In January 2013, a Kentucky woman filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, Inc. Pfizer manufactures the antidepressant drug Zoloft. Her lawsuit alleges that her baby boy was born with severe birth defects caused by Zoloft that she took during her pregnancy in late 2006. Her son was born in February 2007 and suffered severe birth defects. He required heart surgery as well as other treatments for life-threatening medical conditions.
Pfizer failed to warn of risk.
The Kentucky lawsuit alleges that Pfizer knew in 2006, prior to the woman receiving her first prescription for Zoloft, that there was a risk of harm to babies born of mothers who took Zoloft during pregnancy. Zoloft failed to warn women of this harm.
The lawsuit also alleges that Pfizer increased its liability by urging pregnant women not to discontinue Zoloft use during their pregnancy. Pfizer claimed there would be serious side effects for women who quit taking the drug and told them that the risk of discontinuing the drug was greater than any risk there might be of birth defects.
According to the lawsuit, at the time Pfizer encouraged pregnant women not to discontinue the use of Zoloft, the company knew the drug increased the risk of birth defects. The Kentucky woman claims that if she had been properly warned, she would not have taken the drug.
More than 250 birth defect lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer.
The recent Kentucky lawsuit is only one of more than 250 lawsuits that have been filed against Pfizer for its failure to warn about the relationship between birth defects and Zoloft taken during pregnancy. The mothers are seeking damages for their children’s future medical care. They are also seeking punitive damages against Pfizer due to its failure to warn when it knew about the potential harm.
So many lawsuits have been filed that most of them have been consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania according to a federal rule for multi-district litigation (MDL). One judge will rule on pretrial motions and discovery issues in order to avoid different court rulings on similar issues. The first trial is scheduled for September 2014.
Difference in MDL and a class action lawsuit.
MDL differs from class a class action lawsuit. In MDL, each case will be decided on its own merit depending on the harm suffered by each individual plaintiff. If a defendant wins her case, she will be awarded damages according to her own individual harm. In a class action lawsuit, one award is made to all plaintiffs that have joined the lawsuit and is divided equally among them no matter how they were individually harmed. The first MDL is scheduled for trial in September 2014.
Medical studies support the allegations.
Through the years, studies have been conducted that support the allegations of the plaintiffs. Studies show that there is indeed an increased risk of birth defects in babies whose mothers took Zoloft during the first trimester of pregnancy. Zoloft babies have a greater risk of being born with heart and lung defects, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, cleft palate and a number of other problems. Some babies have died shortly after birth.
Sometimes, the defect is not apparent at birth. As the babies grow, developmental delays are discovered. Despite all the evidence that Zoloft should not be taken by pregnant women, and the large number of lawsuits that have been filed against Pfizer, the drug has not be recalled and is still on the market.
About the author
This article was composed by Timothy Spielman, a freelance writer with an interest in law, politics, product safety, product warranties, and other relevant issues. Should the need to contact an attorney in the area of Birth Injuries arise be sure to view a firm with substantial experience in this subfield.