SSRI Birth Defect Lawsuit Allegations Now Being Accepted by Resource4thePeople

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Free consultations offered to families of children allegedly suffering birth defects after use of antidepressants to inform them of legal options they may have to seek compensation.

Resource4thePeople announced today that its national network of attorneys is now reviewing lawsuits on behalf of consumers who are alleging that their children may have suffered birth defects as a result of the use of a popular class of antidepressants.

The medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the Food and Drug Administration has long been aware of links between the medications and birth defects, as reflected in a July 19, 2006 Public Health Advisory* that was updated in 2011.

Since then, SSRI anti-depressants -- the newest class of anti-depressants sold under various brand and generic drug names such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro, Celexa and Depakote -- are described by The National Institute of Mental Health as the most popular antidepressants prescribed in the United States.**

However, as the FDA warned in its 2011 update*** the agency cannot say for sure whether the use of SSRIs during a pregnancy puts a mother at greater risk of giving birth to a child suffering the life-threatening medical condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

"The uncertainty over the safety of SSRIs has generated a great number of consumer inquiries over whether they may be entitled to take legal action over allegations that SSRIs caused PPHN or other birth defects in their children," said Resource4thePeople.

"Our national network of attorneys is now reviewing these cases and is offering free consultations to these families to provide them with informed reviews of what legal options may be available to them."

One of the medications -- Zoloft -- is the subject of numerous lawsuits claiming that children born to mothers who took the SSRI during pregnancies suffered alleged birth defects that they have been consolidated before a single federal court judge.****

The multi-district litigation is being coordinated under the jurisdiction of U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The multidistrict litigation – which involves consolidation of hundreds of cases from across the country, according to the court file – was designated to improve judicial efficiency and avoid duplications because the cases involve similar allegations against common defendants.

The judge has scheduled bellwether trials in the litigation to begin in October of 2014, according to the court file.

“Judge Rufe scheduled these trials to enable attorneys for the plaintiffs and the defendants to test the strength and weaknesses of their cases before juries,” said Resource4thePeople.

“This is an important step forward in the process of this litigation in which consumers are claiming links between the use of Zoloft and other SSRIs during pregnancies and birth defects in their infants.”

Resource4thePeople also notes that that the court file in the litigation shows that there are now over 300 cases consolidated by the federal court system in the litigation.

Resource4thePeople also is announcing that as this litigation moves forward its nationwide team of attorneys is continuing to review claims from consumers who are alleging their children may have suffered birth defects caused by the mother's use of Zoloft or other SSRIs.

"A common question we have been receiving from consumers involves the question of how their legal rights may be affected by the progress of this litigation,” said Resource4thePeople.

“Every case is different but we are continuing to offer free consultations to consumers to help provide them the information they need to preserve all of their legal options over allegations involving the use of SSRIs.”

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.

Among the claims being reviewed by Resource4thePeople attorneys are that women who used Zoloft to treat depression while pregnant were allegedly put at increased risk of giving birth to an infant suffering from alleged birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot, spina bifida and heart and abdominal defects.

Resource4thePeople also is bringing to the attention of SSRI patients 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 significlantly associated with prolonged corrected QT intervals.

****In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation - MDL 2342, United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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