Psychology professionals and people who suffer from chronic, bipolar, or general depression will tell you that the ailment should not bar women from going on with their lives, creating families and doing all of the normal activities that their peers are engaging in. However, this leads to a deeper debate as to whether the mother should remain on her antidepressant regimen.

It was only in the last decade that the public has been informed that the most common antidepressants, serotonin reuptake antidepressants (SSRIs) like Zoloft, cause birth defects. In 2006 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent out a warning and later imposed on Zoloft their most stringent warning, the black box warning, regarding the danger of Zoloft and birth defects.

Birth Defect Research

Recently, a research paper was published in the British Medical Journal. It reported that taking paroxetine (Paxil) and sertraline (Zoloft) during the second half of a woman’s pregnancy could more than double the risk that babies will develop persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).

PPHN affects about 1 in 1,000 newborns. It has been found that more than double that number of newborns of mothers taking antidepressants in the second half of their pregnancies. It is defined as high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, essentially causing the right ventricle of the heart, which is the main provider of oxygenated blood, to work harder, potentially causing heart failure.

This is a serious ailment and in his article Antidepressants and pregnancy: What to do now, famed psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow gave some recommendations for patients on SSRIs:

1) Women considering pregnancy should try to stop or not to start antidepressants. If the patient requires treatment for depression, they should try psychotherapy or transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).

2) Women who find themselves pregnant while already taking antidepressants should talk to should doctor about very slowly stopping them, but only if you can do so safely, without severe symptoms of depression returning.

3) Never stop antidepressants all of a sudden. This can cause serious symptoms that affect the patient and her unborn child.

4) Do not stop antidepressants during pregnancy if the patient has become suicidal while depressed in the past and antidepressants have been necessary to ward off thoughts of suicide.

5) While many obstetricians and many primary care doctors are comfortable treating depression, Dr. Ablow believes it is best to be seen by a psychiatrist if the patient is taking antidepressants and want to have a baby.

Zoloft Birth Defect Lawsuits

Zoloft has been on the market for far longer than 2006 however. It was introduced in 1991 by global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and has enjoyed billion dollar sales since. These new research revelations and warnings by the FDA findings have inspired many parents of PPHN victims who took Zoloft during pregnancy to review the situation that lead to the injury or death of their child.

A growing number of women have found that Zoloft has potentially played a part in the birth defects found in their children either currently alive or deceased. They have done this through the aid of an experienced attorney like those at Phillips Law Firm, who are able to research and extract the right documents and evidence from the correct sources. This has lead to a move towards a Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) class action lawsuit.

On January 18, Pfizer filed a motion to consolidate all federal Zoloft birth defect lawsuits. Pfizer requested that they be centralized before one judge for pretrial litigation as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL. Currently there are 59 lawsuits alleging Zoloft birth defects involving common claims and questions of fact.

The company, lawyers, and plaintiffs alike prefer the class action system because it expedites and simplifies the process. Pfizer suggested New York because it’s near their headquarters and allows their economic impact on the area to sway the local jury. The company asked the U.S. Judicial Panel to create a Zoloft MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. However, the majority of the complaints are in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where at least 48 of lawsuits are pending.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is expected to hear oral arguments on the motion during a hearing scheduled to occur on May 31, 2012, at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse in Washington, D.C.

Filing a Zoloft Lawsuit In Washington State

Evidence has not yet presented itself, but there is a suspicion by current plaintiffs that Pfizer may have potentially known about this birth defect issue prior to the FDA warning and chosen not to reveal it to physicians, the FDA, and patients. This sort of revelation could be a major deciding factor in this case.


However, the lawsuits focus mostly on the birth defects, which include:

  • PPHN
  • Heart defects
  • Lung defects
  • Abdominal defects
  • Cranial defects
  • Limb malformations

Just because the majority of the lawsuits are based in Pennsylvania does not mean that it is not potentially a national class action. This means that women effected by Zoloft birth defects in Washington State are still eligible to seek justice and compensation for pain and suffering of both them and their child both alive or deceased.

National Zoloft Attorneys

If you have found that you or a loved one has had a child with a birth defect and they were taking Zoloft during pregnancy, they may be entitled to compensation. It is important that you contact legal council that has experience in protecting patients from giant pharmaceutical companies. Call Phillips Law Firm for a consultation on your legal options.