Paxil (paroxetine) is an antidepressant that is part of a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. These types of drugs—which also include Zoloft, Prozac, and Celexa, among others—reportedly work by changing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in the brain, to improve mood, outlook, and behavior. GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil entered the market in 1992 and recently has been linked to serious side-effects.
One of the most popularly prescribed SSRIs, Paxil has been used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder. In 2005, however, the FDA issued an advisory that Paxil may increase the risk for birth defects, particularly fetal heart defects when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. Mothers who were prescribed Paxil during their pregnancies had no idea that the SSRI drug could cause harm to their growing child, and many lawsuits have been filed claiming that GlaxoSmithKline negligently failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks associated with Paxil and pregnancy.
Meta-analysis published out of the medical journal Reproductive Toxicology in 2011 studied the links between SSRIs like Paxil and heart defects, including an analysis from 2010 finding that Paxil use caused an increased risk of congenital heart defects. A 2011 study out of Obstetrics & Gynecology analyzed data from Finland finding that babies were four-times as likely to develop certain heart defects when exposed to Paxil during pregnancy as compared to mothers who did not take the SSRI. Further, a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the risk of certain heart defects was 2.4 times greater for babies exposed to Paxil in the first trimester of pregnancy compared with those who were not exposed.
Paxil Settlements and Verdicts
The first Paxil lawsuit was tried in 2009, brought by two parents whose young son was born with holes in his heart after his mother took Paxil during her pregnancy. She was unaware of the drug’s risky, harrowing side effects when it was prescribed to her. During the trial, evidence was presented that as early as 1980, GlaxoSmithKline had performed and hidden scientific studies on animals linking Paxil to birth defects but failed to warn doctors or patients of the drug’s risks. The case resulted in a $2.5 million jury verdict.
By July 2010, GlaxoSmithKline had paid over $1 billion to settle at least 800 claims related to Paxil and its propensity to cause birth defects. Later, in 2012, the drugmaker plead guilty to the Justice Department’s fraud allegations, resulting in $3 billion in civil and criminal fines related to its unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, including Paxil.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you took Paxil during your first trimester of pregnancy and your child was born with a heart defect, you may be legally entitled to financial compensation.
Want to Know if You Have a Valid Legal Claim?
Call 888-973-6361 to speak with an experienced attorney about your potential legal claim regarding Paxil and your baby’s birth defects.