Did you know the popular antidepressant Wellbutrin (generic: bupropion) has been linked to a high number of skeletal, neural tube, heart and limb birth defects? Studies have shown that the dangers of Wellbutrin and other similar antidepressants are higher if the drugs are taken in the first trimester of pregnancy, a time when many women may still be unaware that they are pregnant. If your child suffers from a birth defect you feel may have been caused by Wellbutrin, you may be able to pursue compensation through filing a Wellbutrin birth defects lawsuit.
Wellbutrin Birth Defects Lawsuit Review: If you or somebody you know has a child that has been diagnosed with a birth defect related to Wellbutrin, you should contact our lawyers immediately. Consultations are always free. Please use our confidential email contact form or call toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.
Which birth defects have been linked to Wellbutrin?
According to mounting evidence and numerous case studies, Wellbutrin is reported to have an increased risk of the following birth defects in newborns if their mothers took the drug before or during pregnancy:
- Atrial Septal Defects
- Ventricular Septal Defects
- Ebstein’s Anomaly
- Mitral Valve Prolapse
- Transposition of the Great Arteries
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
- Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS)
- Tricuspid Valve Stenosis
- Tricuspid Atresia
- Aortic Stenosis
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
- Coarctation of the Aorta
- Truncus Arteriosus
- Heart Murmur
- Pulmonary Stenosis
- Pulmonary Atresia
- Gastroschisis – abdominal wall defect
- Esophageal Stenosis
- Esophageal Atresia
- Anal Atresia
- Spina Bifida
- Neural Tube Defects
- Hand Malformations
- Cleft Lip
- Cleft Palate
- Fetal Death
- Growth Retardation
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
- Mental Retardation
- Down Syndrome
- Dandy Walker Syndrome
- Undescended Testicles
- Cloacal Exstrophy
- Heart Malformations
In many cases, Wellbutrin was specifically prescribed to pregnant women, as major depression is extremely common among females of reproductive age. Wellbutrin has also commonly been prescribed to pregnant women to quit smoking. The availability of data regarding such treatments in expecting mothers is extremely limited, leaving the safety of prescribing Wellbutrin to pregnant women highly speculative.
Bupropion Pregnancy Registry
In 1997, GSK initiated the Bupropion Pregnancy Registry in order to study the outcomes of pregnancies in which the woman took Wellbutrin or Zyban. The company determined that nearly 4% of babies born to mothers who took the drugs during pregnancy had congenital abnormalities. The majority of the study’s reports were from physicians providing care during the actual pregnancy, so birth defects not discovered shortly after birth may have been significantly underreported. According to the research, Wellbutrin heart defects were present in 1.3% of the pregnancies identified in the registry.
The FDA currently ranks Wellbutrin in Pregnancy Category C, which means that animal studies have indicated that maternal use of the drug can lead to congenital defects. According to the administration, medications in Pregnancy Category C should only be taken if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
NBDPS Study on Wellbutrin
The National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS) is an ongoing analysis of risk factors for over 30 categories of serious congenital birth defects. The NBDPS analyzed the association between Wellbutrin and Zyban use and cardiac birth defects from 1997 to 2004. The research involved nearly 13,000 babies (6,853 of which were diagnosed with a major heart abnormality and 5,763 who had non-cardiac birth defects), and found a definitive link between Wellbutrin and congenital birth defects.
Manufactured and marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Wellbutrin (bupropion) is an FDA-approved antidepressant typically prescribed to treat the symptoms of major depressive disorders. Wellbutrin is also commonly prescribed in a so-called ‘off-label’ capacity (for which it was neither tested nor approved by the FDA) to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Bupropion is also sold under the brand name Zyban as an anti-smoking drug.
How Does Wellbutrin Work?
Antidepressants like Wellbutrin work by increasing neurotransmitter levels in the brain, thereby regulating mood, sleep and appetite patterns. Wellbutrin controls the rate at which the brain’s synapses reabsorb (reuptake) released chemicals such that they remain in the synaptic gap for an extended period of time, theoretically improving the patient’s thought patterns. In addition to Wellbutrin, there are a number of other similar (but not identical) antidepressants on the market including Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa. Taking any of these drugs during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects.
It is important to note that Wellbutrin is part of the aminoketone class of antidepressants, and is chemically different from other such medications on the market. Unlike antidepressants from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class that target the neurotransmitter serotonin, Wellbutrin acts on the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. Because of its unique makeup, Wellbutrin may also have different side effects in users, and it may work for patients who have had no success with other antidepressants.
Side Effects of Wellbutrin
In addition to the increased risk for birth defects, Wellbutrin has also been found to be associated with the following side effects in users:
- suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- manic episodes
Wellbutrin was removed from the U.S. market in 1986 due to a high number of seizures reported in patients, but was reintroduced in 1989 after federal reviewers determined that the seizures were dose specific and lowered the daily dosage of the medication.
Wellbutrin Birth Defects Information
If you are interested in more information about Wellbutrin birth defects litigation, please fill out the confidential contact form below and a member of our experienced staff will call you to discuss your potential rights pertaining to Wellbutrin. Our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means there are never any costs or fees unless we achieve a favorable outcome in your case.
Is there a time limit in filing a Wellbutrin birth defects lawsuit?
Although we encourage all our potential clients to take great care in selecting their Wellbutrin lawyer, it is important that you understand that time is of the essence. The applicable statute of limitations in your state may time bar your claim. Furthermore, we are unable to provide you with legal advice without first evaluating your potential case. Accordingly, please take the time now to contact us by using the confidential email contact form below or by calling us toll free 24 hrs/day by dialing (866) 588-0600.
We hope we will be able to assist you with your potential Wellbutrin birth defects lawsuit and look forward to speaking with you.
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