Jim Boyle May 8, 2014, 7:58am


A North Carolina couple has filed a federal lawsuit at U.S. District Court in Philadelphia against the makers of Effexor, an anti-depressant that they claim caused birth defects in their infant son.

Amy Cornett and Luke Dean, of Buncombe County, N.C., claim that Philadelphia-based Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and its parent company, Pfizer, knowingly failed to disclose the harmful effects of the drug if taken during a pregnancy. They claim the companies are liable for negligence, failure to warn consumers of design defects in the drug, and fraud. They seek a statutory claim of at least $75,000, plus punitive damages and court costs.

According to the complaint, Cornett began taking Effexor during her pregnancy at doctor's orders. Cornett says if she and her physician were made aware of possible side effects for the fetus, she would not have taken the drug.

When her son was born in 2007, he was diagnosed with several congenital conditions, including heart defects and optic nerve atrophy. The couple claims the birth defects are a result of ingesting the drug.

The couple alleges that Wyeth and Pfizer knew about the dangers of ingesting the drug for pregnant women, but did not properly disclose that information in packaging and marketing materials.

On the market since 1993, Effexor's possible link to birth defects and illnesses in infants have recently been explored. The first lawsuit was filed in 2012 in Philadelphia by an Ohio woman whose daughter was born with severe heart defects and died shortly after birth. Since 2013, all Effexor suits have been consolidated to the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court.

The couple is represented by Timothy Becker of Minnesota-based Johnson Becker, PLLC.

The federal case ID number is: 2:14-cv-02591-CMR

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