Lawsuit forms around anti-depressant

Tuesday, June 3rd 2008, 7:08 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

The first court case involving the controversial anti-depressant Paxil and birth defects has been filed in Oklahoma.

The mother of a Bartlesville toddler allegedly affected by the medication is suing the maker of the drug.

Jennifer Hayes says her two-year-old son, Kade, is not well enough to even play outside with his brothers. She said her full-time job is now to care for her young son.

"He stares out the back window at them, wanting to go play, and run and do the same things they do," Jennifer Hayes, Kade's mother, said. "But if it's too hot, too cold, too windy, his little body just can't take it."

Hayes said Kade can't even drink or eat on his own. She has to feed him through a tube in his stomach.

The first noticeable sings of Kade's problems showed immediately after birth with an irregular heartbeat, she said.

"He had open-heart surgery within 24 hours of birth and several more smaller surgeries that were just kind of a snowball affects from the open-heart surgery," Hayes said.

Hayes now suspects Kade's problems started before birth. When she was pregnant, she was prescribed the drug Paxil for depression.

"My mom had passed away roughly a year earlier, and it was just very hard," Hayes said. "It was the first year of my marriage and it was a very hard time."

In some studies, Paxil has been linked to heart defects in infants born to women who took the drug during pregnancy.

Hayes has filed a lawsuit against the maker, GlaxoSmithKline.

"I have no doubt that Paxil contributed or caused her son's birth defects," Noble McIntyre, Hayes' attorney, said. "The family has no history, no genetic makeup that would suggest there would be any other reason for it."

McIntyre said there are thousands of women like Hayes who have children with birth defects caused by Paxil and they may not even know it.

He says GlaxoSmithKline should bear the responsibility for damages Paxil has caused.

"There are times when someone has to encourage or nudge somebody in the right direction to do the right thing," McIntyre said. "Drug companies have both a legal and ethical duty to manufacture drugs that are safe."

Hayes is hoping the lawsuit pays off for the Hayes family. The family said they have a $3 million cap for Kade's medical insurance and half of that has already been spent.

"I want to make sure that he is taken care of and that no other children have to go through this," Hayes said.

The attorney representing GlaxoSmithKline was out of town and could not respond or comment on the lawsuit.