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Alleged Zoloft Birth Defects Lawsuits Report from Resource4thePeople: Federal Judge Schedules Important Status Conference

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) May 17, 2013

Resource4thePeople today announced it is providing consumers its latest update about consolidated federal lawsuits* involving allegations that the use of Zoloft or similar anti-depressants classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may cause birth defects in infants.

The latest information in the multidistrict litigation is that the judge in the case has scheduled a Mary 31, 2013 Leadership Status Conference to update her on the process of the litigation. The judge already has scheduled bellwether trials to begin in October of 2014.

The multi-district litigation involves hundreds of cases involving similar allegations under the jurisdiction of U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Judge Rufe has ordered “all members of the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee as well as Defense counsel” to submit a joint proposed agenda before the meeting in the U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia, Pa.

“Status conferences such as this perform an important function by updating the judge on the progress of the litigation and consumers benefit by being informed about details involving hundreds of cases alleging that the use of Zoloft and other SSRIs during pregnancies may cause birth defects in infants,” said Resource4thePeople.

Resource4thePeople is also informing consumers who may have used Zoloft that even though the court files* in the case show that there are now over 300 cases consolidated in this litigation the judge has not issued any order preventing future cases from being filed.

"A common question we have been receiving from consumers involves the question of how their legal rights may be affected by the progress of this litigation,” said Resource4thePeople.

“Every case is different but we are continuing to offer free consultations to consumers to help provide them the information they need to preserve all of their legal options over allegations involving the use of SSRIs.”

These consultations can provide legal options about whether such families may be eligible to seek compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering and other expenses that may stem from these circumstances.

Each of the plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation is seeking at least $75,000 in damages, according to the court files. The manufacturers of Zoloft have denied the allegations.

SSRI anti-depressants are the newest class of anti-depressants and are sold under various brand and generic drug names such as Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Lexapro and Depakote. The National Institute of Mental Health web site describes these medications as the most popular antidepressants.**

The common allegations in the Zoloft multidistrict litigation* are that women who used Zoloft to treat depression while pregnant were put at increased risk of giving birth to an infant suffering from birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot, spina bifida and heart and abdominal defects, according to the claims in the court files.

Also claimed in these court filings are allegations that some infants may have been born suffering from the life-threatening condition known as pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN).

This condition, according to the Food and Drug Administration web site, occurs when a newborn baby does not adapt to breathing outside the womb.***

The FDA says that newborns with PPHN may require intensive care support including a mechanical ventilator to increase their oxygen level. If severe, PPHN can result in multiple organ damage, including brain damage, and even death.

Resource4thePeople notes that the FDA has given mixed signals about the link between PPHN and SSRI use. In 2006 the agency issued a warning about the dangers of SSRI use and PPHN. Now the FDA says it is unsure.***

Here is the most recent statement by the FDA, released on Dec. 14, 2011:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is updating the public on the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants by women during pregnancy and the potential risk of a rare heart and lung condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). The initial Public Health Advisory in July 2006 on this potential risk was based on a single published study. Since then, there have been conflicting findings from new studies evaluating this potential risk, making it unclear whether use of SSRIs during pregnancy can cause PPHN.”

Resource4thePeople also is bringing to the attention of SSRI patients new medical research data that raises concerns about whether the anti-depressants may also put patients at increased risk of suffering heart arrhythmia.

These concerns are raised in published reports of a medical research study in the Jan. 29, 2013 British Medical Journal.

According to the study, the SSRIs citalopram (brand name Celexa) and escitalopram (brand name Lexapro) “trigger a disturbance in QT interval (the duration of electrical activity of the heart muscle) heart rhythms.”

The medical research report's lead study author Dr. Roy Perlis and his colleagues “confirmed through analysis a slight but significant QT prolongation with higher doses of citalopram,” saying that “although some QT variation is normal, a longer interval can upset timing of the heartbeat and lead to dizziness, fainting, and depending on severity, sudden death.”

The researchers also reported that citalopram, escitalopram, and amitriptyline were associated with prolongation of corrected QT interval, which is a marker of increased ventricular arrhythmia risk.

The report emphasized that other antidepressants, including some other SSRIs, were not identified as causing significantly associated with prolonged corrected QT intervals.

*In Re: Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride) Products Liability Litigation - MDL 2342, United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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