Zoloft class action lawsuit claims drug is ineffective

A Zoloft class action lawsuit claims that the antidepressant drug is ineffective; patients who took Zoloft were defrauded. The suit, filed last month in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division, alleges that the popular SSRI antidepressant drug is no more effective to treat depression than a placebo or sugar pill.

Plaintiff Laura A. Plumlee says that she took Zoloft for three years without experiencing any noteworthy changes in her condition. She filed the lawsuit on behalf of consumers in California and across the U.S. accusing Zoloft drug maker Pfizer of deceptively marketing the drug as a “highly effective treatment for depression,” despite studies that showed no significant difference between the effectiveness of Zoloft and a placebo. “It’s about Pfizer deliberately withholding this information from consumers and then advertising this drug as very effective,” her attorney said to the AP.

Lawyers for Ms. Plumlee argue that Zoloft never should have been granted FDA approval because of Pfizer’s concealment of the clinical studies finding Zoloft to be no better than a dummy pill in treating depression. The suit accuses the drug company of fraud and alleges that Pfizer quietly paid off prominent doctors to promote the drug. The lawsuit claims that patients who took Zoloft were defrauded. It asks the judge to order Pfizer to correct “misleading” information in Zoloft’s package insert and refund the billions of dollars spent on the drug. It asks the judge to approve two class action cases; one for California residents who took Zoloft and one for all U.S. Zoloft users.

In response, Pfizer defends the effectiveness of Zoloft in a statement reported by the AP:

“Pfizer believes the lawsuit filed in California is groundless and is based largely on information … that has been widely criticized by many experts in the mental health field,” the company said in a statement provided to The AP. It said the FDA approved Zoloft in 1991 after reviewing “efficacy and safety data from more than 20 clinical studies involving more than 5,000 patients.”

Also, in a statement to the AP, Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, the president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), defends antidepressants, but not Zoloft specifically:

“As a class, antidepressant medications are highly effective. They alleviate substantial amounts, if not complete symptoms, in 50 to as high as 80 percent of patients treated who suffer from major depression.”

Pfizer, who describes the lawsuit as frivolous, recently settled other claims of unlawful marketing practices. In December 2012, Pfizer agreed to settle claims brought by a group of state attorneys general that it illegally promoted its drugs Zyvox and Lyrica, according to the office of Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, the AP reports.

Zoloft lawsuits continue to be filed across the U.S. on behalf of children who suffered birth defects after their mother used Zoloft during pregnancy.

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