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Pfizer, faces at least 95 Zoloft lawsuits filed in 16 different federal district courts by families of children born with severe birth defects or malformations after being exposed to their popular antidepressant during pregnancy.

A panel of federal judges is scheduled to hear oral arguments in San Diego regarding the motion to consolidate all federal lawsuits over Zoloft birth defects in one court for pretrial proceedings, as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

Pfizer has filed a supplemental brief on March 22, stating that the number of product liability lawsuits filed over Zoloft antidepressant has increased by more than 60% since the beginning of this year, when the drug maker filed a motion to consolidated the Zoloft litigation.

On January 18, Pfizer filed a motion to transfer 59 cases to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claiming that the cases should be consolidated for pretrial litigation to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings and serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.

Some plaintiffs have filed motions supporting consolidation of the Zoloft lawsuits, and propose other venues, with the majority of plaintiffs supporting either the Southern District of Illinois or Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

All of the complaints involve allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately warn consumers and the medical community that use of Zoloft during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects for children.

Exposure to the SSRI antidepressant has been linked to serious and deadly health problems for babies, including persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN), spina bifida, heart defects, lung defects, abdominal defects and cranial defects.

Zoloft (sertraline) was introduced by Pfizer in 1991 for the treatment of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. By 2007 there were nearly 30 million prescriptions, making it the most prescribed antidepressant in the United States.

Following a hearing before the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation, a decision on whether to consolidate the litigation is expected within a few weeks. If a Zoloft MDL is formed, the panel will also determine the most appropriate transfer venue.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Michelle Gregory
    Michelle Gregory

    Hi. This past year my sister was told the the health problems that her son has is due to her taking zoloft during her pregnancy. Her doctor say's he had no idea that there was a chance of birth defects while taking the drug.

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