If you have suffered side effects from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or had a baby born with birth defects due to the use of SSRIs, finding the right lawyer can help determine whether you have a claim and need to protect your legal rights.
The widespread use of SSRIs
Early depression medications were found to have serious side effects. In response, drug companies attempted to find safer ways to treat mood disorders and depression.
SSRIs are medications that boost serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the body that affects moods and emotional responses.1 The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of these medications since the late 1980s, including such popular medications as Paxil®, Zoloft®, Prozac®, and Lexapro®.2
These antidepressants were soon prescribed for other uses.3 Doctors have given the medication to patients for:
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Today, millions of Americans are prescribed SSRI-type drugs each year, and drug companies make billions of dollars in profits.
FDA black box label warnings
By 2004, the medical community and the FDA became concerned by study and clinical trial findings about SSRIs. Eventually, the FDA issued safety warnings about the drugs and required manufacturers to relabel the products with these new warnings.4 These “black box” warning labels explained that the antidepressants could potentially cause life-threatening risks, which included suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Symptoms and complications associated with SSRI use and withdrawal
SSRIs have been beneficial to some, but not all, patients. Serious complications have surfaced in patients of these drugs. As recently as October 2012, CBS News reported a link between SSRI drugs and stroke.5
Use of SSRIs may cause many unexpected side effects. Some of these side effects, for adults and children, may include:
- Self-harming behaviors
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Drowsiness and Weakness
- Birth defects
- Loss of appetite
- Sexual dysfunctions
Even patients who are lowering their doses or stopping certain drugs experience withdrawal-related side effects,6 which include flu-like symptoms, thoughts of suicide and death, anxiety, pain, confusion, dizziness, electric brain shocks, blurred vision, and even swelling. These withdrawal symptoms can last for days, weeks, and even months.
Why you need an attorney
Makers of prescription drugs have a duty to make effective and safe medications for use by adults and children. In the case of SSRIs, they also have a duty to properly warn consumers of potential problems that come from using their medications. When companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Forrest Pharmaceuticals, and Eli Lilly fail to honor these duties and consumers are harmed as a result, class action lawsuits are often filed.
Litigation attorneys specializing in drug liability cases can:
- Help you figure out if you or your family have a right to recover
- Explain issues and legal terms about fault and duties
- Help research the companies responsible for specific harms
- Answer questions about your legal rights and options
- Research your claims, the existing laws, and evidence
- Prepare court-related paperwork
- Find experts that support your case
- Help you value your claim, including current and future losses
- Help you build a case that has a better chance for success
- Help negotiate and collect settlement funds
SSRI Birth Defects and MultiDistrict Litigation Cases
Some women are warned about the use of some antidepressants while pregnant. Medical journals have reported serious birth defects7 resulting from the use of SSRIs during pregnancy. These birth defects can cause serious congential problems that effect babies’ lung, abdomen, heart, skull, and brain development.
Because of the large number of birth defect cases, several attorneys have filed mass tort litigation cases involving SSRI birth defects in babies. Hundreds of Zoloft-related birth defect cases are pending in the United States District Court in Pennsylvania.8 Lawyers have filed similar SSRI-related birth defect cases in other states involving Zoloft, Paxil, and other SSRIs. Other SSRI-related birth defect attorneys have even filed state court cases against the SSRI makers, such as the cases filed by lawyers in In Re: Paxil Pregnancy Cases filed in Philadelphia.9
People expect the medicines prescribed to them will make them feel better; however, some drugs can cause more harm than good.
If you or a loved one have had serious side effects due to use of SSRIs or other types of antidepressants, you may need the help of an experienced attorney. You may have a right to sue because of side effects from SSRIs or birth defects caused by SSRIs, and a lawyer can help.