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Antidepressants and Birth Defects Lawsuit - d'Oliveira & Associates

Antidepressants can increase the risk of serious side effects like birth defects and suicidal behavior. Our law firm is working with some of the more experienced antidepressant lawyers in the country, who can file an antidepressant lawsuit on your behalf. Also, there are no legal fees until you receive a settlement or award. Contact us for a free consultation online or call us at 1-800-992-6878.



Antidepressants treat a range of conditions including anxiety disorders, depression, mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other conditions. In the 1950s, the first antidepressants hit the market. Most of these were tricyclic antidepressants. However, these drugs have been largely replaced by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These more modern drugs broke into the market in 1987 when Prozac was approved by the FDA. Prozac was quickly followed by Zoloft in 1991 and Paxil in 1992. Many other antidepressants have also been approved and sold on the market. In recent years, antidepressants have grown into a multi-billion dollar industry with an estimated 1 in 10 people taking these drugs (i).

SSRI Antidepressants

SSRIs are a class of antidepressants that were specifically designed to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Increasing levels of this neurotransmitter improves the brain’s ability to send and receive signals, which in turns boosts the patient’s sense of well-being. The following drugs are all SSRIs:

  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)

SNRI Antidepressants

The SNRI class of antidepressants was designed to increase both serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. Much like SSRI drugs, SNRIs increase the levels of these two neurotransmitters in order to improve the patient’s sense of contentment. The following drugs are SNRIs:

  • Effexor (venlafaxine)
  • Pristiq (desvenlafaxine)

Antidepressant Side Effects

Antidepressants, like all drugs, have the potential to cause side effects. Some of the most common side effects that antidepressant patients report include weight changes, nausea, vision problems, and sexual dysfunction. Antidepressants have also caused serious side effects that have given rise to hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits. These serious side effects include serotonin syndrome, kidney or liver damage, birth defects, and suicidal behavior. If you have been injured due to taking an antidepressant, you may be entitled to receive money to compensate your injuries.

Antidepressant Birth Defects

When a mother takes antidepressants while pregnant she may unknowingly expose the fetus to the active ingredients of that antidepressant. This exposure may increase the risk of the child being born with birth defects. Medical studies have revealed that both SSRIs and SNRIs may increase the risk of birth defects. In July 2006, the FDA issued a Public Health Advisory warning that SSRI drugs could increase the risk of persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN). The FDA based this warning on a medical study which found that “PPHN was six times more common in babies whose mothers took an SSRI antidepressant after the 20th week of the pregnancy.” PPHN causes high blood pressure in the lungs and makes breathing difficult for newborns. In severe cases it can lead to more life-threatening outcomes like brain damage or even death (ii). In June 2007, another study found that SSRIs may increase the risk of other birth defects, specifically, anencephaly (skull development), craniosynostosis (skull development), and omphalocele (growth of organs outside of the abdominal wall/body) (iii).

SNRIs have often been compared to SSRIs because both increase serotonin levels in the brain. The FDA has not yet released a birth defect warning specific to SNRI antidepressants, but there are a number of medical studies that suggest SNRIs increase the risk of birth defects. In December 2012, the medical journal, Birth Defects Research Part A, published a study concerning SNRIs and a range of birth defects. The study found “[s]tatistically significant associations” between SNRI drugs and atrial septal defect (heart defect), coarctation of the aorta (heart defect), cleft palate, and gastroschisis (hernia) (iv). If you are a mother who took antidepressants while pregnant and gave birth to a child with any of the following birth defects, you should talk to a personal injury lawyer:

  • Abdominal birth defects
  • Blindness
  • Cleft lip or palate
  • Clubfoot
  • Down’s syndrome
  • Hernia
  • Hypoplastic Left/Right Heart Syndrome
  • Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN)
  • Septal heart defects (atrial or ventricular)
  • Spina bifida
  • Or any other birth defects

Antidepressant Suicide Risk

The frequency of suicidal behavior and even completed suicide among antidepressant patients has caused the FDA to issue several warnings over the years. In October 2004, the FDA warned that antidepressant drugs could increase the risk of suicidal behavior in children and teenagers. This FDA warning was based on 24 studies involving more than 4,400 patients (v). Later in May 2007, the FDA expanded the scope of this warning to include young adults up to the age of 24. This expansion was based on 295 studies of more than 77,000 patients. These studies revealed that young adults taking antidepressants were two times more likely to attempt suicide than those taking a placebo pill (vi).

Antidepressant Lawsuits

Many antidepressant manufacturers have faced or are currently facing lawsuits from patients who have suffered because of birth defects or suicidal behavior. In 2000, Eli Lilly and Company settled 30 Prozac suicide lawsuits for approximately $50 million (vii). One of the largest antidepressant settlements was in 2010 when GlaxoSmithKline settled 800 Paxil birth defect lawsuits for almost $1.2 billion (viii). More recently, other companies have reported a growing number of lawsuits. In Forest Laboratories’ 2012 Annual Report, the company reported that it was currently facing 14 suicide lawsuits and 79 birth defects because of its drugs, Celexa and Lexapro (ix). Finally, in April 2012, more than 250 Zoloft birth defect lawsuits were consolidated in a process known as multidistrict litigation (x).

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured After Taking Antidepressants?

If you or a loved one has suffered birth defects, suicidal behavior, or other serious injuries after taking an antidepressant, you may have an antidepressant lawsuit. You should talk to an antidepressant lawyer about your injuries and discuss your legal options. Our law firm is currently working with some of the more experienced attorneys in the country who handle these types of cases and charge no legal fees until you receive a settlement or award.

Call our law firm toll-free at 1-800-992-6878 or fill out a contact form for a free legal consultation.

 
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