Dangerous drug lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that more lawsuits are being filed against Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor and other SSRI antidepressants alleging birth defects. The antidepressant lawsuits allege that mothers who took the medications while pregnant unknowingly exposed their unborn children to serious health problems.
The SSRI manufacturers, which include Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), and Wyeth, have already paid billions of dollars to settle birth defect lawsuits in recent years. The plaintiffs in these cases are alleging that the manufacturers knew, or should have known, that its medications were associated with an increased risk of birth defects, and did not include adequate warnings on its labels.
SSRI stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, to which various studied have linked the potential for congenial heart defects, cranial birth defects, spina bifita, and various other health disorders. In the first lawsuit against GSK for Paxil heart birth defects, the parents were awarded $2.5 million.
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Other SSRIs associated with such conditions include Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox, and Viibryd. In 2006, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that requested all SSRI manufacturers change their prescribing labels to detail the risks of persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) in newborns. PPHN is a life-threatening lung disorder that manifests soon after birth. In response to this study, the FDA published a public health alert, stating that the study’s findings showed PPHN was six times more common in newborns whose mothers were prescribed SSRIs during the pregnancy.
Some studies have found that the risks vary between brands of SSRIs. One published in 2007 stated that women taking Zoloft had double the risk of their child developing a heart defect, while that risk was triple in Paxil users. Recently, Zoloft birth defect lawsuits were consolidated into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) to expedite the process for hundreds of plaintiffs. To date, more than 250 women have filed lawsuits in the MDL, claiming Pfizer failed to warn about the risks of taking Zoloft during pregnancy.
A separate lawsuit being heard in West Virginia involves nearly 20 plaintiffs, all the children of mothers who took Zoloft while pregnant. The plaintiff’s injuries range from holes in the heart, to PPHN, to skull and facial deformations.
One of the most recent suits filed was by a mother who took Effexor throughout her pregnancy. The Montana mother alleged that a doctor prescribed her Effexor XR even though he knew she was trying to get pregnant, and recommended she continue the doses throughout her pregnancy. Her child was born with a serious heart anomaly, which required a several surgeries, and will require many more in the future. Effexor XR is an SNRI, which is similar to SSRI antidepressants.
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A study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology added more fuel to the SSRI-birth defect fire. It found that, among nearly 230,000 infants born to Tennessee mothers, those whose mothers took an SSRI during their second trimesters were more likely to be born earlier. For every SSRI prescription filled in pregnant mothers, their risk of going into preterm labor doubled. Additionally, infants were significantly more likely to suffer seizures if their mother used SSRIs, particularly during the third trimester. A professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham recommended that women prescribed to SSRIs should stop taking them as soon as they learn they are pregnant.
Of course, this comes with its own issues, and many women are now faced with a difficult decision. Depression itself is a risk to a pregnancy, and for some women, the choice becomes more difficult when their symptoms are unmanageable without medication. Doctors suggest women prescribed to antidepressants should plan their pregnancies, and have honest conversations with their doctors about the manageability of their depression without medication.
SSRI antidepressant lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm encourage mothers who have any questions about the pending litigation to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Children born with serious birth defects require extensive medical attention, and a skilled antidepressant lawyer can help you obtain maximum compensation for past and future medical bills and any lost wages.