Zoloft is a brand name for a drug containing the active ingredient sertraline chloride. Pfizer first developed and began manufacturing Zoloft in 1990 and released it in the United Kingdom as an anti-depressant medication called Lustral. Nine years later, the FDA approved the medication for use in the United States, and Pfizer marketed the drug as Zoloft.
By 2005, Zoloft had risen to the top of the anti-depressant market, and approximately 30 million prescriptions were being written each year, generating $2.6 billion in gross sales. Unfortunately, some patients who were prescribed Zoloft did not respond well to the medication and serious side effects occurred that patients were not expecting.
If you or a loved one was prescribed Zoloft and suffered unexpected side effects, including an increase in suicidal thoughts or the development of birth defects during pregnancy, you may have a legal claim against Pfizer. To learn more, contact a Zoloft injury attorney at Roberts & Roberts today.
Uses of Zoloft for Depression
Zoloft is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin is associated with feelings of happiness and positive moods, and those who have low serotonin levels are prone to depression and other mental health problems. Zoloft works by blocking the re absorption of serotonin in the brain, resulting in higher serotonin levels.
According to the FDA Medication Guide, Zoloft is used to treat:
- Manic depressive disorder (MDD)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Side Effects and Problems with Zoloft
The FDA identifies a number of potential side effects than can result from taking Zoloft.
- An increase in suicidal thoughts, especially among children and young people who are prescribed Zoloft. Suicidal tendencies resulting from Zoloft use are most likely to occur within the first few months of starting treatment or when the dosage of the medication is changed.
- Severe allergic reactions resulting in swelling of the tongue, eyes, mouth or face; breathing problems; and rashes or welts
- Abnormal bruising or bleeding
- Seizures or convulsions
- Manic episodes with symptoms including racing thoughts; sleep problems; reckless behavior; excess energy; unusually grand ideas; talking too quickly; and excessive happiness
- Appetite and weight changes
- Reduced sodium levels in the blood.
Patients are made aware of these potential side effects in drug warning labels and in the FDA medication guide. However, Zoloft can also cause other problems for patients.
In fact, despite being marketed as safe for use during pregnancy, when taken by a woman carrying a child, Zoloft can significantly increase the risk of birth defects.
For example, babies exposed to Zoloft prior to birth may experience the following complications:
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN)— The risk of developing this lung problem may be up to six times greater due to Zoloft use during pregnancy.
- Anencephaly— The risk of developing this fatal neural tube defect may be up to 2.5 times greater.
- Clubfoot— There is as much as a five times greater risk of this deformity in babies exposed to Zoloft in the womb.
- Craniosynostosis— There may be up to a 2.5 times greater risk of developing this craniofacial defect.
- Omphalocele— The risk of developing this abdominal wall defect may nearly triple.
- Gastroschisis— There is also up to a 30 percent greater chance of developing this problem with the abdominal wall.
- Pulmonary atresia— The risk of developing this heart problem involving a congenital malformation of the pulmonary valve is up to three times greater.
- Spinabifida— The risk of developing spina bifida is as high as 60 percent greater.
- Diaphragmatic hernia– The chances of developing this condition causing a hole in the diaphragm are as high as 80 percent greater.
- Esophageal atresia– There is as much as a 30 percent greater chance of developing this digestive condition.
- Heart defects— Babies exposed to Zoloft may be twice as likely to develop heart problems, including atrial septal defects; double outlet of the right ventricle; tetralogy of fallot; left or right hypoplastic heart syndromes; transposition of the great arteries, or ventricular septal defects.
Zoloft may also result in premature birth, miscarriage, delayed development, a cleft lip or palate, and an enlarged heart.
The FDA has labeled Zoloft as a Category C medication, which means that there have not been sufficient studies done in order to fully understand the risks to pregnant women. However, Category C medications are recognized as drugs that may be dangerous to a fetus.
Compensation for Zoloft Side Effects
Hundreds of women have given birth to babies with defects or have lost their babies as a result of taking Zoloft. As a result, more than 250 birth defect cases have already become part of a multi-district litigation. Multi-district litigation bring many claims together so certain issues can be decided in one consolidated case.
If you or a loved one was harmed as a result of taking Zoloft, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages. If you lost a family member, then you may be able to obtain wrongful death damages.
An experienced drug injury attorney at Roberts & Roberts can help you understand your legal options and make a choice about how best to pursue your claim. For a free, confidential review of your claim, call us today at 903-597-6000 or 903-597-6000 or contact us online. The call costs you nothing … It could mean everything.