A lawsuit, filed against Forest Laboratories Inc. in a New Jersey federal court, alleges that the company’s antidepressant Lexapro caused fatal birth defects in a child whose mother took the drug during pregnancy. The complaint, filed by Chandra Shuck, a Michigan resident, names Forest Laboratories and Lexapro inventor H. Lundbeck A/S as defendants. The pharmaceutical companies are accused of ignoring studies indicating the drug increased the likelihood of birth defects. It’s alleged that – with that knowledge – Lexapro was marketed as safe for pregnant women.

Ms. Shuck took the drug during pregnancy and her daughter was born with multiple congenital heart defects and she died two weeks later. Ms. Shuck alleges that Forest Laboratories violated New Jersey’s Products Liability Act, Wrongful Death Act and Survivor’s Act by aggressively marketing Lexapro for use by women of child-bearing years, including pregnant women, despite studies indicating it increased the likelihood of birth defects. It alleged further that the drug never received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for use in pregnant women.

It’s alleged that the defendants encouraged their sales force to promote Lexapro to women of child-bearing years despite having knowledge of the risk and promoted Lexapro as being a “safe alternative for pregnant women.” It’s alleged further that Forest Laboratories and Lundbeck should have issued warnings about the drug’s potential danger to pregnant women, which would have prevented Ms. Shuck’s doctor from prescribing her the drug during her pregnancy. During her pregnancy, Ms. Shuck says she took Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, generically known as escitalopram, to treat her depression. Her daughter was born on April 7, 2005, and died two weeks later after four open heart surgeries.

Ms. Shuck is represented by Chris Seeger, who is with Seeger Weiss, a firm based in Philadelphia, and by Kimberly Lambert Adams of the Pensacola, Fla. firm of Levin Papantonio Thomas Mitchell Rafferty & Proctor. The case is in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Source: Law360.com

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