Jan 25, 2013 |


Jan 25, 2013 - Wrongful Death

A grieving Wisconsin couple is suing pharmaceutical manufacturer Pfizer over fatal birth defects suffered by their newborn daughter, the alleged result of taking the anti-depressant Zoloft during pregnancy. The wrongful death lawsuit says Zoloft caused a constellation of medical problems including malformation of the brain, hydrocephalus and lung defects. The baby lived only a few hours and died on the same day she was born.

Zoloft is also sold as a generic drug called Sertraline. The suit says Pfizer and its subsidiary, Greenstone LLC, either knew or should have known that the medication posed an imminent risk of birth defects because it can “cross” the placenta. The placenta serves as a sort of barrier wall for various substances found in the blood. Drugs that cross the placenta wind up in the unborn baby’s circulatory system.

It will be up to a court to decide if Pfizer really did hide evidence that Zoloft and Sertraline were dangerous when taken by pregnant women. The Wisconsin couple will have plenty of company in court. A raft of lawsuits over Zoloft have been bundled together in an action called the Zoloft Products Liability Litigation. It seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

The prescribing information for doctors that comes with both Zoloft and Sertraline has what is called a “black box” warning about the drug’s potential to cause suicidal thoughts or behaviors. The warning cautions doctors to be on the lookout for those. On page 23 of the prescribing information, the subject of pregnancy is discussed. It says newborns exposed to Zoloft and Sertraline in the third trimester “have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support and tube feeding.” The document warns physicians to “carefully consider the risks and benefits” of using the medications during pregnancy.

Source: Pennsylvania Record, “Wisconsin couple files Zoloft wrongful death claim in Phila. federal court,” Jon Campisi, Jan. 4, 2013

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