SSRI Drug Lawsuit
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. They reportedly work by changing the levels of a chemical found in the brain called serotonin, which affects a person’s mood, outlook, and behavior. Over the past 25 years, SSRIs such as Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) have been prescribed to treat major depressive disorder in adults, as well as other disorders, including panic, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. However, many of these drugs have been linked to a multitude of unwanted side-effects—especially when taken during pregnancy.
A 2009 Danish study analyzing nearly half a million children found that if an expectant mother took Zoloft while pregnant, her child’s risk of developing a septal heart defect tripled. The study also found that children born to mothers who took more than one type of SSRI—including two or more of Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, or Prozac—had a four-fold increased risk of developing these types of heart defects.
In 2011, a study published in the medical journal Obstetrics & Gynecology analyzed data from Finland, finding that babies were four times as likely to develop certain heart defects when exposed to another popularly-prescribed SSRI, Paxil, during gestation. Further, a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the risk of certain heart defects was 2.4 times greater for babies exposed to Paxil in the first trimester of pregnancy compared with those who were not exposed.
SSRI Settlements and Verdicts
In 2005, thirteen years after GlaxoSmithKline introduced the SSRI Paxil to the drug market, the FDA issued an advisory that Paxil may increase the risk of birth defects—particularly heart defects—when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. Expectant mothers who were prescribed Paxil during their pregnancies were not aware that the drug could cause harm to their growing children, spurring lawsuits filed around the country claiming that GlaxoSmithKline negligently failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks associated with taking Paxil during pregnancy.
The first Paxil lawsuit was tried in 2009, brought by two parents whose son was born with holes in his heart after his mother took Paxil during her pregnancy. She was unaware of the drug’s risky, harrowing side effects when it was prescribed to her. During the trial, evidence was presented that, as early as 1980, GlaxoSmithKline had performed and hidden scientific studies on animals that linked Paxil to birth defects, and failed to warn doctors or patients of the drug’s risks. The case resulted in a $2.5 million jury verdict.
By July, 2010, GlaxoSmithKline reportedly paid over $1 billion to settle at least 800 claims related to Paxil and its propensity to cause birth defects. Later, in 2012, the drugmaker pled guilty to the United States Department of Justice’s charges of fraud, resulting in $3 billion in civil and criminal fines for alleged unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, including Paxil.
Likewise, lawsuits against Pfizer alleging negligence, the manufacturer of Zoloft, have been filed, citing Pfizer’s failure to alert patients that the drug may significantly increase the risk of heart malformations and other birth defects. Plaintiffs claim that despite Pfizer’s knowledge of Zoloft’s birth defect risks, the company continues to sell and market Zoloft to doctors and patients without adequately warning them of the reported risks.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you or a loved one took Paxil or Zoloft while pregnant and your child was born with a heart defect, you may be legally entitled to financial compensation.
Want to Know if You have a Valid Legal Claim?
Call 888-973-6361 to speak with an experienced attorney about your potential legal claim regarding Paxil or Zoloft and your baby’s birth defects.