Pfizer has filed a motion requesting the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidate all federally filed Zoloft birth defect lawsuits under one judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York as part of a multidistrict litigation, or MDL.
According to the motion, there are currently more than 59 lawsuits filed against Pfizer in federal courts across the country alleging that when taken during pregnancy, Zoloft, an antidepressant used to treat anxiety, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder, increases the risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening injuries to babies, including heart defects, abdominal defects, cranial defects, lung defects, and conditions including persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns, PPHN. The increased risk of birth defects can occur as early as the first trimester, before women may even know they are pregnant.
According to the motion, Pfizer requested consolidation to the Southern or Northern District of Mississippi or the Northern District of Ohio as other possible locations. The company chose the New York location as the primary location because it centrally situated and because the company’s headquarters are located there. The majority of lawsuits filed against Pfizer over the increased risk of birth defects are filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania however.
The Judicial Panel will hear oral arguments regarding the motion on May 31 in Washington D. C.