Andrea Dearden Jul. 8, 2013, 7:17am

A Florida woman is suing a Chicago-based pharmaceutical company claiming the antidepressant it manufactures caused birth defects in her daughter.

Daysi Velazquez-Cabrera, on behalf of her minor daughter, filed a lawsuit May 31 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Pfizer Inc., Greenstone LLC, formerly known as Greenstone Ltd., and Roerig S.A. Pfizer R&D Cortex District, a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc., is also named as a defendant.

According to the complaint, Velazquez-Cabrera was prescribed the antidepressant Zoloft during her pregnancy despite the alleged known risk of side effects associated with taking the drug while pregnant. Velazquez-Cabrera claims her daughter was born with medical defects, including significant damage to her heart.

Velazquez-Cabrera alleges Pfizer, Greenstone, Roerig and Pfizer R&D knew the dangers of Zoloft but hid the information showing the risks of taking the antidepressant during pregnancy. She contends the drug was defectively designed, inadequately tested and then marketed without proper warnings of birth defects that are possible with its use.

Velazquez-Cabrera accuses the defendants of negligence, fraud and failing to warn the public. She asks for more than $300,000 in damages and court fees.

Pfizer countered with a statement saying the company would defend the litigation:

"Zoloft has been prescribed to millions of patients for the treatment of depression and other serious and often debilitating psychiatric conditions," the statement reads.

"It carries accurate, science-based and FDA-approved information on its benefits and risks, including its use in pregnant women, to assist physicians in making appropriate, patient-specific decisions. As recently as December 2011, the FDA issued further guidance regarding the SSRI class of anti-depressants that includes Zoloft, advising health care professionals ‘not to alter their current clinical practice of treating depression during pregnancy.’ The company stands by our medicine and we intend to vigorously defend it.”

Attorney John J. Driscoll of St. Louis represents the plaintiff.

St. Clair County Circuit Court Case No. 13-L-272

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