Antidepressant Lexapro Blamed For Newborn's Death

Antidepressant Lexapro Blamed For Newborn's Death

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 16-Jan-2014

Dangerous Drugs

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

According to 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.

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