A lawsuit filed by a woman who claims taking Eli Lilly & Co.’s antidepressant Prozac during pregnancy caused her child to be born with a heart defect will move forward after an Alabama federal court refused the drug company’s motion to dismiss the case.
U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins found that the plaintiff, Dana Fields, had a genuine dispute against Eli Lilly, and that she could show factual causation that her doctor would not have prescribed the drug to her had he known the risks, even though the doctor is now deceased.
Fields claims that in 1996 she took Prozac for the first eight months of her pregnancy. Her son was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare heart defect that causes oxygenated and deoxygenated blood to mix. Fields filed her lawsuit in January 2013, claiming that Eli Lilly should have put stronger warnings on the labels for Prozac regarding the potential for birth defects if taken during pregnancy.
Eli Lilly had argued that there was not enough evidence to show that Fields had actually taken Prozac during her pregnancy, and that she could not adequately support her failure-to-warn claims because her doctor had died years before Fields filed her lawsuit. Fields was offering testimony from one of her doctor’s longtime nurses who claimed to have been familiar with the doctor’s “customs and practices.” Judge Watkins ultimately sided with the plaintiff, rejecting the drug company’s bid for dismissal.
Prozac is in a class of antidepressant drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Prozac, which hit the market in 1987, was the first in its class. Other FDA-approved SSRIs include Zoloft, Paxil, and Lexapro.
Studies have linked SSRI use during pregnancy to birth defects including heart defects, lung defects and malformations.
Source: Law 360