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MDL Ordered for Zoloft Birth Defect Lawsuits

Filed April 20th, 2012 Laurie

A panel of federal judges has ordered that all Zoloft birth defect lawsuits filed in federal district courts throughout the country will be consolidated as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized the cases before U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

There are 57 different lawsuits filed in six different federal districts nationwide. There are also over 35 other cases pending that will also be transferred to the MDL.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuits are families of children born with severe birth defects or malformations after their mothers took the antidepressant Zoloft during pregnancy. They allege the drug maker Pfizer failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community about the risk of side effects associated with Zoloft.

Exposure to Zoloft and other similar antidepressants, called SSRIs, has been linked to serious and life-threatening
conditions in babies, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), spina bifida, heart defects, lung defects, abdominal defects, cranial defects and other malformations. The drug was introduced in 1991 to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety.

By 2007, Zoloft had become the most-prescribed antidepressant in the United States.

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