Louisiana Family Blames Zoloft for Child’s Birth Defects

A family in Louisiana has filed suit against Pfizer Inc. claiming the company’s antidepressant, Zoloft, was responsible for their child’s birth defects. In their Zoloft lawsuit, Terry and Nelda Rolling accuse Pfizer of failing to adequately warn of the drug’s risks, and of concealing, suppressing, and failing to disclose dangers.

According to the Rollings, Nelda took Zoloft during her pregnancy, and her child was later born with a congenital birth defect. Their complaint alleges that as early as 1996, Pfizer had information suggesting Zoloft could increase the risk of problems for children when taken during pregnancy, yet the drug maker failed to provide adequate warnings to consumers or the medical community. Evidence that Zoloft could harm a developing fetus continued to mount between 2002 and 2006. By 2007, due to the publication of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, Pfizer knew or should have known that Zoloft and other SSRIs doubled the risk of septal heart defects when taken during pregnancy, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit charges Pfizer with violations of the Louisiana Products Liability Act and for allegedly violating the warranty of redhibition. The family is seeking damages for medical expenses, mental anguish, emotional distress, loss of consortium, companionship, service and society, interest and court costs.

The Rollings are one of a growing number of plaintiffs who have filed suit alleging Zoloft caused birth defects. Zoloft is approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to treat major depression (MDD), social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, premenstrual dysphonic disorder (PMDD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in adults and OCD in 6 to 17 year olds.

Zoloft and similar drugs, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) antidepressants, operate by raising levels of serotonin, which plays a role in the development of the fetus. A number of studies have linked SSRI antidepressants, including Zoloft, to birth defects. In July 2006, the FDA warned that women who use the antidepressant Zoloft after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times more likely to give birth to a child with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The FDA issued this warning about Zoloft based on the results of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine that examined the risk of birth defects with Zoloft and similar antidepressants.

Since then, more evidence has accumulated linking Zoloft to birth defects, including a study published last month by researchers in Sweden linking SSRI antidepressants to PPHN, and another published over the summer that linked Zoloft and other SSRIs to an increased risk of autism,

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