Drug maker Pfizer sued in federal court over birth injuries

The birth of a child is a happy and life-changing event for most. Parents look forward to having a healthy child. In certain cases, however, during labor or because of medications prescribed by doctors during pregnancy, birth injuries may occur.

Expectant New Jersey and New York residents will find it interesting to learn that drug maker Pfizer has been sued in federal court over birth injuries resulting from the use of Zoloft during pregnancy. The suit was filed on behalf of a woman earlier this year and alleges that ingestion of the anti-depressant Zoloft during pregnancy caused her son to be born with Supraventicular Tachycardia or episodes of rapid heart rate.

The newborn underwent intensive treatment, and will require regular monitoring of his heart rate and activity level through annual EKGs. Further, the mother is suffering from mental, emotional and financial distress as a result of her son’s birth defect.

The drug maker marketed Zoloft to doctors and the public despite knowing the adverse side effects and, the suit alleges, encouraged doctors to prescribe the drug to pregnant women and women of childbearing age. In general, health care providers have an on-going duty to provide a reasonable standard of care. This includes ensuring the right medication and dosage are prescribed for the patient’s condition and discussing potential side effects with the patient.

If a health care provider breaches their duty of providing reasonable care and harm results, the health care provider may be held liable for medical malpractice. A patient and the family of the patient may be entitled to compensation.

Every case and circumstance is different. It may be helpful for a family who has experienced a birth injury to contact an expert in this area of law to understand their legal options, rights and next steps.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, “Indiana mother sues Pfizer in federal court in Phila. Over Zoloft injuries to newborn son,” Jon Campisi, Jan. 16, 2013