Antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft have long been associated
with birth defects. However, drug companies have been reluctant to warn
pregnant mothers about these dangers, as any type of warning of increased
risk of injury affects sales.
A recently filed lawsuit against Forest Laboratories and its popular antidepressant drug,
Lexapro, alleges that a pregnant mom was prescribed Lexapro and gave birth to
a daughter who suffered severe congenital heart defects, had to undergo
four open heart surgeries and died two weeks later.
Drug Companies Failed To Research & Warn
Law360, Chandra Shuckwas prescribed Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
(SSRI), to treat her depression. She took the drug during pregnancy, and
her daughter was born with multiple congenital heart defects, had to undergo
repeated open heart surgeries and died two weeks later.
Shuck filed a lawsuit against Forest Laboratories and Lundbeck A/S, the
Danish company that invented the drug and licensed Forest to market it
in the United States. Her complaint alleges that the pharmaceutical companies
violated the New Jersey Product Liability Act, Wrongful Death Act and
Survivors Act and ignored studies that showed that SSRI drugs increased
the likelihood of cardiac birth defects when taken by mothers during pregnancy.
She also alleges that Lexapro should not have been marketed as being safe
for pregnant women. Although the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
never approved Lexapro for use in pregnant women, pharmaceutical companies
encouraged their sales force to market Lexapro to women of child-bearing
years as a "safe alternative" to other SSRI drugs.
Shuck claims that if the drug makers had provided proper warnings of what
was common knowledge in the drug industry at the time, it would likely
have prevented her doctor from prescribing the drug to her during her
pregnancy and her daughter would be alive today.
Drug Companies Routinely Put Profits over Safety
That's a common accusation in many defective drug lawsuits - including
Shuck's. SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro are
the most widely prescribed drugs for depression, and billions of women
have taken them while pregnant.
However, numerous studies over the past decade have shown that taking SSRIs
during pregnancy can be very dangerous. Newborns who survive childbirth
have an increased risk of suffering:
Cardiac birth defects. These include coarction of the aorta (a narrowing of part of the aorta
— the major artery leading out of the heart), hypoplastic heart
syndrome (when parts of the heart do not completely develop) and other
septal defects involving abnormalities of the heart's wall.
Cleft lip. This condition is a facial defect that can be partial or complete and
result in issues with speech and language.
Cleft palate. This condition occurs when separate parts of the skull and roof of the
mouth do not completely join, resulting in a cleft palate that can cause
serious issues with breathing, feeding, speaking and hearing.
Club foot. This condition occurs due to abnormalities in an infant's leg and
foot bones, joints, muscles and blood vessels and results in one or both
feet turned inward and downward,causing mobility issues.
Craniosynostosis. This condition occurs when sutures in an infant's skull harden prematurely,
resulting in a deformed skull, intracranial pressure and stunted head
growth as the child ages.
PPHN: PPHN, or Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn, can be fatal
and occurs when blood flow to the lungs is constricted and limits the
amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. Infants with this condition who survive
childbirth may require a heart transplant.
Any family whose child has suffered a birth defect as the result of a mother
being prescribed Lexapro or another SSRI drug may be entitled to compensation
to pay for the likely significant medical bills and lost income they've
experienced - and will continue to experience in the future. An experienced
personal injury attorney who handles cases involving defective drugs can help you get the compensation
you deserve so that your child can get the care he or she needs.