Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) is an antidepressant drug produced by Forest Laboratories. Since Lexapro's introduction to the U.S. market in 2002, millions of patients have taken the medication. Lexapro is prescribed to patients ages 12 years and older who suffer from major depressive disorder. In addition, Lexapro is used to treat adult patients who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.
Lexapro belongs to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs work by increasing the brain's serotonin levels. Unfortunately, Lexapro and other SSRIs have been linked to certain medical complications. Consequently, Lexapro lawsuits have been filed in the state and federal courts.
Injuries from Lexapro
Lexapro is associated with a wide-range of medical complications. Some complications may be relatively minor such as heartburn. Others may be quite serious and life threatening. In their Lexapro lawsuits, many plaintiffs have alleged injuries related to birth defects and suicidal behavior.
One study reviewed data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. The study found mothers who were exposed to any SSRI drug one month prior to contraception to the first trimester of pregnancy may have an increased risk of giving birth to an infant with the following birth defects:
In addition, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that mothers who were exposed to SSRI drugs after their twentieth week of pregnancy may have a six times greater chance of giving birth to a child with persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) compared to mothers who didn't take SSRIs. Infants with PPHN have trouble breathing. In some cases, an infant with PPHN may not survive.
However, the link between antidepressants and birth defects is controversial, with some studies finding no connection at all. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that it's too early to determine whether there's a link between SSRI use and birth defects.
Risk of Suicide
Lexapro and other antidepressants have been linked to suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, teenagers, and young adults ages 18 to 24. Consequently, the FDA requires that Lexapro carry a black box warning on its prescription label about the risk of suicide. Pursuant to the FDA's rules, a black box warning is used for drugs that may cause death or serious injury.
Lexapro Lawsuit Matters
Under product liability law, drug manufacturers and sellers have a duty to ensure that their prescription drugs are safe for patients. If a drug is unreasonably dangerous and carries a product defect, the manufacturer can be held liable for any resulting injuries. Product defects include manufacturing defects, design defects, and warning defects.
In the Lexapro litigation, plaintiffs have claimed that Forest Laboratories provided defective warnings about the risks of birth defects and suicidal behavior. These plaintiffs argue that if the risks had been known, they wouldn't have taken the drug.
Plaintiffs have also filed wrongful death actions in cases where babies died from birth defects or Lexapro users committed suicide. Under wrongful death laws, spouses, children, and parents typically have the right to sue the entity that was responsible for their loved one's death. In addition, some states allow registered domestic partners to file lawsuits as well. In a successful wrongful death suit, surviving family members could be awarded damages for funeral and medical expenses, the loss of the deceased's financial support, and the loss of consortium or companionship.
Status of Lexapro Lawsuit Matters
Many of the birth defect lawsuits involving Lexapro have been filed in a Missouri state court. While the majority of these suits have not yet gone to trial, one Lexapro case involving the alleged suicide of a teenage boy reportedly settled for an undisclosed amount.
Until recently, federal lawsuits involving allegations that Lexapro caused suicides or suicide attempts were consolidated into multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri for pretrial proceedings. In 2013, pretrial proceedings were completed. The court subsequently sent pending lawsuits back to the original federal courts where the lawsuits had been filed for trial. Local federal judges will be responsible for overseeing the trial proceedings.
Benefits of Filing a Lexapro Lawsuit
A major benefit of filing a Lexapro lawsuit is that plaintiffs could be awarded monetary damages for their injuries. The costs involved in treating a Lexpro injury or caring for a child with a birth defect can be overwhelming for many people. In a successful lawsuit, plaintiffs can receive damages forany lost wages, medical expenses, pain suffering, and the cost of caring for a child with birth defects.
Speak with an Attorney About a Lexapro Lawsuit
In addition to monetary benefits, Lexapro lawsuits help raise public awareness about the risks associated with the drug. This could, in turn, spark in-depth conversations between patients and doctors about the advantages and disadvantages of taking the medication. If you're interested in pursuing a Lexapro birth defect suit, you should speak with an attorney specializing in drugs and medical devices about what steps to take.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.