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Zoloft Heart Defects Lawsuit Filed in Pennsylvania

A woman who was prescribed Zoloft during her pregnancy has filed a claim against the manufacturers Pfizer. According to court documents, the plaintiff alleges the drug caused numerous health complications in her daughter, including  facial deformation and a serious heart defect. The Zoloft heart defects lawsuit – filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania – is the latest in a series of product liability cases brought against Pfizer. The lawsuit accuses the company of failing to warn consumers of the risks associated with taking Zoloft while pregnant, and of manufacturing and marketing a defective product.

The child at the center of the allegations was born in August 2009. After being delivered, she was diagnosed with a heart valve abnormality and patent ductus arteriousus (PDA), a condition that causes abnormal blood flow between two of the major arteries connected to the heart, the aorta and the pulmonary artery. Also present was an atrial septal defect (ASD), commonly known as a hole in the heart. The child has suffered developmental problems including cranial deformities and a squint, both of which were later treated with multiple surgeries.

The plaintiff was not informed of the dangers of taking the drug while pregnant at the time she was prescribed the antidepressant. It is not the first Zoloft heart defects lawsuit to accuse Pfizer of marketing an unsafe product.

Zoloft heart defects lawyer says Pfizer ‘should have known’ the risks

Zoloft is the brand name for sertraline, a commonly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Pfizer held the patent for sertraline until 2006, and racked up an average of 27 million prescriptions for Zoloft every year, including sales worth $3.3 billion in 2005 alone.

Setraline is used to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorders. It won approval from the FDA in 1991, and went on to become the most successful antidepressant in the United States. It has since been linked to several side effects, many of them permanent.

As the publicity surrounding SSRI side effects has grown, so has the frequency of Zoloft birth defect lawsuits. Birth defects alleged to have been caused by Zoloft range from heart problems and skull malformations to spina bifida and cleft palate.

The Zoloft heart defects lawsuit filed in Pennsylvania contends that Pfizer “knew or should have known about adverse effects as early as 1991” but that they failed to warn the FDA, the medical community, or the public.

Pfizer allegedly accumulated evidence that there was a causal link between Zoloft and birth defects, but failed in their duty to perform post-market studies, and therefore are guilty of wilful negligence.

MDL consolidates Zoloft heart defects lawsuits

The latest update on the ongoing legal action against Pfizer says there are at least 336 cases forming the multidistrict litigation (MDL) and more than fifty lawsuits pending in the federal court system.

Additionally, there are several Zoloft lawsuits brought by 23 families pending in state courts around the United States, including Missouri, Illinois, New York, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The MDL was created on April 17, 2012, and is being overseen by Judge Cynthia M. Rufe. The MDL is designed to expedite the lengthy legal process, and is to be heard at the District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.