November 26, 2012 — Women who are seeking information about whether it is safe to take Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) during pregnancy should consult their doctor about the potential risks and benefits. The FDA has classified Pristiq as a “Pregnancy Category C” drug, which means that it might cause birth defects. However, untreated depression can also harm a developing fetus. Women who have used Pristiq during pregnancy and had a baby with a birth defect should contact a lawyer at The Clark Firm, LLP for more information about a potential lawsuit and compensation.
Pristiq is an antidepressant medication in the SNRI class (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor). It treats major depressive disorder by influencing serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters involved in moods and emotions. When a pregnant woman uses Pristiq, the drug dissolves in her bloodstream, and passes through the placenta to her developing baby. Pristiq can also pass through breast-milk to a nursing infant.
Because no studies have been conducted of Pristiq in pregnant women, experts do not understand exactly how Pristiq influences fetal development. Studies of Pristiq in pregnant animals (rats and rabbits) have linked it to an increased risk of fetal death. Therefore, the manufacturer warns that Pristiq should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. The decision about whether to use Pristiq during pregnancy should be discussed with a doctor.
Although more than a dozen scientific studies have linked the use of antidepressants during pregnancy to birth defects, very few studies have focused on the SNRI class of antidepressants specifically. Most studies have involved the SSRIs (such as Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, and Lexapro), because these drugs have been used for decades longer than SNRIs like Pristiq. However, it is possible that the same birth defects associated with SSRIs are also associated with SNRIs because both drugs influence serotonin.
During the first trimester of fetal development, serotonin plays an important role in cell proliferation, migration, differentiation, and death — especially in the heart. Some studies have suggested that antidepressants may increase the risk of birth defects by adversely influencing fetal serotonin signaling during the first trimester.
During the third trimester, the manufacturer of Pristiq warns that it has been linked to severe complications consistent with a “direct toxic effect” of the drug in a fetus. The warning label on Pristiq includes the following risk information:
“Neonates exposed to SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding. Such complications can arise immediately upon delivery.”
If you used Pristiq during pregnancy and your baby had a birth defect, contact a lawyer at The Clark Firm, LLP today. If you decide to file a Pristiq lawsuit, you could potentially receive compensation for your child’s birth defect, medical expenses, permanent disability, future care, and more.
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