Zoloft Lawsuit Filed Over Anencephaly Birth Defect

An Ohio couple has filed a Zoloft birth defect lawsuit, alleging that use of the popular antidepressant during pregnancy caused their child to suffer a neural tube defect known as anencephaly, which resulted in the child being born without a large portion of his brain, only to die hours after birth.

The complaint was filed by Susan and James Hodge in the Cuyahoga Court of Common Pleas in Ohio against Pfizer and Cardinal Health; an Ohio-based pharmaceutical supply company.

The Zoloft lawsuit alleges that Pfizer failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about the risk of birth defects and malformations from side effects of Zoloft.

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The Hodge’s son suffered from anencephaly, a fatal neural tube defect that prevented the development of a large portion of his brain and skull. He died 18 hours after he was born.

Zoloft (sertraline) is a popular second-generation antidepressant introduced by Pfizer in 1991 for the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. By 2007 there were nearly 30 million prescriptions, making it the most prescribed antidepressant in the United States. Zoloft belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

In recent years, a growing amount of research and adverse event reports have suggested that use of Zoloft during pregnancy may increase the risk of serious and potentially life-threatening health problems for babies, including persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), heart defects, lung defects, abdominal defects, cranial defects and other malformations.

Studies have suggested that Zoloft side effects may increase the risk of birth defects when used as early as the first trimester of pregnancy, a time when many women do not even know they are pregnant.

The risk of birth defects from SSRI antidepressant has been a concern for several years. In 2006, the FDA released a public health advisory that antidepressant side effects could cause serious injury to infants if taken by the mother after the 20th week of pregnancy, including a six-fold increase in the risk of the child suffering from PPHN. In 2009, a study found that use of Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants during the first three months of pregnancy could double the risk of septal heart defects in newborns.

In recent months, a growing number of parents whose children have been born with serious birth defects or malformations have been considering potential Zoloft lawsuits. According to allegations raised, Pfizer covered up preclinical and post marketing study results that showed a link between Zoloft and birth defects

The lawsuit brought by the Hodges claims that Susan Hodge read the label and saw no indication that she should be concerned about her pregnancy. The couple is pursuing claims against the defendants for product liability, wrongful death, negligence, fraud, breach of warranty, false advertising and unjust enrichment. They seek compensatory and punitive damages.


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