Zoloft Users Allegedly Duped by Pfizer

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New Orleans, LASome 20 million prescriptions for the antidepression drug Zoloft are written in the US every year. Now a new class-action lawsuit alleges that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has known for years that the drug does little to nothing to relieve the symptoms of depression and is demanding that Pfizer provides refunds to hundreds of thousands of Zoloft users.

The 50-page lawsuit, filed in United States District Court in California and brought on behalf of consumers nationwide, is a damning compilation of evidence, describing in detail how Pfizer “concocted a comprehensive and aggressive scheme to mislead consumers and healthcare professionals about Zoloft’s efficacy.”

“In promoting the drug, they did not adequately represent all the facts,” says New Orleans attorney Chris Coffin from Pendley, Baudin & Coffin, whose firm represents the class. “Pzifer has not given the full picture of the drug to consumers or to healthcare providers.”

Zoloft was approved for sale in 1991, after Pfizer produced two studies showing that the drug had “a statistically significant effect.” Although the FDA was concerned that there were many studies that showed Zoloft was only marginally better than a placebo drug, it finally gave Zoloft the go-ahead in the US.

“Obviously two drugs trials showed that the drug outperformed the placebo and that’s what the FDA looks at,” says Coffin. “However, when you read all the information, you can’t help but question whether Zoloft really is an effective drug in the treatment of depression.”

Pfizer is a leader in the antidepressant industry and the company has revenues of $64 billion a year. Much of the drugmaker’s success is due to its sales of Zoloft.

According to the documents filed with the court in California, Pfizer was only too aware from the beginning that Zoloft, generically known as seratraline hydrocholoride, did little to relieve depression. The company then systematically went about finding ways to “deliberately mislead consumers and health care professionals about the efficacy of Zoloft.”

First, the company made sure that prescription labels contained no information to suggest there were any contradictory studies, and then went about trying to position Zoloft as the recognized number-one antidepression drug.

Next, it contracted medical ghostwriters to author articles for prestigious medical journals and paid well-known researchers to allow their names to be attached to the material while concealing Pfizer’s involvement in the material.

And, also, according to the statement of claim, Pfizer spent “millions of dollars on direct-to-consumer advertising and physician-targeted sales aids designed to convince consumers and healthcare professionals” that Zoloft worked.

Although there are doubts about Zoloft as an answer to depression, its potential side effects are well documented. The list of potential problems includes nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, headaches, weight loss, constipation, vision changes, allergic reactions, high blood pressure, muscle pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and more.

Zoloft has also been connected to serious birth defects. Coffin’s firm has represented and currently represents families of children born with Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) after their mothers’ use of Zoloft during pregnancy. Newborns with PPHN have constricted arteries in their lungs, which seriously limits the amount of oxygen that is able to pass into the bloodstream. As many as one in five PPHN babies dies.

Given the potential health risks associated with Zoloft compared to its apparent lack of effectiveness, the statement of claim argues that consumers of the drug should have been fully and completely informed in order to decide whether taking the drug was worth the risk.

It is estimated that since 1991, American consumers have spent approximately $30 billion on Zoloft in the US alone.

Not only does the suit ask that Pfizer return the cost of prescriptions to consumers, it also demands that Pfizer cease marketing Zoloft as an antidepressant.

Pfizer has yet to respond to the allegations in the suit and the suit has not yet been certified.

Chris Coffin is a partner with Pendley, Baudin & Coffin. He focuses on litigating complex cases involving defective pharmaceuticals and medical devices, environmental contamination, product liability, toxic torts and consumer fraud claims. Coffin has been heavily involved in multiple class-action and mass tort cases throughout the United States, and has served as a leader in many national lawsuits representing thousands of individuals. As the leader of the firm’s pharmaceutical and medical device litigation practice, Chris Coffin has prosecuted cases against pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers for over nine years, and has been licensed as a registered nurse for approximately 15 years.

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Reader Comments

Posted by

I have been on Zoloft this time 4 almost 2 years and I am not getting any better as a matter of fact my depression is worse I do suffer from dry mouth I have been having migraines I was just put on medication for the migraines. Sumatriptan Tablets 50 mg. Which I'm afraid to take because of its horrendous side effects I also have ringing in my ears from time to time. I am so sick and tired of given medication that does more harm than good like Cymbalta I'm part of that class action lawsuit Lyrica should be on that list of harmful drugs. My Zoloft dosage has been increase supposedly to the highest level 100 milligrams my appetite is a job because I really don't care to eat, sleeping is now another issue maybe get 4 hours a night I am on other medications for chronic pain severe nerve damage acid reflux and I take prescription vitamin D because I live in Seattle and we don't get enough sunshine. I say enough is enough we are not Lab Rats or some kind of experiment just for the almighty dollar what a Dirty Shame the drug industry has made billions on are suffering

Posted by

I have been on zoloft for many years now and have multiple medical problems from dry mouth, dizzyness, skin outbreaks, kidney problems etc. Migrains are the least of my problems. I am wondering now if I should have zoloft taken off of my medication lists and that would solve a lot of my problems.

Posted by

My husband became a zombie on this medication and he almost completely shut down. It's also changed his personality for the worse and he's now left our 10 year marriage. Before this he was a kind and sensitive man. This drug should be taken off the market!

Posted by

I took Zoloft for several years for deep depression. It nearly totally destroyed my marriage of 15+ years. First medication I took for depression. Made me worse - to the point where I did not like my husband, kids or myself!

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