The first Zoloft birth defects trial started today in state court in St. Louis, Missouri. The case is one of more than 1,000 Zoloft lawsuits filed across the country in both state and federal courts against Pfizer, Inc., manufacturer and seller the popular SSRI antidepressant.
The Plaintiff in the case at trial is a boy who at birth suffered Zoloft heart defects for which he has undergone three open heart surgeries. Now at age eleven, he continues to suffer functional impairment and residual disability. Lawyers representing his family claim that Pfizer hid Zoloft birth defects risks so it could market Zoloft as a better alternative for pregnant women suffering from depression. They assert that Pfizer should be held liable for “failing to clearly warn doctors and patients that Zoloft posed an increased risk of birth defects.”
The family’s lawyer claims that Pfizer failed to warn women, including the boy’s mother, of the potential birth defects risks to unborn children that the drug could cause when taken during pregnancy. This failure to warn occurred despite a contraceptive warning included by researchers in Zoloft’s “Core Data Sheet,” an internal file. Pfizer officials admitted that the birth defects warning, “is not in the U.S. label.”
The Zoloft lawsuits are similar to previous suits against GlaxoSmithKline, PC, claiming that its claims that it’s blockbuster SSRI antidepressant drug Paxil caused birth defects. Glaxo agreed to pay settlements in excess $1 billion to compensate injured plaintiffs. Several researchers opine that this class of antidepressants, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, pose a greater risk of heart defects in newborns than non-SSRI antidepressants.