A Texas mother filed a Zoloft wrongful death lawsuit on July 17, 2013, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA against Pfizer, Inc. and its subsidiary Greenstone, LLC. The suit claims that her use during pregnancy of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibiter (SSRI) antidepressant sertraline, the generic form of the popular drug Zoloft, caused her newborn son to die shortly after he was born.
The El Paso woman was prescribed sertraline prior to her pregnancy, from 2010 through February 2011. She stopped taking sertraline when she found out that she was pregnant, but was put back on the drug from April 2011 until she gave birth at 25 weeks on June 27, 2011. Her newborn son was diagnosed with respiratory distress syndrome (RDS), patent ductus arteriosis (PDA) and atrial septal defect (ASD) with ventricular tachycardia. He died just five days after birth due to pulmonary hemorrhage and intraventricular hemorrhage. His mother claims that Pfizer and Greenstone failed to warn pregnant women and those women of childbearing age that they should not take sertraline/Zoloft due to pregnancy risks and complications.
The lawsuit claims that prior to releasing Zoloft and its generic sertraline to the public, drug companies Pfizer and Greenstone knew that it could cause birth defects, including heart defects, and death. Further, the suit alleges, “In fact, through a variety of methods, Pfizer and Greenstone actually encouraged doctors to prescribe Zoloft to women of child bearing age, women who were trying to conceive and to pregnant women.” The case claims that, “Pfizer also directly marketed Zoloft to these women.”
The wrongful death lawsuit claims damages for breach of warranty, negligence, strict liability, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligence per se and unjust enrichment. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.
According to a response made to the Pennsylvania Record, Pfizer spokesperson Steve Danehy stated, “medical science does not support plaintiffs’ claims about Zoloft and sertraline.” He further indicated that, “as recently as December 2011, the FDA issued further guidance regarding the SSRI class of anti-depressants that included Zoloft, advising health care professionals not to alter their current clinical practice of treating depression during pregnancy.” He said, “the company stands by our medicine and we intend to vigorously defend it.”
This case is one of a growing number of Zoloft wrongful death lawsuits filed across the U.S. by parents of children who died as the result of birth defects caused by Zoloft use during pregnancy.