Effexor is an antidepressant medication. It was the first serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, or SNRI. It was launched by drug manufacturer Wyeth in 1993. In 2009, the company was acquired by Pfizer. Effexor became highly successful, growing to become the world’s top-selling antidepressant. In 2007’s third quarter alone, Effexor reached $958 million in sales.
Effexor treatment is highly discouraged in pregnant women. A number of pregnant Effexor users have experienced severe birth defects as a result of taking Effexor during pregnancy. As a result, Effexor lawsuit claims are arising against Pfizer for children born with debilitating birth defects.
On December 10, 2007, the FDA released a statement discussing Effexor’s misleading advertising efforts by manufacturer Wyeth. The FDA stated that a specific ad minimized the risks of taking Effexor. The effectiveness of the drug was also overstated.
The ad argued that the drug prevented depressive episodes in 92 percent of cases as opposed to 55 percent with a placebo. According to the letter, the FDA stated that this claim was based on an inadequate study. Additionally, Wyeth claimed that 20 million people were treated with Effexor. This was also deemed misleading, as doctors and patients may associate these numbers with quality.
Effexor Birth Defects
Effexor use has been associated with a number of birth defects when the drug is taken during pregnancy. The FDA has given Effexor a pregnancy category of C. This “grade” signifies that Effexor has caused harm to animals during testing. However, there is no sufficient evidence to prove harm to humans, due to the fact that human testing is unethical.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study in 2010 on venlafaxine, the active ingredient in Effexor. The study indicated that the risk of miscarriage was double in women who took the drug during pregnancy.
Documented Effexor birth defects include:
- Heart defects and malformations
- Physical defects such as cleft lip and palate
- Respiratory distress
- Anencephaly, or the absence of parts of the brain and skull
- Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, or PPHN
- Craniosynostosis, which causes abnormal skull and brain growth
- Omphalocele, or an abdominal defect that causes organs to protrude from the belly button
Effexor Lawsuit Claims
The first Effexor lawsuit was filed in February 2012. The plaintiff’s daughter Adelaide was born with severe heart defects in 2012. Adelaide suffered a malformed mitral valve and aorta. These fatal malformations led to her death hours after she was born. Since then, two more Effexor lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer for birth defects.
In September 2012, an Illinois couple claims that Effexor caused their daughter to be born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome in 2004. This rare condition left her with a severely underdeveloped left heart ventricle. The Adamczyk’s family alleges that Wyeth did not clearly warn consumers of the dangers of birth defects from Effexor treatment.
Lisa Rooney and Wayne Halvorsen also filed an Effexor lawsuit for their daughter’s birth defects in 2009. The birth defects required that their daughter undergo a number of surgeries. She is also expected to undergo a number of future surgeries to continue treatment for her heart condition. Rooney and Halvorsen have filed the Effexor lawsuit against Pfizer, the prescribing doctor, and the pharmacist who distributed the drug.
Filing a Effexor Lawsuit
Effexor lawsuits are being filed by those who experienced Effexor birth defects or other side effects such as suicidal thoughts and tendencies. Effexor patients who believe that Effexor has caused harm may be eligible to receive a settlement from Pfizer or Wyeth. These patients should speak with an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can help discuss each plaintiff’s Effexor lawsuit and advise the best legal option to pursue.