San Diego, CA (PRWEB) December 22, 2013
Resource4thePeople announced today that its national network of attorneys will be available over the upcoming holiday season to consumers inquiring about legal options in connection with lawsuits* alleging that birth defects have been caused by the use of Zoloft and other antidepressants known as SSRIs.
“We are proud to announce that our policy of providing free consultations to consumers inquiring about these allegations and their legal options to seek compensation will not be interrupted by the holiday season,” said Resource4thePeople.
"In response to numerous inquiries from consumers who have asked about whether our attorneys will be available over the holidays we are announcing that our 24-hour hotline will be staffed for those who may be seeking legal options about their eligibility to seek compensation over these allegations."
Hundreds of lawsuits* in which families are alleging that the use of Zoloft and other anti-depressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) caused birth defects in their infants have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation.
These federal cases from across the country have been grouped together because they have common allegations and are now being overseen by a single federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Here is a detailed list of some of the defects that have been identified in the federal lawsuits now consolidated before Judge Cynthia Rufe:
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, also identified as PPHN. This is perhaps the most serious of the defects because it affects the lungs and heart and has about a 10 percent fatality rate.
- Clubfoot, or deformed feet. This is a condition in which an infant’s feet twist inward or face downward.
- Atrial septal or ventrical septral defects in which infants are born with holes in their hearts.
- Craniosynostosis, which is a cranial deformity in the fetus which can cause serious problems, including seizures after birth.
- Omphalocele, which is a condition in which an infant’s internal organs may form outside of the body.
- Other birth defects, including Tetralogy of Fallot, spina bifida, transposition of the arteries and heart murmurs.
“These are the most common birth defects identified in these allegations but there are many other that have been alleged to have been caused by the use of Zoloft and other antidepressants in these lawsuits,” said Resource4thePeople.
SSRI anti-depressants are sold under various brand and generic drug names such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa and Depakote and are described by The National Institute of Mental Health as the most popular antidepressants prescribed in the United States.**
"The latest figures provided by federal court officials show that the number of lawsuits alleging that Zoloft and other SSRIs are linked to birth defects in cases in which mothers used the medications before or during pregnancy continues to increase," said Resource4thePeople.
“If any family has a child who suffers from any of these conditions we urge them to contact our national network of attorneys as soon as possible for a consultation about the merits of their case and their rights to seek compensation for health issues that may have been caused by the use of these antidepressants before or during a pregnancy.”
Judge Rufe has selected 25 cases from these consolidated lawsuits to serve as bellwether trials in which lawyers for the plaintiffs and those for the defense can test the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, according to the court file.
The first such bellwether trial*** is scheduled for October of 2014 and the attorneys are now in the process of pre-trial evidence gathering and other legal actions.
"We expect the number of cases filed in connection with these allegations to continue to increase but are alerting consumers that may be legal time limits involved so it is best to contact us as soon as possible to preserve all legal options," said Resource4thePeople.
Judge Rufe is also overseeing a parallel multidistrict litigation**** involving claims that another antidepressant known as an SNRI, Effexor, also may cause birth defects in infants born to women who took the medication shortly before or during pregnancies.
The latest figures**** as of Nov. 18, 20013 show that there are now 46 Effexor cases before Judge Rufe.
The latest warning questioning the effectiveness and addressing side effects involving SSRIs was published Aug. 19, 2013 in The New York Times***** in an article by a physician who laments the lack of progress in developing effective, safe antidepressants.
"This is just the latest of the concerns raised about the effectiveness and safety of SSRIs, which are a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors," said Resource4thePeople.
"As the physician points out, whether or not these medications such as Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac and Lexapro are providing safe, effective treatment for depression is open to debate."
Resource4thePeople also notes the publication of new medical research data that raises concerns about whether the SSRI anti-depressants may also put patients at increased risk of suffering heart arrhythmia.
These concerns are detailed in published reports of a medical research study in the Jan. 29, 2013 British Medical Journal.******
Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn is among several birth defect issues linked to SSRIs raised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in a 2006 Public Health Advisory.*******
*In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation - MDL 2342, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
**NIMH, 2008; http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/mental-health-medications/index.shtml
**** MDL - 2458 IN RE: Effexor (Venlafaxine Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation
******BMJ, January 29, 2013; http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.f288
*******FDA, December 14, 2011; http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/PublicHealthAdvisories/ucm124348.htm