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Pfizer Files Petition for Zoloft Lawsuit MDL

On January 18, 2012, Pfizer, the manufacturer of the antidepressant drug Zoloft, filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation requesting that 59 lawsuits be consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). Pfizer requested that the MDL, which would incorporate cases in which plaintiffs allege that their children suffer birth defects from Zoloft, be headquartered in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The company suggested alternate locations of the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, and also the Northern District of Ohio.

Purpose of a consolidated Zoloft lawsuit MDL

If Zoloft litigation were centralized, one federal judge would oversee pre-trial processes for all the cases, in the hope of making the process as efficient and economical as possible.

If Pfizer’s request to create a Zoloft MDL were granted, Zoloft lawsuit plaintiffs with similar allegations – for instance, that use of the drug during pregnancy causes Zoloft birth defects – would be considered simultaneously. Furthermore, Pfizer argues that the MDL would help streamline the litigation process by preventing duplication of the discovery process across multiple cases.

Lawsuits allege Zoloft birth defects

Many plaintiffs seeking Zoloft lawsuit settlements claim that Pfizer failed to warn consumers and medical professionals regarding the risk of Zoloft side effects.

Zoloft is an antidepressant medication in the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drug class, and has been linked to several birth defects. In 2005, a Danish study revealed that women taking SSRIs during the first trimester of pregnancy showed a 60 percent increased risk of giving birth to children with birth defects.

In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning regarding Zoloft persistent pulmonary hypertension of a newborn (Zoloft PPHN). Since 2006, conflicting information has arisen, and the FDA has reconsidered whether Zoloft should carry this warning.

Zoloft birth defects cited in lawsuits include not only Zoloft PPHN, but also ventricular septal defects (VSD), atrial septal defects (AS), omphalocele, craniosynostosis, neural tube defects, and developmental delays.

Moving forward with Zoloft side effects MDL

Pfizer’s request to create the Zoloft MDL in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York comes as a result of the district’s proximity to Pfizer’s corporate headquarters.

Additionally, this district has hosted more than 100 MDLs since 1977. However, 48 of the 59 current pending Zoloft lawsuits are currently filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

On May 31, 2012, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will hear the argument for Zoloft multidistrict litigation, and will determine whether the MDL should be created.

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