Did You Take Zofran While You Were Pregnant?
Lawsuits against pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline claim that the use of anti-nausea medication Zofran during pregnancy can lead to birth defects. According to the plaintiffs, the pharmaceutical company failed to warn doctors and patients of the risks. Although the drug wasn’t approved for use during pregnancy, doctors frequently prescribed it to expectant mothers to help with morning sickness.
What Is Zofran?
Zofran is a brand name for ondansetron. It is a drug that is used to alleviate nausea in patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Patients can take the medication intravenously or via pill.
Although the drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this approval doesn’t extend to use by pregnant women. However, many doctors have prescribed the pill form of Zofran to expectant mothers as a means of relieving nausea from morning sickness. Doctors were permitted to prescribe Zofran for this purpose, but pharmaceutical companies are legally unable to promote this application for Zofran.
Subsequently, GlaxoSmithKline has come under fire for promoting Zofran as a way to treat symptoms of morning sickness in pregnant women and failing to notify doctors and patients of the risks, prompting the recent lawsuits.
Birth Defects Linked to Zofran Use During Pregnancy
Zofran can cause a number of side effects in users, including headaches, lightheadedness, itchiness, and more. It can also increase the risk of irregular heartbeat and birth defects.
One birth defect that has been linked to Zofran use during pregnancy is a cleft palate. This defect develops when the tissues forming the roof of an infant’s mouth don’t join, resulting in a hole in the child’s mouth that opens into the nose. A cleft palate can lead to problems with speech, hearing, and feeding, along with ear infections. In many cases, it requires surgery to correct.
Congenital Heart Defects
Another birth defect that may develop after using Zofran while pregnant is a congenital heart defect. There are many types of congenital heart defects that can affect children, several of which can even cause death in newborns within weeks after birth. Others can take years to detect.
Heart defects may include:
- Single ventricle defects — Undeveloped pumping chambers in the heart.
- Atrial or ventricle septal defects — Defects in the walls that separate the main chambers of the heart.
If expectant mothers took Zofran while pregnant and their child suffered birth injuries, they may be able to recover damages from GlaxoSmithKline.