This is why I hate lawyers

December 18th, 2011
submit to reddit Share

SSRI’s or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor’s are used as anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs. They’re often regarded as about the safest drugs we have, since it’s almost impossible to overdose on them and the negative long term health effects seem to be negligible. However, there has been some concern expressed about their safety during pregnancy.

A number of studies have been conducted on the use of various SSRI drugs during various stages of pregnancy and breast feeding. The majority of the studies done have not found any harmful effects of the use of SSRI’s on developing fetuses or infants who breastfeed. While these drugs do pass through the placenta, the concentration of exposure is at least two thirds less for the developing fetus than for the mother.

However, one study, done in 2007, did find a slight increase in a few birth defects in mothers who received relatively high doses of certain SSRI medications during the first trimester of their pregnancy. The study did not find any significant increase in overall odds of most birth defects, but did find an increase in a few birth defects, such as certain cardiac defects. Still, the total risk remains tiny with or without SSRI’s, and while the increase was greater than the statistical error of the study, confounding factors cannot be ruled out, such as the possibility that depressed mothers might have less healthy babies for a variety of reasons.

You can read the entire study here.

The reception of the study in the medical community was generally more one of reassurance than concern. While it indicated that there was at least a possibility that a few narrow birth defects might possibly be associated with SSRI’s, the overall risk is very low. Interestingly, the study did not find that these risks increased for all types of SSRI drugs. Zoloft and Paxil did appear to produce slight increases in some birth defects, but Prozac, Lexapro and other antidepressants did not produce any detectable increase in any birth defects.

Given that the risks are not completely proven and appear to be extremely low, the Mayo Clinic says the following about the use of antidepressants during pregnancy:

Overall, the risk of birth defects and other problems for babies of mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy is low. Still, few medications have been proved safe without question during pregnancy and some types of antidepressants have been associated with health problems in babies.

It should also be noted that these slight increases in risk have been speculated about since before the 2007 study, and most women who received the drugs during pregnancy would have been told (or should have been told) by their doctor that the possibility existed that there could be a small increase in some birth defects.

Now enter the lawyers. Lets say, you happen to have had a child with a common and minor birth defect, like a cleft lip or a club foot, both of which are fairly common and correctable. You might have just put your child’s foot in a brace or taken them for minor plastic surgery and then thought nothing of it. Well, if you happen to have been taking an anti-depressent, there are lawyers out there who want to be sure you don’t just go on with your life without giving them a crack at the drug companies. And they’re paying for advertising to make sure you know.





These are just two of the many ads now being run by law firms hoping to get a cut of a settlement.

Also, to be clear: Most of the conditions listed in the above ad have never been associated with Paxil or Zoloft, and it’s pure speculation that they would have any effect on those conditions simply because they MAY have effects on other conditions. Also, most of the drugs listed have, despite extensive study, never been linked to ANY birth defect. They are in the same class as the drugs Paxil and Zoloft, but it is pure speculation to think that because they have a similar mechanism of action that they MIGHT have an effect, even despite the fact that all studies to date have shown they do not and that the drugs that they are related to have not been linked to the conditions listed.

Worse still, there are several ads now running (sorry I could not find a video) that are saying the same thing about autistic children, despite there being not a shred of evidence that SSRI’s during pregnancy would have an impact on the probability of a child developing autism. It seems to be some kind of assumption that if some do possibly increase the risk of some birth defects then they must all cause autism.

Go figure…

Sorry, to say “I hate lawyers” is a rather rash and harsh statement, but this stuff really makes me sick.


This entry was posted on Sunday, December 18th, 2011 at 2:58 am and is filed under Bad Science, Culture, media, Misc. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
View blog reactions

14 Responses to “This is why I hate lawyers”

  1. 1
    Karen Says:

    I find this very concerning. Depression can be worse than just being sad. When people are depressed they don’t take good care of themselves and don’t get the food, exercise, medicine they need. A pregnant woman who is badly depressed could be at risk of not having a healthy baby because she would be prone to problems stemming from the lifestyle of depression.

    The decision to use an antidepressant can be very helpful and it must be made between her and the doctor and with an understanding of the risk and risk of not taking it.

    I have seen advertisements like this.

    It could scare someone away from medicine that will really make the risk less if it treats the depression.

    This is an important medical decision to make and you must trust your doctor over the television to give you the info you need.


    Quote Comment
  2. 2
    DV82XL Says:

    I saw one these ads for the first time yesterday and I was very angry, mostly because it seemed targeted to someone who was both depressed and the parent of a child with birth defects. This is particularly harsh as I knew the mother of a Thalidomide victim and the guilt that poor woman suffered was terrible and to see someone try to leverage this is disgusting.


    Quote Comment
  3. 3
    Soylent Says:

    The funniest tax ever implemented was the stamp act; the main target of which was newspaper publishers and lawyers. There are few people in this world with more time and well honed ability to bitch and moan than those two groups of people.


    Quote Comment
  4. 4
    Jim Baerg Says:

    Can we something where if the lawsuit is sufficiently unfounded, as in these cases, the lawyers are fined everything they own?


    Quote Comment
  5. 5
    Russ Says:

    I have seen many of these commercials and they really steam me. They always phrase them as an ‘alert’ or ‘important information as if it is a public service.

    They constantly run ones for asbestos litigation. Originally they only went after mesothelioma, which at least makes sense since if you have mesothelioma it probably came from asbestos (it’s a form of cancer that is very very rare in non-asbestos exposure circumstances.) Now they have brodened it to appeal to anyone with lung cancer who worked in an industry that might have used asbestos (automotive, marine, plumbing, construction, manufacturing etc etc).

    Asbestos might increase the risk of lung cancer but only a tiny proportion of lung cancers would come from asbestos. Far and away the biggest cause is smoking.

    There is no concern for whether it actually is a valid reason to sue. It’s just looking for money.

    These are worse than ambulance-chasers. Remember what happened with breast implants. These can ruin whole industries and destroy the retirements of thousands.


    Quote Comment
  6. 6
    Jason C Says:

    These commercials are awful but so are the ads pushing prescription drugs on TV. Certain airtime slots are so saturated with those ads, it makes TV unwatchable. Medical doctors hate these ads because patients come in with ideas about what they should be prescribed. Hard to say which set of ads preys upon the general public worse.


    Quote Comment
  7. 7
    I'mnotreallyhere Says:

    I wholly endorse SSRIs as a delicious answer to the cool mental illness of depression.

    Some may see the joke as crass, but as a recovering depressive who took SSRIs for most of this year I need to be able to poke some fun at it – the last thing we should be doing with depression treatment is seeing it as a taboo subject.

    I completely agree with Karen’s message that being without SSRIs is probably more of a risk, given the ease with which one can drop into a routine of not look after oneself properly.

    I’ve not read the full report, but from Steve’s digest I’m shocked that the comparison made appears to be of depressed SSRI takers against healthy non-SSRI takers, it seems somewhat inconclusive as a comparison. Obviously depression is a very hard thing to quantify objectively and few healthy mothers would willingly take part in a trial of the impact of SSRIs on their unborn baby. So we might have to wait for some decent conclusions to this one.

    In other news, on the subject of drug-related advertising, I was surprised last night when watching some video reviews online – the pre-video advertising was a French government health department one about reducing anti-biotic usage and making sure not to take them to deal with viruses (where they’ll serve no purpose) but to reserve them for bacterial infections (where they’ll be useful) to ensure that the evolution of resistant strains is reduced.

    It was of course incredibly daft and naff, as all French and/or government advertising is, but interesting that they’re publicly making the effort on the overuse of antibiotics issue.


    Quote Comment
  8. 8
    MrNiceguy Says:

            Jason C said:

    These commercials are awful but so are the ads pushing prescription drugs on TV. Certain airtime slots are so saturated with those ads, it makes TV unwatchable. Medical doctors hate these ads because patients come in with ideas about what they should be prescribed. Hard to say which set of ads preys upon the general public worse.

    I recently saw a well-done parody of a pharmaceutical ad that read, “Ask your doctor about taking medical advice from TV commercials.”


    Quote Comment
  9. 9
    antidepressant birth defects Says:

    Well… things need nuance. First of all the scientific studies show there’s a low risk of giving birth to a baby with birth defects, a low risk is a risk nonetheless. I don’t think you should be so angry about lawyers since the lawsuits are based on precedents. If there’s something wrong in all this, that should be the law. But that’s another discussion…


    Quote Comment
  10. 10
    drbuzz0 Says:

            antidepressant birth defects said:

    Well… things need nuance. First of all the scientific studies show there’s a low risk of giving birth to a baby with birth defects, a low risk is a risk nonetheless. I don’t think you should be so angry about lawyers since the lawsuits are based on precedents. If there’s something wrong in all this, that should be the law. But that’s another discussion…

    I was about to delete this comment, because it seems like the kind a bot would leave, but on closer inspection it does actually look like it has some level of insight to the debate that is worthy of responding to. Hence it shall stay, because my policy is that I never want to be called for having a weak argument I can’t defend.

    My response to the studies is this: I do not believe the study data supports the extent of the claims being made. What it shows is a small risk increase for Lexapro, but not for Zoloft or Paxil. It is not scientifically justified to say that all the drugs in this family cause any increase in birth defects. At the very least, the drugs for which the evidence indicates that they don’t should be omitted from any list. These drugs all have a similar mechanism of action but they’re chemically distinct and they can have different secondary effects and different biological distribution.

    Similarly, the scientific data does not support the claim that these drugs increase the chances of all the birth defects listed. They may increase the risk of some cardiac defects. But there’s no evidence they play any role in spina bifida or other neural tube defects, cleft lip and pallet or any number of other birth defects listed.

    If a mother took Paxil and her baby has a cleft lip, there’s not a shred of scieitific data to indicate any relationship there.

    Now as for the ones that might cause birth defects, my assessment of the data on those is that it’s still a little shaky. There increase is small and there are some possible confounding factors, so I would say that this is at the point where the sum of the scientific evidence is still not great enough to say conclusively.

    I’m not a lawyer, but as I understand the burden for civil decisions is what the sum probability that harm was caused is. I’m not sure whether the scientific data reaches that point. One must consider that these conditions do happen from time to time, with or without the drugs being used.

    The other thing that has to be questioned is whether the drugs, even if they do rarely cause these defects, are something the makers can be held liable for. My own belief (and I don’t know what the law is on this, this is just what I’d advocate) is that a drug maker should not be held responsible for side effects that are their products may cause if they were known to the patient and accepted or if the effect is not discovered despite every reasonable precaution being taken.

    In other words, if a doctor offers me a drug and cautions me that on very rare occasions, some people have an allergic reaction and die, then if I die from an allergic reaction to the drug, it’s not the drug makers fault. That danger was known and I accepted it when I took the drug.

    I also don’t think it’s the drug makers fault if some effect escapes discovery despite every reasonable measure being taken to test the drug. So if a drug is tested to the highest standards of clinical safety, but many years later, it is discovered that the drug can increase the risks of cancer by 2% when taken for 20+ years, I do not blame the drug maker. They did all reasonable things to make a safe drug and it’s impossible to every be 100% sure that the

    I can see two circumstances where a drug maker should be held liable for damages.

    1. They willfully failed to subject the drug to appropriate levels of testing and safety assessments.
    2. They knew the drug had a danger but failed to disclose it or attempted to discourage doctors from informing patients or something like that.

    I don’t see anyone providing evidence that either of those happened.

    But there is definitely a valid point made by the previous commenter: The law firms that run these ads are within their rights and they are using the system as it is designed and established. This is common practice and if there’s money to be made doing something, someone will do it.

    I do believe our legal system has really gone too far to offering the opportunity to make money on questionable lawsuits and that’s something that legislators need to tackle. They’re the ones who are really to blame (did I mention I am running for Congress?)

    On the other hand, the National Trial Lawyers Association and other entities that represent law firms are very powerful lobby groups.

    One thing that has always bothered me is the ethical issues with lawyers who actively troll for clients in this manner. My belief is that if you believe you have been wronged and are entitled to compensation, you should seek out a lawyer to help you, but that it should not be the other way around. The lawyer should not be actively seeking out clients who otherwise would not file suit.


    Quote Comment
  11. 11
    Matthew Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    But there is definitely a valid point made by the previous commenter: The law firms that run these ads are within their rights and they are using the system as it is designed and established.

    This is common practice and if there’s money to be made doing something, someone will do it.

    I do believe our legal system has really gone too far to offering the opportunity to make money on questionable lawsuits and that’s something that legislators need to tackle. They’re the ones who are really to blame (did I mention I am running for Congress?)

    On the other hand, the National Trial Lawyers Association and other entities that represent law firms are very powerful lobby groups.

    Issues like this, where a lot of marginal cases are launched, with the jackpot payoff on a couple making the others worth it for the lawyers involved (working on contingency for a percentage), are why I like the idea of tort reform to limit damages to something high enough to be a problem for a defendant company, but low enough that the business model no longer works. That’s probably the best “bang for your buck”, a small change in the rules affecting the problem in a way that gets rid of the longshot suits and doesn’t penalize someone with an actual case.

    Say any actual damages (medical expenses, etc), plus legal fees, plus something in the low 6 figures (I think Mississipi used $250,000) as additional damages.


    Quote Comment
  12. 12
    Anon Says:

            Matthew said:

    are why I like the idea of tort reform to limit damages to something high enough to be a problem for a defendant company, but low enough that the business model no longer works. That’s probably the best “bang for your buck”, a small change in the rules affecting the problem in a way that gets rid of the longshot suits and doesn’t penalize someone with an actual case.

    Good luck, anything that could seriously hurt a multinational would be more than high enough for that business model to still work (and the whole point of exemplary damages is to hurt the defendant, though some jurisdictions don’t recognise the concept).

            Matthew said:

    Say any actual damages (medical expenses, etc), plus legal fees, plus something in the low 6 figures (I think Mississipi used $250,000) as additional damages.

    Not allowing the lawyer to take any percentage of exemplary damages might be better.


    Quote Comment
  13. 13
    CR Says:

    Back in 1999 I filed for divorce, My lawyer came from a well known Law Firm in my state. They gave me what I thought was a good attorney. After we got our heads handed to us for the third time I asked if she had ever done this before. She did not reply. An hour later I overheard people talking, I found it was her first case. My wife at the time was using drugs heavily (she still is today) And the children (3) were attended to by her fellow drug addicts. I fired my lawyer, but everyone underestimated the extent I would go to, to keep drugs away from my children. Well I upset my family and the lawyers (go figure). For years I was fighting the whole legion of addicts and dealers,Even DCF was a fight for life.After 18 caseworkers I lost count there were more. I did not appose adoption for my children, This was the only way to be sure they would be safe. I only cared for them, Their safety, That they live In a Loving home. The hurt never goes away, Not even for a second.

    I lost my job and left America for ever.I’ll never forget the fear on my children’s faces when in the most horrible situations knowing I could not help. I’ll never forget My EX saying in front of My lawyer that it won’t stop until I put a gun to my head. Or the lies my lawyer told her Boss. When I asked about it she told me (Who is he going to believe, You or Me) Her Boss told me He could smell a lie a mile away. But he could not smell it in his own conference room. I’ll never forget my lawyer telling me she didn’t care if I ate Dog, I have 20 pesos left. In my moment of weakness I even asked them for money. Simply, Her Wish Came True.


    Quote Comment
  14. 14
    Ellen Hughes Says:

    I have worked as a paralegal/legal assistant for 20 years. I worked with great attorneys, mostly contract lawyers. But when my finger got bit off by a dog, I saw a whole different side of the legal spectrum. In my search for justice, I was appalled by the how many attorneys were condescending, ineffective and/or rude. Sometimes it felt I was dealing with a schoolyard bully instead of someone in a industry that normally holds themself above other professions. And then other people started telling me their horror stories.

    Those who have suffered a personal injury have enough on their plate just dealing with the injury and its aftereffects; they shouldn’t have to deal with bad lawyers too. I wrote a book about my experience. However, the major part of my book, Snakebit, helps people successfully navigate their way through a personal injury lawsuit, and manage their attorney in the process. You will learn how to hire, fire and work with attorneys, remembering that you hire them and they work for you — though somehow that fact seems to get lost in many personal injury attorney/client relationships.


    Quote Comment

Leave a Reply

Current month ye@r day *

Please copy the string 7jNFXW to the field below:

*

Protected by WP Anti Spam