The reportedly first U.S. Zoloft birth defects lawsuit progressed to a jury trial in a Missouri state court earlier this month. Zoloft lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts across the country. As of April 15, there were 548 such lawsuits centralized for pretrial management before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
These actions, according to the federal panel that centralized the federal cases, "involve allegations that Zoloft, a prescription medication approved for the treatment of depression and other ailments, causes birth defects in children when their mothers ingest the drug while pregnant." Central to these lawsuits is the allegation that Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, failed to warn patients of the unreasonable risk of birth defects about which Pfizer either knew or should have known.
In the Missouri trial, the lawsuit of which was filed in 2012, a mother and her son, the latter of whom is now 11, claimed that the mother's prenatal use of the antidepressant caused her son to be born with numerous heart defects.
Meanwhile, the Zoloft attorneys at Reich & Binstock represent similar Zoloft victims and continue to give free case evaluations to those who believe they may be entitled to compensation.
There is science backing up the claims of the plaintiffs. The research refers to Zoloft as "sertraline," which is the antidepressant's generic name. Some of the research contains unflattering reports about Zoloft and about other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, as a whole.
For instance, the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reported Jan. 28 the results of a Canadian study. Researchers studied a cohort of more than 18,000 pregnancies and concluded, "Sertraline use during the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of atrial/ventricular defects and craniosynostosis above and beyond the effect of maternal depression. Nonsertraline SSRIs were associated with an increased risk of craniosynostosis and musculoskeletal defects."
Additionally, the November 2014 edition of the journal Epidemiology summarized a Boston University study in which researchers concluded, "Our data suggest an increased risk of clubfoot occurrence in relation to SSRI use."
If those studies are not enough, epidemiologists at Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark looked into the association between SSRI use during pregnancy and the emergence of birth defects. They wrote for the August 2010 edition of the journal Epidemiology that "our findings suggest an association between maternal SSRI use in early pregnancy and cardiac malformations which could be causal." They also learned, "For specific SSRIs, we found an increased risk for septal defects associated with sertraline."
Could the manufacturer have missed that?
That's not even the end of the empirical chain that links SSRIs in general and Zoloft in particular to birth defects seemingly related to the mother's use of the drug during pregnancy.
The medical journal BMJ issued the findings of a Denmark study in September 2009. The bottom line, according to the authors of the study, was as follows: "There is an increased prevalence of septal heart defects among children whose mothers were prescribed an SSRI in early pregnancy, particularly sertraline and citalopram (Celexa)."
Although one Zoloft lawsuit has gone to trial as of this date, with another expected to reach trial in Pennsylvania in May, there is still time for Zoloft victims to get a free consultation from one of the experienced product liability attorneys at Reich & Binstock and to determine the legal options.
A woman who used Zoloft during pregnancy and who had a child with birth defects should contact Reich & Binstock either by calling the toll-free number, 1-866-LAW-2400, or by submitting an electronic message through this web page.