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SSRI Birth Defects Lawsuit FAQ

What is an SSRI?

An SSRI is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. SSRIs are antidepressants but, depending on the medication, may also be prescribed to treat panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

SSRIs work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the patient's brain.

What is an SNRI?

An SNRI is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. Like SSRIs, SNRIs are antidepressants.

SNRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the patient's brain. Because SNRIs are so similar to SSRIs, they are believed to have similar side effect profiles.

What drugs are in the SSRI class?

What drugs are in the SNRI class?

Why have SSRI lawsuits been filed?

Lawsuits have been filed against the makers of certain SSRIs—and lawyers are investigating potential lawsuits against the makers of other SSRIs and SNRIs—for allegedly not adequately warning patients about the risk of side effects when pregnant women use SSRIs or SNRIs during certain portions of their pregnancy.

What are the side effects of SSRIs and SNRIs?

Side effects reportedly linked to SSRIs and SNRIs include persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), congenital heart defects, developmental delays, abnormally shaped skull, cleft lip and cleft palate, and brain and spinal cord defects.

What is PPHN?

Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN, formerly called primary pulmonary hypertension of the newborn) is a condition in which the baby's blood does not enter the lungs and returns to the heart without adequate oxygen. This can result in the baby's organs, including the brain, kidneys and liver, becoming too stressed. Symptoms of PPHN include rapid breathing and heart rate, difficulty breathing, bluish skin, heart murmurs and low blood oxygen levels.

PPHN is a serious condition that can result in the death of the newborn. Those who survive may require surgery.

Have any SSRI lawsuits been completed?

Yes. Some Paxil birth defects lawsuits have been completed. Some resulted in awards for the plaintiffs, others found for the defendant (GlaxoSmithKline). One lawsuit, involving the family Lyam Kilker, resulted in a jury award of $2.5 million to the plaintiffs after the jury found that GlaxoSmithKline failed to warn about the risk of birth defects. Kilker was born with a heart defect.

In 2010, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay around $1 billion to settle approximately 800 lawsuits that alleged babies were born with birth defects after being exposed to Paxil. Some lawsuits are still pending.

What should I do if I am pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and taking an SSRI or an SNRI?

No one should stop taking an SSRI or an SNRI without first speaking to a medical professional. Although there are reportedly risks associated with taking antidepressants while pregnant there are also risks to having untreated depression during pregnancy. If you have concerns about taking an SSRI or an SNRI, speak to your doctor.

How do I know if I have a legitimate claim?

If you took an SSRI or an SNRI while pregnant and had a baby with birth defects, including PPHN and congenital heart defects, contact a lawyer to discuss your legal options.
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Last updated on Jan-28-11

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