Pfizer released the prescription drug now known as Zoloft in the United Kingdom in the 1990s. Citing the success of that drug overseas, the company then brought it to America. After a significant number of men and women experienced side effects and witnessed birth defects in their children after taking the medication to treat their depression, a portion of those patients filed lawsuits against Pfizer.
What is Zoloft and its Uses?
Zoloft is an SSRI medication that helps the brain regulate its production and levels of serotonin. Studies found that reducing and controlling serotonin levels can help patients reduce certain symptoms of depression. Unlike other drugs that can treat multiple problems, including Wellbutrin, which can reduce the symptoms of depression and aid patients stop smoking, doctors typically only use Zoloft as an antidepressant. Doctors will only prescribe the drug to patients who exhibit multiple signs of depression for a period of two weeks or longer. Those signs can include difficulty sleeping, insomnia, changes in appetite, mood swings and thoughts of suicide.
Zoloft first made headlines when research into the drug found that it can lead to an increase in thoughts of suicide among younger patients. The number of teenagers and younger patients who committed suicide while on Zoloft is higher than the figures reported among similar drugs. Zoloft can cause mild side effects that include insomnia, changes in libido, tiredness that lasts throughout the day and stomach cramps. Some of the more serious side effects include coordination problems, loss of memory, concentration problems and an increase in depressive thoughts and feelings.
Class Action Lawsuit
Two massive lawsuits against Pfizer in Pennsylvania and California showed patients the potential risk factors associated with taking the drug. Lawyers working on a class action suit in California argued that patients experienced no benefits when taking Zoloft and even those who took the medication for two years or longer experienced no reduction in their side effects. The attorneys claimed that the drug did little more than sugar pill or placebo did. Pfizer argued that the drug did work as directed and that the lawsuits had no merit. The company even presented psychologists who claimed that their patients did well on Zoloft.
Types of Birth Defects
A more dangerous group of lawsuits filed against Pfizer came from patients who argued that the medication led to severe birth defects in their children. The FDA cautions women against using the drug while pregnant and encourages them to stop using it for several months before becoming pregnant. Some of the birth defects that may occur include club feet, congenital heart defects, spina bifida and defects in the skull. Babies born to mothers who used antidepressants may also suffer from addictions to those drugs. This will require that doctors treat the kids and help wean those children off the medication.
File Against Pfizer
Filing a lawsuit against a major corporation like Pfizer can leave some patients feeling helpless. That is why those who used Zoloft and gave birth to children with certain birth defects should consult an attorney. An attorney may also assist those who lost someone to suicide while taking the medication and those who experienced other side effects that interfered with their laws. Patients can become part of existing class action lawsuits or upcoming lawsuits. They also have the option of working with their attorneys to file a new lawsuit in the state where they live to get compensation for medical bills and other costs.