ANTI DEPRESSANTS


Product Liability Lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in Pharmaceutical Litigation and drug injury cases
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Anti Depressants Injury Lawsuits

Investigating drug injury cases & complications

Anti depressants are some of the most popular drugs prescribed in the United States with over 100 million individual antidepressant prescriptions written each year. The usage of anti depressants has tripled over the last few decades.

It is commonly argued that this class of drugs is overprescribed, particularly for young adolescents. Obviously these medications are very effective for many depressed patients, but the drugs are associated with many serious side effects.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public and physicians of the dangers posed by SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), and has added Black Box Warnings to the drug labels in years past. Commonly used anti-depression medications include the following brand names:

  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Paxil (paroxetine)
  • Pexeva (paroxetine)
  • Brisdelle (paroxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline hydrochloride)
  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)
  • Sarafem (fluoxetine)
  • Effexor

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors


Antidepressant medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work to balance the chemicals in the brain, and are commonly used to treat depression and other psychological and anxiety disorders.

Serotonin in the brain is a neurotransmitter thought to affect a person’s mood, sleep, and ability to learn. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression. An SSRI enables serotonin to remain active and allows it to be properly absorbed by nerves.

Some medical experts believe that depression is caused by low levels of serotonin, which pave the way for huge sales of SSRIs such as Paxil, Zoloft, and Prozac. Doctors debate, however, that the benefits always outweigh the possible risks of taking these drugs for long periods of time.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated drug injury lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in SSRI anti depressants injury cases and a wide variety of product liability claims against pharmaceutical companies.

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ABOUT THE LYON FIRM

Joseph Lyon has 17 years of experience representing individuals in complex litigation matters. He has represented individuals in every state against many of the largest companies in the world.

The Firm focuses on single-event civil cases and class actions involving corporate neglect & fraud, toxic exposure, product defects & recalls, medical malpractice, and invasion of privacy.

NO COST UNLESS WE WIN

The Firm offers contingency fees, advancing all costs of the litigation, and accepting the full financial risk, allowing our clients full access to the legal system while reducing the financial stress while they focus on their healthcare and financial needs.


SSRI Injury & SSRI Side Effects


Around 34 million adults in the U.S. take anti depressants. More than 25 million Americans have been taking antidepressant medications for more than two years, more than double the amount in 2010.

It is thought that the longer a patient stays on a course of anti depressants, the more difficult it will be to quit. Severe withdrawal symptoms have been reported, and extreme cases result in people losing their jobs or dropping out of school to deal with their drug-related trauma.

Even though drug-makers have not taken responsibility for the ability of patients to deal with their “discontinuation syndrome,” lawyers and victims are seeking compensation for damages that occur as a result.

Pharmaceutical companies may be liable for injuries, medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering if they have not properly warned patients of the risks, and merely touted the benefits of antidepressants. Doctors who prescribe drugs like Paxil and Prozac and Zoloft may also be liable if they do not properly care for patients following initial care.

Some antidepressants have serious health risks. Discuss these risks with your doctor. Some of the potential risks are listed below. Side effects that are commonly associated with anti depressants include the following:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Problems with digestion
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle spasms / twitching
  • High blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Irritability and aggression

    SSRI Birth Defects


In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggested that makers of all antidepressant medications update the existing the warning labels on their products to discuss increased risks of suicidal thinking and behavior in young adults. In 2007, the FDA requested that the warning be extended to include young adults through age 24.

Some antidepressant medications might also harm a fetus if taken during pregnancy. In 2005, the FDA warned that women who take SSRIs while pregnant are in danger of suffering from pregnancy complications and having children suffer from serious birth injuries, such as heart defects and premature birth.

One of the birth defects associated with the use of SSRI medications is coarctation (narrowing) of the child’s aorta. When the aorta is not fully developed, as is the case in babies born with coarctation of the aorta, the heart may have difficulty providing the body with enough oxygen to function.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists further possible birth defects linked to SSRIs:

  • Craniosynostosis—a birth defect of a baby’s skull
  • Anencephaly—a birth defect of a baby’s brain and skull
  • Atrial septal defects—a type of heart defect
  • Heart defects with obstruction of the right ventricular outflow tract
  • Gastroschisis—a birth defect of the abdominal wall
  • Omphalocele—another type of birth defect of the abdominal wall

Anti Depressants Lawsuits


Antidepressants are far from harmless. The drugs create a dependency, can lead to emotional numbing, and sexual dysfunction. Around half of people trying to stop taking their antidepressants after a long course say their addiction is “severe.”

Drug companies like Pfizer have suggested patients taper-off their products, though that is easier said than done. Victims and product liability attorneys argue that drug companies should provide more warnings and assistance with ending a prescription safely.

Physicians can be quick to prescribe antidepressants like Prozac, Paxil and other SSRI inhibitors, and although they may initially help, doctors may not have a long-term plan to take patients off specific drugs.

Reports have shown that when patients try to wean themselves off certain antidepressants, they experience adverse health outcomes, including depression, the very condition the drugs aim to eliminate.

Experts and consumer advocates have targeted drug companies that market and distribute antidepressants. It is the responsibility of a pharmaceutical company to study and test drugs, not only on the front end, but for potential antidepressant withdrawal symptoms at the end of a drug course.

photo of attorney Joe Lyon reviewing anti depressants injury cases
A Voice for Those who have suffered
Why are these cases important?

By taking the initiative and filing drug injury lawsuits, plaintiffs can receive proper compensation and hold a corporation accountable for their negligent actions. Consumer safety depends largely on making sure companies operate within the law and within ethical boundaries.

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Questions about Pharmaceutical Litigation
Can I file suit?

When drug makers and large corporations are negligent and produce dangerous products that lead to serious illness and injury, legal action can be necessary. In the current corporate environment, filing lawsuits is one of the only ways to keep drug companies from selling untested and dubious pharmaceuticals in the name of profit. Pharmaceutical litigation – through a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer- helps bring awareness to these companies as to the necessary changes that need to occur in order to keep people safe a healthy while taking a  certain drug. 

By taking the initiative and filing drug injury lawsuits, plaintiffs can receive proper compensation and hold a corporation accountable for their negligent actions. Consumer safety depends largely on making sure companies operate within the law and within ethical boundaries.

How does the drug label come into play?

In past litigation, it has been discovered that drug companies often delay adding serious side effects to a drug’s label due to concerns about the impact on the sales and marketing. If a drug carries more serious side effects, physicians and patients look for alternative treatments with less risk and the same or similar benefit.  As a result, there is a financial incentive not to strengthen the warning label.

However, the label is the source of information that physicians and patients rely upon when making these important health decisions.  There is no excuse for a company not to update its label when the science is sufficient to show an association with the medication.

How does this relate to the FDA?

Most experts would agree that the FDA is not designed nor does it have the resources to monitor every product through the post approval process once it has been granted clearance. Very simply, the volume of drugs that are presented for review is too demanding, so, while the FDA is a good initial step in the process, the responsibility of providing safe and effective pharmaceutical companies remains on the companies that profit from the sales.

While the pharmaceutical companies have yielded more influence over the review process, ultimately, the law is very clear that it is the company’s responsibility to run the appropriate tests, track the data, and to identify the side effects and then warn consumers and physicians adequately and in a timely manner. Government approval is not a shield for liability. The Failure to timely and sufficiently warn of side effects operates as the primary cause of action for pharmaceutical claims.

Most importantly, the FDA and the government do not provide for compensation when someone is injured by a pharmaceutical product.  The civil justice system provides the means for an individual harmed by a pharmaceutical product to obtain justice and recover for the losses suffered.

Without the civil justice system, companies would not be required to pay for the harm they cause, and the public tax system, in terms of Medicare and Medicaid, would have to absorb that loss. In other words, without pharmaceutical lawsuits, the tax payers would pay for corporate malfeasance and neglect.

What are some examples of Pharmaceutical Settlements?

The current opioid crisis is a good example of how over-prescribing medications can lead to a huge public health crisis. Pain medications have been a great tool for physicians in treating a wide variety of conditions, however, the abuse of prescribing and using pain medication has turned into one of biggest areas of pharmaceutical litigation today.

It is not only opioids that have been prescribed in huge numbers. Other drugs that have only been tested in short trials are released to the market each year and injure patients. A few examples of drug injury:

Testosterone: Low T clinics are under investigation after many patients receiving testosterone therapy have reported strokes and heart attacks. Experts say doctors may be pushing the therapy when not every aging man requires testosterone therapy.

AntibioticsAntibiotic injuries are being reported at record rates as the drugs are prescribed more than ever before. Drug resistance and drug injury rates are on the rise, concerning the medical community and consumer protection attorneys.

Diabetes Drug Injury: Severe side effects are being reported by diabetes patients taking Invokana and other diabetes medications. Amputations and gangrene cases have opened the eyes of many taking the drugs, and lawsuits have been filed on their behalf.

Drug Contamination: Valsartan and Losartan contamination cases have raised the risk of patient cancer. Drug companies have failed to control the production process and put consumers at unnecessary risk.

Opioid Painkiller Lawsuits: Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and other large drug companies are deep in pharmaceutical settlement talks many years after the beginning of the opioid addiction crisis. Thousands of Americans die each year in opioid-related overdose deaths, many of which begin with doctors over-prescribing pain medications.

Depo Provera: Confidential settlement from Pfizer to resolve all of the claims currently pending in the New Jersey State coordinated litigation. Joseph Lyon represented 13 females who suffered osteoporosis due to the failure of Pfizer to properly warn them and their physicians.

Seroquel: AstraZeneca resolved claims for $198 Million regarding claims that the company failed to warn about risks of diabetes and excessive weight gain. The Lyon Firm participated in this settlement and represented numerous claimants. In addition to the individual claims, Federal prosecutors and authorities from several U.S. states investigated whether AstraZeneca promoted Seroquel off-label, or for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The company announced a settlement of $520 million with the U.S. Justice Department over the matter.

Trasylol: Bayer resolved certain claims for $60 Million for patients who suffered heart failure and death as a result of the drug Trasylol.  Trasylol was a drug used to prevent excessive bleeding during heart surgery. The science unequivocally showed Trasylol can cause kidney damage, heart failure and strokes, and greatly increase patients’ risk of post-surgery death when compared to rival treatments.

In 2006, a study by Dr. Dennis Mangano was published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluding that the drug more than doubled the risk of renal failure.  After fourteen years on the market, Bayer suspended sales in November 2007. The Lyon Firm participated in this settlement.

Vioxx: Merck settled the outstanding Vioxx claims for $4.85 billion. The Lyon Firm participated in this settlement.  In 2004, after a study showed Vioxx doubled the risk of heart attacks and strokes, Merck pulled Vioxx from the market. The case was then litigated with 16 trial ultimately going to the jury for a decision. Merck prevailed in 11 of the 16 trials.

Despite the settlement, Merck has not admitted that that Vioxx caused injuries. Each claim under the settlement was analyzed under an protocol that weighed such factors as a user’s age, their length of use, and their health risks such as obesity or hypertension. The individual extraordinary payout for a heart attack case was capped at $600,000.

How are the cases handled?

Pharmaceutical litigation is a complex area of law that combines dense regulation, developing science, and multi-jurisdictional questions of law. Most cases involving claims of drug injury and pharmaceuticals become centralized in the federal multidistrict litigation process. Pharmaceutical litigation involving injury claims are not in most cases not class action lawsuits, but they are very similar.

Due to the volume of cases and number of similar issues, most pharmaceutical cases are handled through Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). The multidistrict litigation procedure is guided by the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation, where the case is centralized before one federal Judge for the purposes of pre-trial discovery.

The MDL process is appropriate where there are one or more common questions of fact in multiple cases pending in different federal district courts.  While there often are parallel state consolidated proceedings, the federal MDL process is generally supported by both Plaintiff and Defendants in these cases.

The MDL process allows for efficiency where there are millions of pages of documents, many expert witnesses across multiple disciplines from epidemiology, pharmacology, toxicology and the specific discipline for the relevant mechanism of injury.

Although 28 USC 1407 does not specify a specific number of cases required before the formation of an MDL is appropriate, the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation reviews the Motions and conducts a hearing to determine whether consolidation is ripe given the number and location of the pending cases.

What is an MDL?

Most people understand what a class action lawsuit is, and fewer are aware of what an MDL refers to. It is important for a claimant to know, however, that an MDL is not a class action, as the term is often misapplied in this context, and the original court (home or transferee jurisdiction) retains the authority to present the case at trial.

In most MDL settings, the case is resolved by way of settlement or a summary judgment motion on the questions of science (i.e., Daubert Motion). If either settlement or dismissal on Motion occurs, the case is not remanded to the originating court. If the case is not resolved at the MDL, then the case may be remanded to original jurisdiction for additional discovery on the case specifics and ultimately trial.


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