Effexor Birth Defect Cases Consolidated into MDL

Effexor attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that lawsuits alleging Effexor and Effexor XR birth defects have been consolidated in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. This consolidation will ensure efficiency and consistency for all plaintiffs.

Effexor is prescribed to treat depression, panic and anxiety disorders and is manufactured by Pfizer and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, though the drug was approved by the FDA in 1993, it has been found that the medication can cause serious, life-threatening birth defects in children whose mothers took Effexor while pregnant.

The drug affects several neuro chemicals in the body, inhibiting norepinephrine and serotonin reuptake and slightly inhibiting dopamine reuptake. Such inhibition results in increased neuro chemicals in the nervous system. Effexor is part of a class of antidepressants known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), which the FDA released warnings about in 2006.

The first safety warnings regarding SNRIs were for the possibility of developing serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include fast heartbeat, increased body temperature, restlessness, hallucinations, and loss of coordination.

The MDL lawsuits accuse Pfizer Inc. and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Inc. of failing to inform the FDA, doctors and patients that Effexor could cause serious birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Plaintiffs assert that all pending lawsuits involve similar concerns of improper marketing of Effexor as safe to take during pregnancy, despite clear and knowing evidence linking the drug to significant birth defects.

Among the birth defects suffered by children of Effexor users indlude, but are far from limited to: anecephaly, atrial septal defects, coarctation of the aorta, cleft palate, gastroschisis, neural-tube defects, craniosynostosis, infant omphalocele, and clubbed feet.

A March 2010 study associated antidepressant-exposure in the womb with developmental delays, particularly when exposed during the second or third trimester. The study, which was published in Pediatrics, found that exposed children demonstrated difficulty sitting up and walking without support. In fact, exposed babies took 16 days longer to learn how to sit up than children not exposed to antidepressants. By the time the children reached 19 months, those exposed had greater difficulty occupying themselves for more than 15 minutes at a time.

Additional research indicates that women taking an SNRI within the first 12 weeks of gestation (when many women still do not realize they are pregnant) have a 40% greater risk of their child being born with some sort of malformation. Heart defects specifically were 60% more likely.

In 2006, Health Canada issued a warning to all pregnant women taking an antidepressant, stating that doing so may cause life-threatening effects for their babies. Nursing mothers were also urged to stay away from SNRIs, which can secrete in breast milk and have adverse effects on infants’ development.

Pfizer failed to include the possibility of birth defects on its labeling for Effexor to maximize its profits, and though Pfizer is a multi-billion dollar company, the results have been devastating to the average American.

Matthew Schultz was born in 2009, and his mother took Effexor throughout her pregnancy because her doctor was never informed of the risks, was never told of any warnings for pregnancy problems. Matthew lived only two hours after birth.

Another child, Indiana, was born to a woman who was told Effexor could not travel through her placenta or breast milk. This fraudulent information was revealed as such by her obstetrician, however, who, upon hearing the medications the mother was on, called down to the neonatal intensive care unit to tell staff to expect an “Effexor baby.” Indiana was born one month premature, and, just six weeks after birth, stopped breathing and died.

Effexor attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently investigating antidepressant birth injury cases from all 50 states. If you or a loved one took an antidepressant during pregnancy and had a child with a related birth defect, you should contact a qualified attorney as soon as possible for a free legal consultation.

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