Pharmaceutical

Celexa, Lexapro birth defects lawsuits returned to state court

Pregnant woman Celexa, Lexapro birth defects lawsuits returned to state courtFifteen lawsuits over birth defects in children born to women who took the antidepressants Celexa or Lexapro while pregnant were remanded to state court, a federal judge in Camden, N.J., ruled. Attorneys for the drugs’ maker Forest Laboratories unsuccessfully argued that federal jurisdiction was proper because there were questions about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) labeling of the drugs. Defendants’ claims that Forest Research Institute was fraudulently joined as a defendant were rejected as well.

The 15 lawsuits are among 20 that were filed in state courts in New Jersey and removed to federal court by the drug companies. The lawsuits allege that women who took the antidepressants while pregnant gave birth to babies with birth defects including heart defects and malformations. Some infants died from their injuries.

Plaintiffs claim that the drug company knew the medication could cause birth defects in babies born to pregnant women  who used the drugs but failed to warn doctors or consumers. Instead, the drug company actively promoted the antidepressants to women of child-bearing age.

Celexa and Lexapro are in a commonly prescribed class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Other drugs in this class include Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac, and manufacturers of those drugs face similar birth defects lawsuits.

At least 182 lawsuits have been filed in the United States against Forest Laboratories and its affiliates alleging birth defects in children born to women who used the drugs while pregnant. More than 150 of those were filed in state court in Cole County, Mo., though none list Forest Research Institute as a defendant. Forest Research Institute coordinates regulatory and research activities for the parent company, Forest Laboratories.

Both Celexa and Lexapro are the subject of a separate group of lawsuits alleging the drug maker improperly promoted the drugs for use in children and adolescents.

Source: NJ Law