In what appears to be the latest in a wave of Zoloft litigation filed against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, a Pennsylvania couple is claiming that the widely-prescribed antidepressant caused their daughter to be born with clubfoot and a life-threatening heart defect. According to allegations raised in the complaint, the expecting mother took Zoloft while she was pregnant, unaware that use of the drug may lead to birth defects and severe congenital malformations. Despite being the best-selling antidepressant on the U.S. market, Zoloft has been repeatedly linked to a large number of birth defects over the past several years.
What’s the problem?
September 5, 2012 – The new Zoloft birth defects lawsuit was filed last month on behalf of Nicholas and Denise Ciccone in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. According to court documents, the Ciccone’s daughter Noelle was born with clubfoot, a congenital abnormality in which the foot is turned inward, as well as with truncus arteriosus, a defect characterized by a single blood vessel coming out of the right and left ventricles of the heart.
To date, at least 140 Zoloft birth defect lawsuits have been filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country on behalf of children who were born with birth defects after their mothers took Zoloft during pregnancy (particularly during the first trimester, a time when many women may still be unaware they are pregnant). All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that Pfizer knew – or should have known – about Zoloft’s ability to cause birth defects, but that it failed to warn the public and medical communities about these risks.
The Ciccones are accusing Pfizer of manufacturing and marketing a defective drug, failure to warn, negligence, and fraud. Their lawsuit is seeking compensatory damages and medical care, as well as punitive damages. Their case will likely soon be transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where all Zoloft birth defect lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) for pretrial proceedings.