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Florida Mother Sues Pfizer Over Son’s Zoloft Heart Defects

Zoloft Lawsuit Settlements Birth DefectsA Florida mother filed a Zoloft lawsuit against Pfizer on February 4, 2013 in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Florida, charging that the antidepressant caused her son to be born with life-threatening congenital heart defects.

Mother took Zoloft for depression while pregnant

According to the complaint, the mother had suffered post-partum depression after giving birth to a previous child and was prescribed Zoloft, which she continued to take during her subsequent pregnancy with her son. Neither the plaintiff nor her doctor were aware that Zoloft could pose a risk to a developing fetus.

Her son was born on December 7, 2004 with the congenital heart defects ventricular septal defect and patent foramen ovale. Ventricular septal defect refers to a hole between the heart’s two lowers chambers which allows oxygen-rich blood to mix with oxygen-poor blood in the heart. This puts extra strain on the child’s heart, lungs, and cardiovascular system. Patent foramen ovale is a hole in the upper chambers of the heart that normally exists while the fetus is in the womb, allowing blood to bypass the lungs, which are not being used during pregnancy. However, the hole is supposed to close up when the baby is born so that blood can now flow to the lungs. If the hole does not close up, it is a birth defect called patent foramen ovale.

Lawsuit alleges Pfizer misled doctors and patients

The Zoloft birth defects lawsuit charges that “based upon the alarming evidence and ‘signals’ that had been accumulating since the 1990s,” Pfizer knew or should have known that the SSRI antidepressant was linked to birth defects, yet the company failed to add a warning for birth defects to the medication’s label. Additionally, the lawsuit alleges that Pfizer misled doctors and patients by suppressing information about Zoloft’s negative side effects and providing only favorable data about the drug’s safety and effectiveness.

The plaintiff mother and her husband, the boy’s father, charge that the boy’s heart defects have caused him to suffer “physically, mentally and emotionally” and forced him to undergo multiple hospitalizations and surgeries and ongoing medical tests, and he will continue to be “deprived of a normal life” because of them. They bring multiple counts against Pfizer including fraud, negligence, and product liability. They are seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Pfizer, in excess of $75,000.