Three mothers have filed lawsuits against the makers of Lexapro, alleging they promoted Lexapro toward women of child-bearing age, including expectant mothers, despite knowing the drug’s risk for pregnant women. The plaintiffs claim that their use of Lexapro during their pregnancy caused their children to suffer birth defects, including spina bifida, club foot, and oral clefts.
Lexapro is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant, a class of drugs that a growing body of research has linked to birth defects, including congenital heart defects, lung defects, and abdominal birth defects. Antidepressants like Lexapro affect serotonin levels in the brain, causing more to be available to neurons for transmitting and processing information. In addition to its use as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication, Lexapro is also prescribed off-label as a smoking cessation aid.
According to three separate lawsuits filed this month, plaintiffs Kimberlee Fisher, Kristy Hernandez and Leah Scott all took Lexapro while they were expecting. Fisher’s daughter, Isabella, was born on Nov. 23, 2009, and diagnosed with spina bifida. Kayla Hernandez had a club foot when she was born on Aug. 6, 2010, while Damian Guidry had a bilateral cleft lip and palette at his Dec. 28, 2007 birth, the suits state.
The lawsuits, which were filed in Missouri’s St. Louis County Circuit Court, posit that the birth defects occurred because of the increased levels of serotonin that Lexapro promotes. Fisher, Hernandez and Scott all allege that they were unaware of Lexapro’s risks when they used the drug because Forest Laboratories and Forest Pharmaceutical negligently failed to fully disclose the results of tests it had conducted and failed to warn the medical community that Lexapro could cross the placental barrier.
“In flagrant and conscious disregard and indifference, Forest Defendants have denied publicly that any connection between Lexapro and birth defects exists, and have failed utterly to take any measures whatsoever to alert the public, the prescribing physicians, and the patients who take it, of the incipient dangers associated with Lexapro,” the suits state.
All of the plaintiffs claim they would never have taken Lexapro while they were pregnant had they been informed of its risks.