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Number of Lawsuits Alleging Zoloft Birth Defects Surpasses 300

Over 300 plaintiffs have chosen to file a birth defects lawsuit after using Zoloft. Their cases allege that birth defects and other injuries occurred as a result of the mothers’ use of the antidepressant medication during pregnancy.

Introduced in 1991 by manufacturer Pfizer, Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is one of the more frequently used medications in the United States. Originally marketed for symptoms of depression, Pfizer received approval to promote Zoloft as a treatment for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety.

Many cases consolidated into the Zoloft MDL seeking compensation

Many cases filed against Pfizer have been consolidated into multidistrict litigation (MDL). This applies to complaints of heart defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the  newborn (PPHN), omphalocele and other problems.

The MDL is designed to streamline the legal process and prevent repetitive rulings as well as other pretrial procedures. Lawsuits in the MDL generally make similar complaints and request similar damages.

It is possible that the manufacturer will seek to reach settlements in some of the cases to prevent going to trial.

Zoloft MDL has grown from 100 cases to 245 between April 2012 and October 2012

Established in April 2012, the Zoloft MDL had less than 100 cases at the time. By October 2012, that number grew to 245 with more cases upcoming.

Judge Cynthia M. Rufe is overseeing the MDL; she is currently involved in the removal of state cases to federal court. To date, there are approximately 70 pending lawsuits in state courts with 43 in Missouri, 17 in Illinois, and 7 in New York.

Judge Rufe issued a Preliminary Discovery Plan on October 17, 2012 outlining the preparations for the MDL. Unless both parties reach agreement, no individual discovery is permitted. All current plaintiffs must file a Plaintiff’s Fact Sheet (PFS) and new plaintiffs must also file the PFS to join the MDL.

The future bellwether trial date has yet to be established.

Plaintiffs allege Pfizer did not adequately warn of Zoloft risks

All plaintiffs allege that Pfizer failed to provide adequate warnings to pregnant women as to the danger of the medication affecting their child negatively and resulting in birth defects. They also say that the company was or should have been aware of the potential issues.

Side effects resulting from Zoloft use can include: PPHN, omphalocele, spina bifida, heart defects, heart conditions, clubfoot, and neural tube defects.

Pregnant women were never advised not to use the drug, but Zoloft has been associated with several kinds of birth defects and malformations. A major risk of the drug is if it is taken when the mother is in her first trimester of pregnancy and takes the medication before she’s aware that she’s pregnant.

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