Zoloft, SSRI Birth Defect Allegation Lawsuits: Resource4thePeople Awaits Key Evidence Ruling

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Federal judge to rule on expert witness testimony over allegations that children suffered birth defects due to mothers’ use of Zoloft, Prozac, Celexa, Luvox, Paxil, Lexapro or Viibryd during pregnancies. National network of lawyers continues offer of no-cost consultations to consumers.


Resource4thePeople announced today that a key ruling is being awaited in litigation* alleging that birth defects have been caused by the use of Zoloft and other antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Lawyers for hundreds of families who are seeking compensation over these allegations and attorneys for the manufacturers of the medications have recently been presenting arguments to the judge overseeing the cases over which expert testimony will be allowed at trials.

"These hearings are very important because both sides want to present the most qualified experts in the field of birth defects and medications in the upcoming trials over these SSRI birth defect allegations," said Resource4thePeople.

"As we await the judge's ruling we remain committed to updating consumers about this litigation and continuing our policy of free consultations about legal options to seek compensation over these allegations.

Hundreds of such federal lawsuits from across the country have been grouped together* alleging women who used SSRIs such as Zoloft before or during their pregnancies gave birth to infants suffering serious health defects.

The cases are under the jurisdiction of District Judge Cynthia Rufe, who has scheduled the first bellwether trial from this pool of Zoloft lawsuits for Nov. 3, 2014, according to the court file.

"The first bellwether trial is several months away but there is still time for consumers who may have been affected by the allegations against Zoloft and other SSRIs to file their own claims," said Resource4thePeople.

In the meantime, Resource4thePeople has updated its web site to provide consumers with more information about allegations involving SSRIs and birth defects.

"This site includes valuable information for consumers who may have been affected by allegations that the use of an SSRI before or during pregnancies caused a birth defect in an infant," said Resource4thePeople.

"Among the most important details provided is information about how to obtain a free consultation to determine whether there is eligibility to seek compensation for medical expenses, treatment, training and other expenses involved in overcoming a birth defect."

The site also includes detailed descriptions of SSRIs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration health warnings, medical research findings, descriptions of birth defects and an outline of what is contained in an SSRI allegations lawsuit.

The information may be accessed at: http://www.resource4thepeople.com/defectivedrugs/SSRI-Birth-Defects.html

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.**

In another development, statistics*** compiled by federal court officials show that there were 475 Zoloft lawsuits under Judge Rufe's supervision in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The SSRI lawsuits assigned to Judge Rufe include allegations of at least one life-threatening birth defect. Here is a detailed list of some of the defects that have been identified in these federal lawsuits:

-- 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 septal 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.

“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 their rights to seek compensation for health issues that may have been caused by the use of these antidepressants before or during a pregnancy,” said Resource4thePeople.

Judge Rufe has selected 25 cases from the 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.

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.

Federal court figures show that there are now 52 Effexor cases before Judge Rufe.

One of the most recent warnings 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," 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."

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
******FDA, December 14, 2011; http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/PublicHealthAdvisories/ucm124348.htm

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