Effexor (venlafaxine) is an antidepressant medication that may increase the risk of birth defects when it is taken during pregnancy. Studies have linked Effexor to birth defects of the heart, abdomen, skull, face, and more.
UPDATE: Dozens of Effexor Lawsuits Dismissed from MDL
January 28, 2015 — Lawyers are asking U.S. District Judge Cyntha Rufe to dismiss 26 out of 68 lawsuits involving birth defects allegedly caused by the antidepressant Effexor. Click here to read more.
November 18, 2014 — For the second time this year, Sun Pharmaceuticals has recalled generic Effexor (venlafaxine) because the pills may not dissolve properly. Click here to read more.
June 17, 2014 — U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe has ordered that the first “bellwether” trials involving Effexor and birth defects will begin no later than November 2, 2015. Click here to read more.
June 5, 2014 — Pfizer and Wyeth have been hit with a lawsuit (PDF) from a couple in North Carolina who claim that Effexor caused their son to be born with a number of serious birth defects, including Complex Total Anomalous Venous Return, Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), Atrial Septal Defect (ASD), Optic Nerve Atrophy, and more. Click here to read more.
March 7, 2014 — Certain bottles of the antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine) have been recalled because they may contain capsules of Tikosyn (defetilide), a drug used to treat atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart rhythm). Patients who accidentally take Effexor and Tikosyn could suffer a life-threatening or fatal cardiovascular event. Click here to read more.
October 17, 2013 — There are 46 Effexor lawsuits pending in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in Pennsylvania, according to an update from the panel of federal judges who oversee the MDL process.
August 8, 2013 — At least 9 Effexor birth defect lawsuits in 5 U.S. District Courts have been centralized in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, before Judge Cynthia M. Rufe. Click here to read more.
July 25, 2013 — A woman from Utah has filed a lawsuit in Utah after she took Effexor during pregnancy and had a baby with extensive birth defects. Click here to read more.
January 7, 2013 — A recent study has linked the use of Effexor during pregnancy to an increased risk of birth defects affecting the heart, brain, skull, abdomen, and face. These defects include anencephaly, atrial septal defect, coarctation of the aorta, gastroschisis, and cleft palate. Click here to read more.
What is the problem with Effexor?
Effexor (venlafaxine) is used by millions of Americans to treat depression. Many pregnant women have been prescribed Effexor to help with anxiety involved with their pregnancy. The fetuses of these women using Effexor or other SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft are at a greater risk of developing a birth defect.
Effexor and Heart Defects
The two most common heart defects are atrial septal defects or ventricular septal defects. Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a form of congenital heart defect that enables blood flow between the left and right atria via the interatrial septum. There is a hole in the wall between the two upper chambers of the heart that allows for this blood flow exchange. Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) is when there is a large opening between the ventricles allowing a large amount of oxygen-rich blood from the heart’s left side through the defect on the right side. It is then pumped back into the lungs, even though it has been oxygenated. The heart, which has to pump an extra amount of blood, is overworked and may enlarge.
Effexor and Lung Defects, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
Recent studies have shown that babies born to mothers who took Effexor were more likely to develop Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), than babies born to mothers who did not take Effexor during pregnancy. PPHN is failure of the normal circulatory transition that occurs after birth. It is a syndrome characterized by marked pulmonary hypertension that causes hypoxemia and right-to-left extrapulmonary shunting of blood. This causes low oxygen levels in the baby’s blood, which can lead to organ damage and death.
Effexor and Abdominal, Cranial Birth Defects
SNRI antidepressants like Effexor may cause two separate congenital abnormalities called omphalocele and craniosynostosis . An omphalocele is a congenital (present at birth) abdominal wall birth defect in which the infant’s intestine or other abdominal organs stick out of the belly button (navel). In babies with an omphalocele, the intestines are covered only by a thin layer of tissue and can be easily seen. Craniosynostosis is a congenital (present at birth) defect that causes one or more sutures on a baby’s head to close earlier than normal. Sutures are connections that separate each individual skull bones. The early closing of a suture leads to an abnormally shaped head.
Effexor Class Action Lawsuit Information
Over 50 lawsuits involving Effexor birth defects have been filed, but these are not part of an Effexor class action. Instead, they are individual lawsuits that have been centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The cases are overseen by Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, who also presides over more than 500 Zoloft lawsuits in the same court.