Zoloft Birth Defects Lawsuit
Though there has been extensive media coverage of the link between the use of Zoloft and adolescent suicide, more attention is now being paid to the risk of birth defects associated with the SSRI antidepressant medication. When used to treat depression during pregnancy, especially during the first three months, Zoloft can breach the placental barrier and adversely affect fetal development.
Birth defects linked to Zoloft include persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), congenital cardiac and circulatory defects, spina bifida, cleft palate, and limb deformations such as club foot. Parents of children with severe congenital defects face significant emotional and financial hardship, and many have sought recovery from Pfizer through Zoloft lawsuits.
Zoloft lawsuits allege side effects in newborns
Though pre-clinical animal studies of Zoloft conducted prior to its approval in 1991 demonstrated fetal harm when Zoloft was administered during pregnancy, it was not until later that solid clinical evidence established a link between the drug and birth defects.
Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996 and 2007 confirmed the link. One study found that the risk of cardiac deformations in infants exposed to Zoloft in the womb was 50 percent higher than unexposed infants. This study and subsequent research has served as key evidence in a growing number of filings.
Birth defects lawsuit plaintiffs increase
Today, hundreds of Zoloft lawsuits are pending in U.S. courts. On January 18, 2012, Pfizer requested the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to establish a consolidated MDL (multidistrict litigation) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Over 50 Zoloft lawsuits in six states were identified by Pfizer as candidates for consolidation. At the same time, Pfizer is actively seeking to remove several pending Zoloft lawsuits from state to federal court. Pfizer has challenged state court jurisdiction for multiple cases in Pennsylvania alone.
Zoloft lawsuit filings expected to increase
Whether or not the federal panel approves Pfizer’s request for an MDL, court watchers anticipate the number of Zoloft birth defects lawsuit filings will continue to grow.
In February of 2012, for example, a group of mothers whose children are suffering from alleged Zoloft side effects filed a class action lawsuit in a Missouri state court. Shainyah Lancaster and the other mothers filed lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court, alleging that Pfizer failed to warn pregnant women of the risk of using the medication.
Like all Zoloft plaintiffs, the mothers are seeking compensation to offset the harm that the drug has caused them and their children.