Published April 20, 2012 on LawsuitInformation.org
A lawsuit against drug manufacturer Pfizer is simmering in St. Louis, bouncing between state and federal courts while judges decide who will have the pleasure of trying the case. The class action suit is on behalf of 21 mothers who contend that their children were born with birth defects caused by the antidepressant drug Zoloft, which is made by Pfizer.
This particular lawsuit was filed in February and is still in its early stages. However, it is but the latest addition to a disturbing number of prescription drugs which are the subject of litigation due to the serious side effects they cause. Antidepressants in particular have been under fire for causing severe birth defects, up to and including fetal death.
Every drug has side effects, and consumers have the right to frank and accurate descriptions of the risks involved before they start taking a pharmaceutical product. Unfortunately, the trend has been for marketers and manufacturers to downplay or cover up the potential side effects of their wares, with sometimes disastrous results.
“Some haphazardly constructed and advertised medications are contributing to ailments that are much more difficult to overcome than the patient’s original health problem,” says John Bisnar, an attorney at California personal injury firm Bisnar Chase. “As more drug defect victims continue to come forward with debilitating injuries, more pharmaceutical manufacturing companies are being hit with large settlements and verdicts.”
Crippling Side Effects
“If you take medication, avoiding side effects is nearly impossible,” Bisnar says. “Mild side effects are of little concern, but what may seem to be a mild side effect may turn out to be something that is life-threatening. The best way to tell which is which is by keeping track of the medications that have received numerous complaints across the globe.”
A number of medications are currently the subject of lawsuits:
- Reglan, an acid reflux drug, can cause Tardive Dyskinesia, a permanent neurological disorder characterized by involuntary facial and limb movements.
- Actos is a diabetes medicine that has been linked to bladder cancer.
- The painkiller Darvocet was removed from the market in 2010 after the FDA found that use of the drug can lead to heart problems and death.
- A drug used to treat seizures and migraines, Topamax, has been found to cause birth defects like cleft palate.
- Use of Effexor, an antidepressant, can cause heart and lung defects in babies.
- People using Accutane to treat severe acne could be subject to liver disease, depression, ulcerative colitis and birth defects.
- Fosamax is a drug used to treat osteoporosis but can cause a number of side effects, such as rashes, numbness, loose teeth, jaw collapse and fractured femurs.
- The antibiotic Levaquin has been implicated in tendon ruptures. A 76-year-old plaintiff from Minnesota won $1.8 million from manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in 2010, and many more suits are pending.
- Depakote, used to treat manic depression, has been found to cause a range of birth defects, some mild but others as serious as skeletal deformation and fetal death.
- Another antidepressant, Lexapro, can also cause abdominal, cranial and heart-related birth defects.
- Paxil, yet another drug used to treat depression, is linked to a laundry list of side effects for adults and newborns, all the way from dry mouth and gas to seizures, bleeding and serious heart and lung defects. As of July 2010 manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline had already spent $1 billion to resolve 800 claims of birth defects.
- The diabetes drug Avandia, another GlaxoSmithKline product, has sparked more than 13,000 lawsuits due to its propensity for causing heart attacks.
- A blood-thinning product called Plavix, designed to reduce the risk of heart attacks, has come under fire for actually increasing the chance that patients could suffer from heart attacks, strokes or other ailments.
- A lawsuit over the hormone replacement drug Prempro was settled last fall after Pfizer faced a $73 million verdict for three women who said the drug gave them breast cancer. Nearly a thousand other claims are still pending.
- Yaz, a relatively new hormonal birth control product, is alleged to cause heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, and gallbladder disease.
- Cholesterol medicine Zocor is facing lawsuits claiming that the drug causes a deadly muscle disease called Rhabdomyolysis.