Panel to Consider Consolidation of Zoloft Birth Defects Lawsuits
A U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is scheduled to meet in San Diego to discuss whether a number of Zoloft birth defects lawsuits should be consolidated for pretrial proceedings.
Reportedly, there are dozens of lawsuits currently pending against Pfizer, Inc., the maker of the SSRI antidepressant drug Zoloft. The numerous plaintiffs claim that Zoloft caused severe birth defects in children who were born to women who used Zoloft while pregnant. The lawsuits also allege that Pfizer was aware of the potential for serious side effects associated with the drug but failed to adequately warn consumers of the risks.
Pfizer is in favor of consolidating the cases and on March 22nd, the company reportedly filed a supplemental brief stating that the number of Zoloft birth defects lawsuits has increased by 60% since the initial request for consolidation was filed. On January 18, 2012, Pfizer filed a motion to transfer 59 cases to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, arguing that the cases should be consolidated to reduce costs and streamline the proceedings. Additional motions have been filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys asking that the cases be transferred to courts in Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Clinical research studies have linked selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to numerous birth defects, including spina bifida, cleft palate, heart defects, lung defects and cranial malformations. Zoloft, in particular, has been linked to serious deformations of the heart as well as a condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), which can potentially lead to congestive heart failure if not treated properly. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an updated safety communication advising patients of the risk of PPHN associated with Zoloft. Other possible Zoloft birth defects include club foot, neural tube defects, limb defects and anal atresia.
The hearing to determine whether a Zoloft MDL will be established is currently scheduled for the end of May. At that time, members of the federal judicial panel will hear arguments from both sides regarding the establishment of the multidistrict litigation and the choice of venue. A decision about whether the MDL will be created is expected to be handed down in the weeks following the hearing.
While the number of Zoloft birth defects lawsuits pending in federal courts across the country is relatively low, it has been suggested that the number could grow. In December 2011, the FDA issued another safety update concerning SSRI antidepressants which stated that research data concerning possible side effects was inconclusive. The communication advised women who were pregnant or who could become pregnant to speak with their doctor before starting or stopping treatment for depression involving SSRI medications.
Women who used Zoloft or another SSRI antidepressant while pregnant may be entitled to compensation if their child was born with a serious defect. If you or a loved one believes that your child’s birth defects may have been caused by Zoloft, you need to contact an experienced SSRI birth defects attorney to discuss your rights.
Nadrich & Cohen, LLP is currently investigating Zoloft birth defects claims in all 50 states. For more information on filing an SSRI birth defects lawsuit, call 1-800-718-4658 to begin your free initial case evaluation. There is never a fee unless damages are recovered on your behalf.