Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Jury Hears Nation's First Suit Claiming Zoloft Caused Birth Defects

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

St. Louis Jury Hears Nation's First Suit Claiming Zoloft Caused Birth Defects

Article excerpt

A St. Louis jury began hearing arguments Thursday in a lawsuit that claimed the popular antidepressant Zoloft caused birth defects in a California boy. The lawsuit is the first of its kind to make it to trial.

There are similar suits across the country in both state and federal courts alleging that when Zoloft is taken during pregnancy it causes birth defects. None of those lawsuits have yet been heard by a jury.

New York-based Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, denies a link between the drug and birth defects.

Logyn Pesante was born with multiple heart defects, the most serious being transposition of the great arteries, also known as TGA, in which the two main arteries of the heart are in the wrong place. Since his birth Logyn has undergone 25 procedures and six operations and has a pacemaker.

His mother, Kristyn Pesante, took Zoloft during the first trimester of her pregnancy, according to the statements Thursday made before Circuit Court Judge Margaret Neill.

In opening statements Thursday, Pesante's attorney Joseph Zonies of the Colorado law firm Reilly Pozner LLP, argued that Pfizer did not do enough to warn doctors about the potential risks of birth defects when taking Zoloft during pregnancy.

He claimed internal Pfizer documents highlighted the potential risks of birth defects but that information was not included on the label seen by doctors. He alleges the label did little to mention the potential for defects.

Once Zoloft hit the market after its approval for use in 1991, adverse events were reported by patients that included birth defects and fetal deaths, Zonies said during trial. But even then, he alleged Pfizer did not change its label or communicate to physicians when it learned of the adverse events.

"What would a reasonable drug company do?" Zonies asked, alleging the company did not do enough.

Attorneys for Pfizer argued that there is no evidence to prove Zoloft causes birth defects.

"No treating physician or medical records say Zoloft is a cause," of Logyn's condition, said Beth Wilkinson, attorney and partner with Washington, D. …

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