Zoloft®, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991 for the treatment of depression and related disorders. By 2005 it was one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants in the country.1 Around that same time, however, it became linked to serious risks and medical complications, and a number of lawsuits have been filed against Zoloft's manufacturer, Pfizer, as a result.
Medical complications and Zoloft lawsuits
The FDA has issued mandates and advisories in recent years regarding the use of Zoloft among children, young adults and pregnant women:
- An FDA review of clinical trial data revealed that use of Zoloft and other SSRIs can lead to suicidal thoughts and self-harming behaviors among children and adolescents. Following this discovery, the FDA mandated stricter labeling in 2007.2
- Several medical journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, have published studies reporting an increased risk for birth defects3 among babies born to mothers using Zoloft. In 2006, the FDA published a notice advising physicians to weigh benefits and risks before prescribing sertraline hydrochloride, the main ingredient in Zoloft, to pregnant patients.4
Birth-related injuries are currently at the center of many Zoloft lawsuits.
Birth defects class action against Pfizer
Following reports of birth defects in babies born to patients using Zoloft, hundreds of families sued Pfizer in courts across the nation. These lawsuits eventually evolved into a class action, and a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) was approved by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.5
An MDL is a consolidation of cases involving similar injuries and similar defendants in order to create consistent rulings. Currently around 250 Zoloft birth defect cases are part of the consolidated class action. The trial is slated to begin by September 2014, according to a court order issued in November 2012.6
Other Zoloft litigation
Zoloft has been the subject of other types of lawsuits as well. In a 2006 criminal case, Zoloft use was presented as a defense for a 15-year-old accused of murdering his grandparents.7 Jurors rejected this, however, and the teen was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Wrongful death lawsuits have also been filed8 against Pfizer on behalf of clients harmed by Zoloft users.
If you or a loved one has been injured from Zoloft use, you may be entitled to legal compensation. An experienced lawyer can review the facts of your case and help determine your next steps, including filing a claim in court.