San Diego, CA (PRWEB) April 03, 2013
Resource4thePeople announced today that its attorneys are now investigating 2013 claims from consumers who are alleging their children may have suffered birth defects caused by the mother's use of Zoloft or other anti-depressants classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
“This announcement comes as consolidated federal lawsuits* in what may become a large class-action case are moving forward toward setting bellwether trials,” said Resource4thePeople.
"We have been receiving increasing numbers of inquiries from consumers inquiring about what their legal rights may be in this litigation over allegations involving the use of SSRIs and therefore our attorneys are now offering free consultations to these consumers."
The multi-district litigation is being coordinated under the jurisdiction of a federal judge in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where the judge recently issued an order setting September 2014 for these bellwether trials to begin.*
In multidistrict litigations, bellwether trials are tried to allow plaintiffs and defense attorneys to test the strengths and weaknesses of their cases before a judge makes a decision over whether to grant class-action status to the lawsuits.
Over 250 cases are involved in this litigation and each of the plaintiffs are seeking at least $75,000 in damages, according to the court files. The manufacturers of Zoloft have denied the allegations.
Resource4thePeople also is informing families who may have allegations similar to those in the multidistrict litigation – that the use of Zoloft by a mother can cause birth defects in a newborn – that even though bellwether cases are being selected these families may still have legal options to join in the litigation.
These consultations can provide legal options about whether such families may be eligible to seek compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering and other expenses that may stem from these circumstances.
SSRI anti-depressants are the newest class of anti-depressants and are sold under various brand and generic drug names such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro and Depakote. The National Institute of Mental Health describes these medications as the most popular type of anti-depressants.**
The common allegations in the Zoloft multidistrict litigation* are that women who used Zoloft to treat depression while pregnant were put at increased risk of giving birth to an infant suffering from birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot, spina bifida and heart and abdominal defects, according to the claims in the court files.
Also claimed in these court filings are allegations that some infants may have been born suffering from the life-threatening condition known as pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN).
This condition, according to the Food and Drug Administration, occurs when a newborn baby does not adapt to breathing outside the womb.**
The FDA says that newborns with PPHN may require intensive care support including a mechanical ventilator to increase their oxygen level. If severe, PPHN can result in multiple organ damage, including brain damage, and even death.
Resource4thePeople notes that the FDA has given mixed signals about the link between PPHN and SSRI use. In 2006 the agency issued a warning about the dangers of SSRI use and PPHN. Now the FDA says it is unsure.***
Here is the most recent statement by the FDA, released on Dec. 14, 2011:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is updating the public on the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants by women during pregnancy and the potential risk of a rare heart and lung condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The initial Public Health Advisory in July 2006 on this potential risk was based on a single published study. Since then, there have been conflicting findings from new studies evaluating this potential risk, making it unclear whether use of SSRIs during pregnancy can cause PPHN.”
Resource4thePeople also notes that this issue of the safety of SSRIs is the focus of the ongoing multidistrict litigation and that the ultimate resolution of these claims will be by settlement, jury verdict or judicial ruling within the confines of our court system and that future postings will be provided to inform the public of these outcomes.
Resource4thePeople also is bringing to the attention of SSRI users new medical research data that raises concerns about whether the anti-depressants may also put patients at increased risk of suffering heart arrhythmia.
These concerns are raised in published reports of a medical research study in the Jan. 29, 2013 British Medical Journal.
According to the study, the SSRIs citalopram (brand name Celexa) and escitalopram (brand name Lexapro) “trigger a disturbance in QT interval (the duration of electrical activity of the heart muscle) heart rhythms.”
The medical research report's lead study author Dr. Roy Perlis and his colleagues “confirmed through analysis a slight but significant QT prolongation with higher doses of citalopram,” saying that “although some QT variation is normal, a longer interval can upset timing of the heartbeat and lead to dizziness, fainting, and depending on severity, sudden death.”
The researchers also reported that citalopram, escitalopram, and amitriptyline were associated with prolongation of corrected QT interval, which is a marker of increased ventricular arrhythmia risk.
The report emphasized that other antidepressants, including some other SSRIs, were not identified as causing significantly associated with prolonged corrected QT intervals.
"The question of whether patients for whom antidepressants will be prescribed should routinely have electrocardiograms before and/or after treatment starts cannot be addressed directly by this study," the authors wrote in the report. "However, in terms of treatment selection, our results do suggest some variation within treatment class in terms of risk."
*In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation - MDL 2342, United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania