Zoloft, or sertraline hydrocholoride, is an antidepressant used to treat major depression in adult patients, as well as obsessive-compulsive, panic, and social anxiety disorders in both children and adults. Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that works by increasing the body’s levels of serotonin, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance.
Although Zoloft has been helpful in treating many patients, it has been associated with several side effects, including the risk of birth defects. Nearly 100 Zoloft birth defect lawsuits were recently consolidated in a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in order to to streamline the process of resolving the cases. The purpose of the MDL is to resolve common factual issues and to simplify the discovery process. The lawsuits are consolidated for purposes of discover y and pre-trial procedures, but, unlike a class action, each plaintiff maintains his or her individual claim. Conversely, in a class action, the similarly situated plaintiffs’ claims are pursued jointly as a class with a representative plaintiff named to represent the interests of the class.
The Judicial Panel that approved the Zoloft MDL in April said they expect hundreds of additional Zoloft birth defect lawsuits to join the MDL, which will make the possibility of reaching a settlement or resolution more efficient.
Plaintiffs in the Zoloft lawsuits claim that Pfizer – the manufacturer of Zoloft – failed to warn the public that Zoloft and other brands of sertraline could cause severe, life-threatening birth defects if the drug is taken during pregnancy. Several studies have linked Zoloft to birth defects, including heart defects, gastrointestinal defects, cleft palate, and Down’s syndrome.
Claims made by plaintiffs in the Zoloft lawsuits are similar to those made by plaintiffs in lawsuits filed against the makers of Paxil. The FDA has warned healthcare providers and patients that there is an increased risk of birth defects, including heart defects and persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, when Paxil is taken by a pregnant woman and recommends that the drug generally not be taken while pregnant.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious side effects from antidepressants such as Zoloft or Paxil, contact the skilled Chicago-based unsafe pharmaceutical drug lawyers at Ankin Law Offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your antidepressant product liability lawsuit.