A new lawsuit has been filed alleging a link between the use of the antidepressant Effexor and serious birth defects.
The lawsuit, filed June 10, alleges that a mother’s use of Effexor while pregnant led to her daughter being born with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, or PPHN. The child was born in 2007. PPHN occurs when a newborn child’s circulatory system does not adapt properly to being outside the womb, depriving the blood of oxygen. The condition causes pressure in the lungs and deprives vital organs of oxygen, potentially threatening the life of the child.
Newborns with PPHN typically must be placed on a respirator in the neonatal intensive care unit, and may need surgery in the first few weeks of life. Even after successful treatment, a child can experience permanent hearing loss.
The lawsuit was filed against Pfizer, the manufacturer of the drug, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceeding may be established by the U.S. Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The panel is considering a motion to coordinate all Effexor filings, to avoid duplicate discovery processes and conflicting rulings. More than a dozen lawsuits regarding Effexor have been filed across the country. The MDL for lawsuits involving the antidepressant Zoloft, also manufactured by Pfizer, is taking place in the same court.