Last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation centralized all federally filed Zoloft birth defect lawsuits before Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. At that time, nearly 100 lawsuits were centralized to the court on behalf of children who were born with birth defects from Zoloft prescribed to their mother’s during pregnancy, and the number is expected to grow.
Earlier this month, Judge Rufe issued a pretrial order scheduling the initial status conference of the MDL for July 12, at which time, attorneys for each side will “suggest procedures that will facilitate the expeditious, economical and just resolution of this litigation,” the order said.
The judge also ordered that by June 8, each side is to present a proposed case management order, as well as a brief regarding the factual and critical issues concerning the litigation.
All of the lawsuits involved thus far in the MDL allege that Pfizer failed to adequately warn consumers and physicians about the serious and potentially life-threatening side effects of Zoloft on babies, including heart defects, lung defects, cranial defects and malformations, abdominal defects, spina bifida, and persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns (PPHN). Zoloft was approved by the FDA in 1991 as a treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression.