June 2011 issue of the medical journal Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Other Side Effects
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, amitriptyline causes numerous other side effects, incuding:
- slow or difficult speech;
- dizziness or faintness;
- weakness or numbness of an arm or a leg;
- crushing chest pain;
- rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat;
- severe skin rash or hives;
- swelling of the face and tongue;
- yellowing of the skin or eyes;
- jaw, neck, and back muscle spasms;
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body;
- unusual bleeding or bruising;
- seizures; and
- hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist).
RLG’s Lawyers Will Make Things Easier
The process of demanding compensation for the harm you’ve suffered can be complicated, even if it doesn’t seem fair that you should have to go through even more trouble to be made whole again. The lawyers of the Rottenstein Law Group believe that obtaining legal satisfaction from those who harmed you shouldn’t require more hardship. That’s why we do everything we can to streamline the process, and we will file an amitriptyline lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.
If you have taken amitriptyline and believe it harmed you, contact RLG today.