Effexor is the brand name of an antidepressant drug manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. First approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993, Effexor is also prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder. It belongs to a class of antidepressants called SNRIs, which stands for serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. SNRIs like Effexor work by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) serotonin and noreprinephrine, which are thought to regulate mood and attention.
Effexor Side Effects
As with any medication, people who take Effexor may experience certain side effects. Common side effects include:
Among the more serious side effects is a condition called serotonin syndrome, which occurs when too much serotonin is present in the brain. Symptoms include shivering, muscle tightness, confusion, and seizures. If left untreated, serotonin syndrome can result in death.
Children whose mothers took Effexor during pregnancy may face an increased risk of developing birth defects. Birth defects that Effexor may be linked to include heart defects, problems swallowing or breathing, and cleft palate.
Pharmaceutical Drug Liability
Pharmaceutical companies have a legal obligation to make sure their medications are safe for users. All drugs sold in the United States must first be approved by the FDA. This typically involves a testing period that often last years. However, even after the FDA approves a drug it may not be safe for all users. If the FDA is aware of any risks a drug poses to certain persons, such as the elderly or pregnant women, it may require the manufacturer to include a "black box" warning on the drug labels describing such risks.
Drug manufacturers must also inform doctors or their patients about any excessive risks the drugs pose, even if the FDA hasn't yet required a black box warning. A company that doesn't disclose such risks may be liable to persons harmed by those drugs under a "failure to warn" theory of liability. For example, if a manufacturer knew that its drug posed an elevated risk of developing birth defects in children whose mothers took the medication while pregnant, but did not warn doctors or expectant mothers of this danger, the company may be required to pay compensation for injuries caused by the drug. Damages may include any medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages the plaintiff experienced.
First Effexor Lawsuits
The first lawsuit alleging a link between Effexor and birth defects was filed in February 2012 in a Pennsylvania state court. The plaintiff in that case was an Ohio woman who alleged that her daughter died shortly after birth as the result of heart defects caused by Effexor.
Later that year, a second Effexor lawsuit related to birth defects was filed in federal court in Pennsylvania by an Illinois couple. The plaintiffs in that suit alleged that exposure to Effexor caused their daughter to be born with a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome. While that condition was not fatal, the plaintiffs claimed that the syndrome requires expensive and repeated surgeries and medical treatment to correct.
Another Effexor lawsuit was filed in October 2012 by a Montana couple whose daughter was also born with congenital heart defects. That suit, filed in state court in Montana, likewise named Pfizer as a defendant, along with the drugstore chain that filled the prescription, the pharmacist who dispensed Effexor, and the doctor who prescribed it to the expectant mother.
Effexor Lawsuits Today
In 2013, nine Effexor birth control lawsuits that had been filed in federal courts were consolidated for pre-trial proceedings in a process called Multidistrict Litigation, or MDL. As a result, a single federal judge in Pennsylvania will oversee the cases as the parties prepare for trial. MDL is designed to reduce the time needed for the cases to be heard by avoiding the need to duplicate the same procedures for each lawsuit. The number of Effexor lawsuits is expected to grow in coming years.
Get a Free Evaluation of Your Effexor Claim
If you gave birth to a child with birth defects after taking Effexor, you may have a cause of action against the manufacturer of the drug. In a successful suit, patients may be awarded damages for their child's birth defects, including compensation for medical expenses, the cost of care, and pain and suffering. You can have an attorney review the facts of your situation free.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.