Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant belonging to a class of drugs called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These medications, such as Paxil, Prozac and others, reportedly work by changing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, to improve mood, outlook, and behavior. Zoloft was first introduced in 1991 by Pfizer, and by 2013, became the most prescribed antidepressant in the U.S., boasting over 41 million prescriptions. However, despite being marketed to have fewer side-effects than Zoloft’s competitor medications, Zoloft has been linked to its own serious side-effects—especially when taken during pregnancy.
Zoloft was initially approved to treat major depressive disorder in adults, as well as other disorders including panic and social anxiety. In 2002, Zoloft was approved to be used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder in children. Though when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, Zoloft may cause fetal heart defects, putting unborn children at risk. A 2009 study out of Denmark analyzing nearly half a million children found that Zoloft tripled the risk of developing septal heart defects in children when taken by their mothers during pregnancy. The study also found that children born to mothers who took more than one type of SSRI had a 4-fold increased risk of these types of heart defects. Yet another study published in January 2015 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology concluded that babies exposed to Zoloft in the womb were 34% more likely to be born with a heart defect. Women who took SSRIs like Zoloft while pregnant were not adequately warned that the drug was potentially causing devastating side-effects in their unborn children.
Lawsuits are being filed around the country citing Pfizer’s negligence in failing to warn patients that the drug may significantly increase the risk of heart malformations and other birth defects. Many plaintiffs claim that despite Pfizer’s knowledge of Zoloft’s birth defect risks, the company continues to sell and market Zoloft to doctors and patients without adequately warning about the reported birth defect risks. In 2012, hundreds of cases alleging similar claims were centralized in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal court before Judge Cynthia M. Rufe to expedite pretrial proceedings in what is called a multi-district litigation, or MDL. Unlike a class action, each case remains its own individual lawsuit in an MDL, yet duplicative discovery efforts and costs are eliminated, giving way for more efficient, cost-effective trials.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you took Zoloft during your first trimester of pregnancy and your child was born with a heart defect, you may be legally entitled to financial compensation.
Want to Know if You Have a Valid Legal Claim?
Call 888-973-6361 to speak with an experienced attorney about your potential legal claim regarding Zoloft and your baby’s birth defects.