Did you know that the use of the antidepressant Paxil during the first trimester of pregnancy has been associated with birth injuries including heart malformations in infants?

The antidepressant Paxil was first put on the market in 1992 and the public was basically told that the antidepressant did not have any known links to birth defects. About 13 years later Glaxo Smith Kline – the manufacturer of Paxil-notified doctors that in fact there was a potential link between the use of Paxil during pregnancy and certain birth defects-heart defects in particular. Glaxo’s study showed an increased chance of congenital malformations associated with first trimester Paxil use. In September 2005 the FDA issued a stronger statement that Paxil may be associated with birth defects and the FDA again strengthened its warning in December 2005 with a Public Health Advisory.

On December 8, 2005 the FDA advised the public that exposure to paroxetine (active ingredient in Paxil) in the first 3 months of pregnancy could increase the risk for congenital malformations, birth defects and particularly heart malformations and cardiac malformations. Parents of children with heart irregularities and malformations appreciated this new information and warning because this new information finally provided a possible explanation for their children’s condition.

The first Paxil birth defect trial was the case of Lyam Kilker whose mom used Paxil during her pregnancy. He was born in October 2005 with an atrial septal defect, a ventricular septal defect, and an interrupted aortic arch just 1 month after the FDA cautioned consumers about the risk of using pregnancy and that Paxil can cause birth defects. The case resulted in a plaintiff’s verdict of $2.9 Million dollars in October 2009. In my opinion Glaxo Smith Kline got off easy on this case since the jury somehow found that no punitive damages should be awarded. Although not the biggest verdict – this verdict sent a clear message to the drug company that juries around the USA could find against them in these cases.

Some sources have indicated that the average settlement value of a Paxil Birth Injury case is $1.2 Million dollars, and have also indicated that about 800 cases have settled to date for a total of over $1 Billion Dollars paid out for birth injuries caused by Paxil. More recently though, it seems Glaxo Smith Kline’s strategy may be shifting away from settling these cases and instead taking them to trial (perhaps because there was a November 2010 trial that resulted in a defense verdict–actually summary judgment for the defendant).

There is other litigation surrounding Paxil. For example, there are lawsuits alleging that the withdrawal symptoms were not properly disclosed, there are lawsuits alleging that Paxil causes an increased risk of suicide and there is also antitrust and fraud litigation regarding Paxil.

If you or someone you care about has a child with a birth injury, you should speak to an attorney about whether a prescription drug taken by the mother during pregnancy such as Paxil or other antidepressants-could have caused the birth injury. The Washington DC medical malpractice lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan are available for a free telephone consultation about Paxil Birth Injuries and Paxil heart defect cases. Contact an injury attorney at our law firm by calling (888) 213-8140.