Dangerous Drugs

Mothers' Lawsuits Allege Effexor Caused Birth Defects

This Alert Affects:

Women who delivered children with birth defects after taking Effexor (venlafaxine hydrochloride).

What Is Effexor?
Effexor is an antidepressant that belongs to a group of drugs known as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
What Are the Allegations?
Lawsuits allege that the maker of Effexor knew that its antidepressant would cross the placenta and pose risks to unborn babies, but failed to adequately warn the public about this risk.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
FDA Warning
In 2004, the FDA announced that Effexor's label would be updated to include warnings that the drug can cause "complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding" in newborns.
Type of Lawsuit
Mass Tort

Dozens of women have filed lawsuits against Wyeth Pharmaceuticals claiming that use of its antidepressant Effexor during pregnancy caused their children to be born with birth defects. These women are claiming that the pharmaceutical giant failed to provide adequate warnings about use of the drug during pregnancy and is therefore legally responsible for damages related to their children’s birth defects. These lawsuits are seeking compensation for medical bills, both past and future, as well as other related costs.

Did you use Effexor while pregnant? Was your child born with a birth injury? If so, you may be able to file a lawsuit. If you have questions about taking legal action, or want to find out if you could be owed compensation, contact us today for more information.  

Is This a Class Action Lawsuit?

No, the Effexor lawsuits will not continue as a class action. Each Effexor victim will have to file an individual lawsuit with an attorney. All federally-filed lawsuits alleging a link between Effexor and birth defects have been transferred to the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Pennsylvania before a single judge, Cynthia M. Rufe, in a procedure known as multidistrict litigation.

What Are the Lawsuits Saying About Effexor?

Plaintiffs in the Effexor litigation allege that the antidepressant is defective and unreasonably dangerous due to its effects on unborn children. According to the lawsuits, Wyeth knew that its antidepressant could cross the placenta, posing an increased risk of birth defects, injuries and death; however, the manufacturer allegedly failed to provide adequate warnings to doctors and patients about these risks. The lawsuits also claim that:

  • Effexor is defective in design and manufacture because it can unreasonably increase the risk of birth defects in women using the antidepressant while pregnant

  • Wyeth knew that there were safer alternative drugs available for patients, but continued to market Effexor as safe and effective

  • Wyeth knew that women using Effexor were delivering children with birth defects, yet failed to issue any warnings or recalls for the drug

  • Wyeth concealed, suppressed and failed to disclose the dangerous side effects associated with Effexor

Lawsuits are seeking reimbursement for past and future medical expenses and lost wages, as well as compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of companionship, love and affection. Some plaintiffs are also requesting punitive damages, which a judge may award to punish the defendant and discourage other companies from engaging in similar conduct.

What Birth Defects Have Been Linked to Effexor?

Effexor use during pregnancy has been linked to the following injuries in newborns:

Heart defects: Enlarged hearts, septal heart defects, valve problems, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, narrow aortas, left outflow tract heart defects, Tetralogy of Fallot, transposition of the great arteries and Patent Ductus Arteriosis. 

Developmental Defects: Club foot, cleft lip, cleft palate, genital malformation, limb defects and anal atresia.

Spinal and Skull Defects: Spina bifidia, craniosynostosis and macrocephaly (abnormally large head).

Abdominal Defects: Omphalocele and gastroschisis (organs protrude out of stomach).

While some of these birth defects can be corrected with surgery, others are permanent and will require consistent monitoring throughout the child’s lifetime.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?

Many lawyers who handle lawsuits involving defective drugs will only charge their clients if they win the case. In most cases, these lawyers will collect a percentage of the final settlement or verdict award as payment.

Have you or a loved one delivered a child with birth defects? Did you use Effexor, Effexor XR or venlafaxine hydrochloride (HCl) while pregnant? If so, an attorney may be able to assist you in filing a lawsuit. These attorneys believe that large pharmaceutical companies, such as Wyeth, should be held liable for their actions and are dedicated to recovering compensation for affected families. For more information, contact us today.

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Case Resources

Demastus et al. v. Wyeth Pharmacuticals Complaint
Case number 2:12-cv-05057, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
In re Effexor (Venlafaxine Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation Transfer Order
MDL number 2458, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania