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Zoloft Birth Defect Litigation Moving Forward

Filed May 18th, 2012 Laurie

An initial conference has been scheduled for this summer in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) established for all birth defect lawsuits over the antidepressant drug Zoloft. A pretrial order was issued on May 4 by U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, who is presiding over the Zoloft birth defect MDL.

Judge Rufe also scheduled an initial status conference for Thursday, July 12. At that time, an attorney will appear on behalf of each party, prepared to “suggest procedures that will facilitate the expeditious, economical and just resolution of this litigation,” according to Judge Rufe’s order.

As of April 17, when the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized the Zoloft MDL before Judge Rufe in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, nearly 100 lawsuits had been filed in U.S. district courts on behalf of children born with birth defects caused by Zoloft, after their mothers took the drug during pregnancy.

The lawsuits allege that Pfizer, the manufacturer of Zoloft, failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community about the risks of taking the antidepressant during pregnancy. Plaintiffs claim their children suffered serious birth defects, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), spina bifida, heart defects, lung defects, abdominal defects, cranial defects and other malformations.

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