Pfizer has requested the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to consolidate all Zoloft birth defect litigation in a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Pfizer reported that at least 59 lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer claiming involving similar questions and claims including that the antidepressant Zoloft caused severe malformations and birth defects in newborns when mothers took the drug during pregnancy. At least 48 of the current lawsuits have been filed in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, though Pfizer named the Southern and Northern Districts of Mississippi and the Northern District of Ohio as alternate locations.
Zoloft was approved for the market in 1991 as a treatment for anxiety, depression, and obsessive- compulsive disorder, and by 2007 was the most prescribed antidepressant in the country. However, recent studies have suggested that when taken during pregnancy Zoloft increases the risk of the baby being born with serious and severe health problems, including lung defects, cranial defects, heart defects, abdominal defects, persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns, and various malformations.
Oral arguments will be heard by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on May 31.