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In This Zoloft Lawsuit, the Birth Defect Child Serves As Plaintiff

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Chicago, ILIt's one thing for a parent of a child born with a Zoloft pregnancy defect to take a drug manufacturer to task for allegedly withholding information and marketing a product fraught with risk. It's quite another for the child of a mother prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft to approach the courts for help.

In this case, a woman hailing from Chicago and born in 1991 with multiple congenital birth defects has launched a Zoloft lawsuit, and claims that her health issues—including a cleft lip and cleft palate—resulted from the use of Zoloft by her mother while pregnant.

Angela Rife filed her six-count complaint in St. Clair County Court late last year. Pfizer Inc. is named as the defendant. In her lawsuit, Rife notes that during her mother's Zoloft pregnancy, the congenital birth defects emerging when Rife was born in 1991 were taking shape as the result of her mother's use of Zoloft.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since issued warnings about Zoloft and other antidepressants in the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI) class, inherent with pregnancy. In 2006, the FDA issued a warning that infants born to mothers who ingested Zoloft or other SSRI antidepressants beyond the 20th week of pregnancy were six times more likely to emerge with the Zoloft heart birth defect persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) than infants born to mothers who avoided antidepressants during pregnancy.

That was in 2006. Rife was born in 1991. In her Zoloft lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges that defendant Pfizer failed to adequately test Zoloft before bringing it to market. Rife also alleges that Pfizer knew of the dangers and risks associated with Zoloft but withheld the risks and failed to warn.

Similar allegations were made by a group of plaintiffs across several states that joined a Zoloft lawsuit filed last November also in St. Clair County Court. The eight couples who hail from Indiana, Minnesota, Florida, Wisconsin, Texas, New York and Illinois allege that Zoloft caused various birth defects in their children.

Their allegations against Pfizer include "a campaign of misinformation" by Pfizer. The plaintiffs further allege that Pfizer "hid important information about the risks of taking Zoloft during pregnancy," choosing not to reveal those risks "because it feared such information would cause Zoloft sales to plummet," according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs allege their infants were born with defects ranging from neural tube defects, gastroschisis, omphalocele, craniosynostosis, cleft lip, clubfoot, anal atresia, limb reduction defects and Zoloft heart birth defect.

Plaintiff Rife can relate. Unbeknownst to anyone, when her mother was Zoloft pregnant, the inner workings of the Zoloft ingested by her mother would allegedly result in Rife's cleft lip and cleft palate. Rife accuses Pfizer of negligent and careless breach of duty, fraud and misrepresentation, and is asking for more than $75,000 in actual damages, in addition to punitive damages "in a fair and reasonable amount to deter Pfizer and others from engaging in the wrongful conduct," according to text of the lawsuit published January 5 in the Madison County Record.

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