Parents Sue Effexor Company for Daughter's Birth Defects

December 20, 2012

1111305_pills_preg.jpgRecently, The Montana Standard reported that the Montana parents of a baby born with a severe heart defect are suing a pharmaceutical company, alleging that the mother's antidepressant medication was responsible for the defect. The parents are seeking an undisclosed amount in a medical malpractice and product liability suit filed in a district court.

Our Effexor lawyers at Pintas & Mullins note that the medication guide available on the FDA website requests women who are pregnant or intending to become pregnant consult their healthcare provider before taking Effexor XR. The guide also says that it is unknown whether the drug would negatively affect an unborn baby. The lawsuit by the Montana parents, if valid, would be landmark case in Effexor litigation.

The lawsuit highlights that Wyeth, the company that manufactures Effexor, failed to warn doctors, the public and pharmacists of its possible negative outcomes.

The mother alleged that a doctor prescribed Effexor XR even though he was aware she was trying to get pregnant, and continued to recommend dosages throughout her pregnancy.

Their child was born in October 2009 with a serious heart anomaly, which required a number of surgeries. The infant is expected to undergo many more surgeries in the future.

A spokesman for one of the defendant companies in the case expressed his support for the FDA-approved drug, believing the lawsuit does not have adequate supporting evidence.

Effexor XR is an SNRI (Serotonin-Norephinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor) drug similar to SSRI antidepressants, which are documented to pose a considerable risk of serious and life-endangering birth defects in children born to mothers taking the drug.

A recent FoxNews.com article discussed a paper that came out in the British Medical Journalwhich found that taking SSRI anti-depressants such as sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) and fluoxetine (Prozac) in the course of the second half of a woman's pregnancy might more than double the possibility of them developing PPHN (Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension).

The above discovery supports a 2006 FDA warning for women that those taking SSRI had a six times' greater chance of delivering babies with PPHN.

PPHN is high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, which causes the heart's right ventricle to overwork. The right ventricle is responsible for pumping blood through the lungs to collect oxygen, and overwork can result in the weakening of the heart and ultimately heart failure.

The articles notes that most types of antidepressants are found to be associated with an increased risk of prematurity, low birth weight and low blood sugar, though the direct causal link is yet to be proven.

Some psychiatrists advise that if a woman plans to be pregnant and has only mild symptoms of depression, she should consider Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) or psychotherapy treatment. For serious symptoms, SSRIs may be used, provided they are taken under direction of a psychiatrist.

Rather than seek depression treatment from a primary care doctor or obstetrician, it is better to consult a psychiatrist if a woman is taking antidepressants and plans on having a baby.

If you or someone close to you took Effexor, Effexor XR or an SSRI while pregnant and gave birth to a baby with PPHN or any other serious birth defect injury, contact an experienced drug recall attorney to protect your legal rights.