Attorney Jeff Lowe Speaks about Paxil Birth Defects

Posted April 27, 2010 

St. Louis, MO: Women who took Paxil during the first trimester of pregnancy and whose children were born with birth defects should consider speaking with an attorney about their options. Jeff Lowe, a partner at Carey Danis & Lowe, says serious birth defects have been linked to the use of Paxil during pregnancy.

Attorney Jeff Lowe Speaks about Paxil Birth Defects “The cases that we’re handling are birth defects that occurred primarily for woman who took Paxil during the first trimester,” Lowe says. “The primary birth defects are Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) and cardiac defects. Those cardiac defects are mainly atrial or septal defects—holes in the heart.”

That does not mean that babies born with other birth defects are excluded from a potential lawsuit. Pregnant women who took any antidepressants from a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, a class that includes Paxil) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs, a class that includes Effexor) and whose babies were born with birth defects may want to consider speaking to an attorney about their options.

So far the medical literature has made the strongest link between use of certain antidepressants during the first trimester and an increased risk of PPHN or cardiac defects.

“There were studies looking at SSRIs and the early literature didn’t see a connection [between SSRIs and birth defects],” Lowe says. “Then some studies began finding a connection between Paxil and birth defects such as PPHN and cardiac defects. GlaxoSmithKline [Paxil’s manufacturer] had a database they were keeping that was based on their own studies. In 2006, they published their online database, which demonstrated a higher risk in major malformations for infants exposed to Paxil in the first trimester. Additional independent peer reviewed studies confirmed the link.

“Paxil’s warning was changed in 2005 [to include the risk of birth defects]. There was an FDA warning letter issued on December 8, 2005 and a Dear Doctor letter issued in September 2005.”

The good news for potential plaintiffs is that the statute of limitations is not as much of an issue in Paxil birth defect cases as in other situations, because the person most affected by the Paxil is the child. In all states, according to Lowe, “the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run for a minor until the minor is either 18 to 21 years old, depending on state law, so there isn’t a statute of limitations issue for most children born with birth defects as a result of their mothers taking Paxil.”