Pfizer Held Liable in Multiple Cases of Birth Defects

Modern medical technology has become very adept at treating and preventing an abundance of detrimental diseases and disorders. Like most other great advancements in the world however, there have been some casualties along the way. Some of these casualties are becoming apparent after expectant mothers began taking the drug Zoloft. Zoloft was initially intended to treat depression, but it was later approved for treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder. It was only years later that it was discovered that Zoloft could cause serious birth defects, and a slew of lawsuits have popped up after this realization. 

Zoloft Dangers and How they Occur

Zoloft was initially released to the general public in 1991, but the FDA didn’t warn about its possible link with birth defects until 2006. The attorneys at point out that for fifteen years expectant mothers were being given the drug without receiving proper warning of its possible side effects. After these fifteen years, the FDA warned that the use of the drug Zoloft by pregnant women increased their newborn’s chances of developing persistent pulmonary hypertension.

Parents are also alleging that their children were born with disorders such as atrial septic defects, ventricle septic defects, cleft palate, cleft lip, Tetralogy of Fallot (a congenital heart disease), craniosynostosis and pulmonary stenosis as a result of Zoloft use. Many of these disorders are heart related and have thus led to the need for major heart surgery in newborns and young babies. These serious side effects may lead people to wonder how this could happen in the modern world.

A sad fact of life is that the people who manufacture the drugs that are supposed to help others are simply in the business of making a profit. Drugs actually don’t even get inspected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); they are simply tested by labs that the drug manufacturer chooses and the results are given to the FDA for review. Many of these labs aren’t even located in the United States, and this leads to less than one percent of foreign labs undergoing inspection by the FDA. All of these factors combined make it quite plausible that a dangerous drug can make it to the market.

Zoloft Lawsuits

A group of cases known as the Zoloft MDL was started in Pennsylvania in April 2012 in an effort to file a mutual lawsuit against Zoloft for the damages caused to newborn children who were born to mothers that took the drug. There were 157 cases in the MDL by September of the same year. All of the plaintiffs in the case state that Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, failed to warn of the possible birth defects related to its use. The failure to warn is vital to the conclusion of the case.

Numerous drugs have detrimental side effects. New prescription drugs are advertised on television daily that list side effects as severe as suicidal thoughts and death. If someone takes a medication after hearing these warnings, they usually have no right to sue for compensation if one of the warned about side effects occur. This is because they knew the risks before taking the drug. In the case of Zoloft, however, the drug was on the market a full fifteen years before anyone was informed of possible birth defects. This makes Pfizer liable for the injury and even deaths that Zoloft caused in newborn babies.

This lawsuit continues to grow by the day. Cases are popping up all over the nation, and some of these cases, such as one filed by two Ohio citizens, are related to the almost immediate death of a child after birth. The cases contained in the MDL in Pennsylvania are not the only ones outstanding; there are currently individual lawsuits outstanding in both Texas and Ohio against the drug manufacturer. With fifteen years of possible victims, there’s no telling how many lawsuits may eventually pop up.

It is a drug manufacturer’s responsibility to provide users with a proper warning of all possible side effects, and when they fail to do this, they put innocent lives in danger. Pfizer’s drug Zoloft has effectively caused serious health defects or deaths in hundreds of cases. Whether this was a simple oversight by the company or a blatant attempt to circumvent the rules, far too many people have been negatively affected. These lawsuits have thankfully put a spotlight on the possible repercussions of taking the drug, but for over one hundred mothers, couples and children, this warning came a little too late.

This article was written by Georgina Clatworthy, a legal writer and former law blog editor.  She contributes this post on behalf of Steinger, Iscoe & Greene is the proven legal team at, who have many years experience and knowledge in dealing with birth defect cases, personal injury and medical malpractice. They understand how difficult these cases can be and always work with the best interests of the client in mind.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 at 3:47 pm and is filed under Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.