ST. LOUIS - Three women are accusing a drug manufacturer of lying about the effects of an anti-depressant on pregnant women and their unborn children. The women claim their children were born with various birth defects, including spina bifida and a club foot, because of the prescription drug.

Kimberlee Fisher, Kristy Hernandez and Leah Scott filed three separate lawsuits Feb. 16 in St. Louis Circuit Court against Forest Laboratories and Forest Pharmaceuticals.

The women are represented by Steven Aroesty of Napoli, Bern, Ripka, Shkolnik and Associates in Edwardsville.

In their complaints, Fisher, Hernandez and Scott allege they ingested the anti-depressant Lexapro while they were pregnant with their children, Isabella, Kayla and Damien Guidry, respectively. When Isabella was born on Nov. 23, 2009, she was diagnosed with spina bifida, which was the result of the Lexapro, according to the complaint. Kayla had a club foot when she was born on Aug. 6, 2010 while Guidry had a bilateral cleft lip and palette upon his arrival on Dec. 28, 2007, the suit states.

Lexapro was developed by Forest. At the time Kimberlee Fisher, Kristy Hernandez and Leah Scott took the drug, Forest knew of its propensity to cause congenital birth defects, perhaps because of the increased levels of serotonin that Lexapro promotes, the suits state.

Despite its knowledge of the drug's risks to pregnant women and their children, Forest promoted Lexapro toward women of child-bearing age, including expectant mothers, the complaints say.

Kimberlee Fisher, Kristy Hernandez and Leah Scott claim they did not know of the drug's harmful effects until after their daughters were born. They would not have been aware of the risks because Forest negligently failed to fully disclose the results of tests it had conducted and failed to warn the medical community that the drug would cross the placenta into the unborn fetus, according to the complaints.

Kimberlee Fisher, Kristy Hernandez and Leah Scott allege Forest failed to warn them and others of the risks of the drug, breached its express warranty and its implied warranty by implying that the drug was safe for pregnant women when it was not and engaged in fraud by denying any connection between the anti-depressant and birth defects.

"In flagrant and conscious disregard and indifference, Forest Defendants have denied publicly that any connection between Lexapro and birth defects exists, and have failed utterly to take any measures whatsoever to alert the public, the prescribing physicians, and the patients who take it, of the incipient dangers associated with Lexapro," the suits state.

In their complaints, Kimberlee Fisher, Kristy Hernandez and Leah Scott seek general damages in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of St. Louis Circuit Court, plus medical costs, pre- and post-judgment interest, punitive and exemplary damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

St. Louis Circuit Court case numbers: 12-L-859, 12-L-858, 12-L-857.

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