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SSRI Antidepressants Involved in Litigation


SSRI antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S., but an increased incidence of birth defects has prompted an influx of lawsuits. Recent studies have linked selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to several different birth defects, including heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), cleft lip or palate, autism spectrum disorder, and more. Many families whose children have suffered from a birth defect have filed lawsuits against the drug manufacturers seeking compensation. SSRIs currently involved in lawsuits include Zoloft®, Prozac®, Paxil®, Lexapro®, and Celexa®. If you were prescribed an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, please contact a defective drug attorney in your area today to discuss potential legal action.

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There are many different types of SSRI antidepressants that have been linked to troubling complications.

Medications Named in Lawsuits

Since the first drug's release, there have been many lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of SSRIs for claims of illegal marketing tactics and a failure to warn doctors and patients of the increased risk of complications.

Zoloft®

Zoloft® is manufactured by Pfizer and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. The drug was intended to be a safer alternative to another SSRI antidepressant, Prozac®. Zoloft® is used to treat major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. It is one of the most frequently prescribed medications in the U.S.

Hundreds of lawsuits against Pfizer regarding Zoloft® and birth defects have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in a Pennsylvania district court.

Zoloft® has been linked to numerous birth defects, including heart defects and PPHN. When the drug is taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, it is three times more likely to result in gastroschisis or omphalocele, which causes the organs to grow outside the fetal body. Pfizer continues to maintain that Zoloft® does not cause birth defects. Hundreds of lawsuits against Pfizer regarding Zoloft® and birth defects have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in a Pennsylvania district court.

Prozac®

Prozac® was developed by Eli Lilly & Company in the 1980s to treat depression, pediatric depression, OCD, bulimia nervosa, panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It was one of the first SSRI antidepressants developed, and it remains one of the most frequently prescribed medications today.

This drug has been linked to numerous birth defects, including heart defects, PPHN, cleft lip or palate, and anencephaly. There is also an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder, especially when the drug is taken during the second or third trimester.

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By 2006, the FDA had issued a warning concerning the risk of suicidal thoughts in patients up to age 24. Eli Lilly & Company settled a case in 2003 with the parents of a South Carolina teen who had committed suicide just three weeks after starting the medication.

Paxil®

Paxil was approved by the FDA in 1992 and is used to treat major depressive disorder, panic disorder, OCD, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, chronic headaches, and bipolar disorder. Paxil has been reclassified as a Grade D drug, meaning that research shows verifiable risks in regards to safety during pregnancy. It is now considered one of the most dangerous drugs to a developing fetus. Studies have found that women who took Paxil® during the first trimester were up to two times more likely to have a child born with a heart defect, most commonly a hole in the heart, including atrial septal defect (ASD) and ventricular septal defect(VSD).

In 2011, the FDA issued a warning stating that Paxil® use during pregnancy can increase the risk of PPHN. Other birth defects associated with the drug include a cleft lip or palate, autism spectrum disorder, and anencephaly. Newborns are also at risk of addiction to Paxil® when the drug is taken during the third trimester. In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Paxil®, settled over 800 birth defect lawsuits, with plaintiffs receiving roughly $1.2 million. Other cases involving suicides and attempted suicides were settled for a total of $390 million.

Lexapro®

Lexapro® is manufactured by Forest Laboratories and was introduced in 2002. The medication is used to treat major depressive disorder in adults and pediatric patients over the age of 12, and GAD in adults. Lexapro® has been linked to an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder, heart defects, PPHN, cleft lip or palate, and limb defects.

In 2010, Forest Laboratories paid $300 million for illegal marketing practices involving Lexapro® and two other drugs manufactured by the company.

In 2010, Forest Laboratories paid $300 million for illegal marketing practices involving Lexapro® and two other drugs manufactured by the company. Previous litigation against the manufacturer involved claims about the increased risks of suicide. Current lawsuits involve claims about birth defects. In 2012, three mothers filed lawsuits in St. Louis against the company for birth defects suffered after they took the drug during pregnancy, and the litigation is still pending.

Celexa®

Celexa® is another SSRI antidepressant manufactured by Forest Laboratories and is used to treat mood disorders in adults. The drug was approved by the FDA in the 1990s. Like Lexapro®, Celexa® has been linked to birth defects including PPHN, heart defects, autism spectrum disorder, anencephaly, and limb defects. Additionally, the drug has been linked with an increased risk of suicide.

In 2010, Forest Laboratories paid out the $300 million settlement for illegally marketing the drug for children when it was only approved for use in adults. In 2006, 57 suicide lawsuits were transferred to the Eastern District of Missouri for MDL. Thus far, 32 of those cases have been settled. In 2013, it was decided enough progress had been made to send the remaining cases back to their originating courts.

Contact an Experienced Defective Drug Attorney

If you were prescribed an SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy and your child was born with a birth defect, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an experienced attorney in your area today to schedule a complimentary case evaluation and to discuss your legal options.

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