The number of lawsuits against Forest Laboratories for its antidepressant Lexapro is expected to continue to rise as more women step forward to share their stories. The drug has been on the market since it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002. It is approved for and used in the treatment of depression and certain anxiety disorders.
Lexapro has helped many people to feel better, but it has also been found to cause a number of serious problems, not least of which is harm to developing fetuses. Many women are filing Lexapro lawsuits over the birth defects their children have suffered. Now, it may even be the case that Lexapro contributes to the development of autism in children. If you have had a child with birth defects or autism and you suspect Lexapro is to blame, you can make your case and seek compensation.
How Lexapro Is Used
Lexapro, made by Forest Laboratories, is an antidepressant of the class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. As an antidepressant it was first approved by the FDA to treat depression, but it has since been found to be useful in patients with generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, panic disorder, and other types of anxiety disorders.
SSRIs like Lexapro work to boost mood and soothe anxiety by acting on neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the brain. Specifically, Lexapro acts by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Low levels of this neurotransmitter may be one cause of depression and anxiety.
Side Effects and Complications
Lexapro can help struggling patients feel better, and for many of these people it has been a life saver. On the other hand, there are risks and side effects, some of which are very serious and have been the basis for many of the lawsuits against Forest. Some common and less serious side effects some people experience on Lexapro include dizziness, sweating, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, appetite loss, infections, dry mouth, shaking, and nausea.
A much more serious issue with Lexapro and other antidepressants is that they can increase suicidal thoughts and actions in young patients. The FDA issued a warning about this in 2007 and all affected antidepressants carry a warning about it, but for some children the warning came too late. Lexapro is not approved for use in children or teenagers, but doctors may prescribe it for a young person if it is an option of last resort and nothing else has worked. The suicides of young people have triggered lawsuits against other manufacturers of antidepressants.
Also serious is the fact that antidepressants like Lexapro can cause uncomfortable and painful withdrawal symptoms even though it is not considered addictive. Patients are not supposed to stop using Lexapro without a doctor’s guidance. If they do, potential symptoms of withdrawal include headaches, lethargy, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, dizziness, nightmares, upset stomach, diarrhea, blurred vision, and lightheadedness.
Another very serious complication that can occur with Lexapro is a birth defect in the child of a mother who used the medication while pregnant. A link has been made between Lexapro and several defects, although it is not common. Now there is also growing evidence of a risk of autism for the children of these mothers who thought that their medication was safe to use while pregnant. It is this wrong assumption that has made mothers angry and led to the filing of lawsuits against Forest Laboratories.
Birth Defects and Lawsuits
Women who struggle with depression while pregnant have a tough choice to make: whether or not to risk using antidepressants. To make this difficult choice, women need to have all the facts about the risks, and that is exactly what many women are saying in lawsuits that they were not given. They accuse Forest of not warning patients and doctors adequately of the risks of birth defects. Forest has still not included any warning on the label for Lexapro and has not acknowledged that there is any risk at all.
In addition to the reports from individuals who used Lexapro and had children born with birth defects, there are also the results of a study from 2009 showing a connection between the drug and defects. The study found that there is an increased incidence of heart defects in particular in the babies of women who used any SSRI antidepressant during pregnancy. The infants were also found to be at a greater risk for a dangerous condition called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn.
Women have filed Lexapro lawsuits to seek compensation for the medical problems their children face. Some of the women who have started suits had children born with a club foot, spina bifida, and a cleft palate. Birth defects can cause lifelong problems, pain and suffering, and ongoing medical bills. Families have sought monetary compensation to help make up for many of these costs. They accuse Forest of misrepresenting Lexapro and making it seem less risky than it really is.
Autism and the Potential for Further Lawsuits
A study more recent than the one from 2009 found another troubling connection between SSRIs and problems in children. The study proved that children born to mothers who used drugs like Lexapro while pregnant were more likely than others to be diagnosed with autism. This is a fairly new discovery and had not yet led to lawsuits. As more evidence accumulates, though, the number of suits brought against Forest is expected to grow.
Illegal Marketing Lawsuit
In addition to the lawsuit brought against Lexapro because of birth defects, Forest has also been the defendant in a suit regarding illegal marketing practices. The company was found guilty of promoting Lexapro for use in children when it had not been approved for that use. Doctors may prescribe drugs off-label at their discretion, but drug companies cannot promote them for off-label uses. Forest ended up paying a $300 settlement in the case.
If you took Lexapro and suffered any of the complications, especially if you had a child born with birth defects or autism, you can file a lawsuit to seek compensation. A child’s birth defects and developmental challenges can cost families more than they can afford. To help you get the money you need to provide for your family, let a lawyer guide you through the process of making a claim against Forest.