Mental health illnesses and disorders affect approximately one out of every four Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other resources. Of the millions of Americans who have been diagnosed and are being treated for some mental health disorder, many are prescribed one or more medications. For example, those who are suffering from depression will often be prescribed an antidepressant to be used in conjunction with counseling and other treatment methods. These medications may have included antidepressants like Effexor.
Effexor and Birth Defects
Effexor is a popular antidepressant drug that has been approved for use in the United States since it first received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to sell the drug in 1993. The maker of Effexor, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, claimed that the drug was safe for use by patients, including patients who were pregnant. It has since come to light that Effexor (like many other mental health drugs) may be linked to the development of birth defects in a pregnant patient’s newborn child.
On the one hand, this should not come as too great of a surprise. After all, many medications (not just antidepressants) warn women who are pregnant, who believe they might be pregnant, or who plan to become pregnant to discuss any medications they may be taking – or may be thinking of taking – with their doctors. Just because a drug has produced no side effects for the woman does not necessarily mean her fetus will not be adversely affected by the drug. Some of the birth defects associated with the use of Effexor by the mother include:
- Heart murmers;
- Spina bifida;
- Club foot;
- Atrial and ventricular septal defects;
- Aortic stenosis.
These conditions can be extremely costly – both financiall and emotionally – for parents of a newborn who develops one or more of these conditions. Lawsuits filed against Pfizer may not be able to undo the harm these birth defects cause, but they can provide the newborn’s family with the resources they will need to help address the damage and limitations the birth defect(s) causes.
Lawsuits Filed for Effexor Medication Birth Defects
Pregnant women who need medications to help control the symptoms of mental health disorders like depression deserve to have the opportunity to discuss their treatment options (including the advantages and disadvantages of each form of treatment) with their medical team. By withholding important information about the risk of harm that may result to the mother and/or the child, Pfizer allegedly deprives women of this opportunity.
Before Pfizer or any other drug manufacturer can release a new drug and market it as a treatment for a specific physical or mental condition, the manufacturer must undergo a rigorous testing process and seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration. This is a process that is typically measured in years, not weeks or months. The process is designed to uncover any dangers or side effects that those who are the intended consumers of the drug may experience while using the drug. During and after this evaluation process, the manufacturer may not:
- Fail to conduct a thorough evaluation of the drug in order to avoid discovering side effects and dangers of the drug;
- Fail to disclose the side effects of the drug that are known or that become known through the process;
- Market the drug for a purpose or for patients for which trials have not been conducted and for which information about potential side effects are not known.
This is precisely what Pfizer is suspected of doing by women whose children were born with birth defects: Despite knowing that Effexor could cause birth defects in the children of pregnant women who used the drug while pregnant, Pfizer marketed the drug as a safe and effective treatment for depression in pregnant women.
It can be difficult for women and families who decide to file an Effexor birth injury lawsuit to win and obtain compensation. This is because the plaintiffs must establish a causal link between the newborn’s birth injury and the use of Effexor by the woman while pregnant. There are a variety of situations and circumstances that can lead to the development of a birth defect, and so the plaintiffs must be able to reasonably eliminate these other potential causes as factors in their case before compensation will be permitted.
Stern Law, PLLC is experienced in investigating injury claims related to the use of dangerous drugs like Effexor by pregnant women. We know the type of evidence you will need to have the best chance at succeeding in your case. If it appears Effexor played a role in your newborn’s birth defect, we are ready to help you get started on your road to recovering compensation for the child’s past and future medical needs as well as other expenses your family will incur. Call Stern Law, PLLC at (844) 808-7529 to learn more about the services we can provide to Effexor birth injury families.