November 15, 2012 — The popular SSRI antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline) has been associated with an increased risk of heart defects, cranial defects, intellectual disabilities, fetal withdrawal, premature birth, and other serious side effects.
The manufacturer of Zoloft, Pfizer, is now facing more than 300 lawsuits from women who claim that the drug company failed to warn them about the possible increased risk of birth defects. Since the litigation was centralized in April, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed.
Most Zoloft lawsuits are currently centralized in a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). The MDL is located in the federal U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where Judge Cynthia M. Rufe presides. Judge Rufe and many lawyers in leadership roles are coordinating pre-trial discovery.
The Zoloft MDL was established in April 2012 with less than 100 cases. In just a few months, the MDL has expanded significantly, and now includes almost 250 cases. All of these lawsuits involve children who were born with birth defects after their mothers used Zoloft during pregnancy.
The following number of Zoloft lawsuits have been filed as of October 2012:
- 245 lawsuits in the MDL
- 43 lawsuits in Missouri
- 17 lawsuits in Illinois
- 7 lawsuits in New York
Most of the lawsuits allege that Pfizer failed to provide adequate risk information to pregnant women who used Zoloft to treat depression. At least a dozen studies have linked Zoloft to a wide range of birth defects. One of the most common complications is fetal withdrawal, which affects about 30% of SSRI-exposed babies, and is characterized by vomiting, irritability, poor feeding, convulsions, and other side effects.
Several studies have also linked Zoloft to an increased risk of heart defects, which may require the child to undergo surgery shortly after birth. Other studies have linked Zoloft to cranial defects, spinal defects, intellectual disabilities, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN), and more.