Galveston suits blame anti-depressant for babies' heart defects

John Suayan, Galveston Bureau Dec. 9, 2009, 7:48am

GALVESTON – A Houston law firm has filed suits against a pharmaceutical company on behalf of three women who claim one of the defendant's medications caused birth defects in their children.

The firm Clark, Dean & Burnett GP is representing Jennifer Mays of Ohio, Kristie Corbett of South Carolina and Desiree Higley against GlaxoSmithKline.

The women claim they took paroxetine, an anti-depressant marketed by GSK under the brand name Paxil, while they were pregnant and gave birth to children with heart problems.

The cases were filed Dec. 7 in Galveston County District Court.

Paxil is a member of a class of drugs known as "selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors," or SSRIs. It was first approved for use in the United States by the FDA in 1992 for treatment of depression in adults.

According to the suits, the women consequently delivered babies with multiple injuries. The births took place between April 2002 and July 2005.

"The injuries suffered were direct results of the plaintiffs' ingestion of Paxil during their pregnancies in manners and dosages recommended and prescribed by their doctors," they say.

GSK is accused of negligently manufacturing and marketing the drug in question, failing to adequately warn the users and physicians of any associated risks, and breaching implied and expressed warranties.

"GSK knew or should have known that children were being born with heart and other birth defects to women who took Paxil during pregnancy," the suits say. "GSK knew or should have known that Paxil posed an increased risk of congenital defects, including cardiovascular defects."

The plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for pain and suffering, mental and emotional anguish, and losses of society and consortium.

Galveston County 405th District Court Judge Wayne Mallia is presiding over the litigation.

Case Nos. 09CV2244, 09CV2245, 09CV2246

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