Pfizer, the nation’s largest pharmaceutical company, has had nineteen defective drug product liability cases brought against it over the past several weeks. The suits have been filed in West Virginia state court over their antidepressant Zoloft. The lawsuits claim that the drug caused birth defects in children whose mothers were either prescribed the drug while pregnant or got pregnant while on the drug. Lawsuits over Zoloft are nothing new to Pfizer, as there have been 137 similar lawsuits filed over the antidepressant.
“While the specific birth defects alleged vary somewhat among the plaintiffs, all actions will share discovery relating to the general medical causation; factual discovery will overlap concerning Pfizer’s research, testing, and warnings."
According to the plaintiffs, the children suffered severe defects such as atrial septal defects, multiple holes in the heart, persistent pulmonary hypertension, and craniofacial defects. The plaintiffs claim these defects were a direct result of taking Zoloft during pregnancy. The suit is alleging that Zoloft is defective, dangerous to human health, unsuitable to be sold, and lacks warning about certain dangers associated with its use. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, taking Zoloft during pregnancy significantly increased the risk of delivering a child with a heart defect. The study found that women taking Zoloft during the first few months of pregnancy are twice as likely to bear a child with a heart abnormality when compared to those taking other antidepressants. In addition, the FDA announced in July 2006 that women taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as Zoloft, after the 20th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to deliver children with pulmonary hypertension.
As the lawsuits have continued to mount, the U.S Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has recently required that all of the lawsuits be consolidated into the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The JPML believe that the victim’s cases are similar enough to put all in one court. “While the specific birth defects alleged vary somewhat among the plaintiffs, all actions will share discovery relating to the general medical causation; factual discovery will overlap concerning Pfizer’s research, testing, and warnings,” stated the JPML in their ruling.
If you delivered a child with birth defects while taking Zoloft, you may be able to participate in a lawsuit to recover damages. Having a child with a birth defect can result in costly surgeries and extra medical care. You may be able to recover damages for any medical bills and pain and suffering caused by taking Zoloft while pregnant. To see if you may be entitled to compensation, fill out our free case evaluation form on the right.