The pharmaceutical industry has long been under suspicion of manufacturing and marketing drugs to the public without adequately ensuring that the drugs are safe. One such drug that has come under fire is Zoloft, a popular antidepressant used to treat major depression in adult patients, as well as obsessive-compulsive, panic, and social anxiety disorders in both children and adults. Despite its popularity, Zoloft has been linked to birth defects in several studies. Specifically, Zoloft has been linked with a circulatory condition known as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN).
With more than 330 federal lawsuits filed against Pfizer to date, U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who is presiding over the multidistrict litigation (MDL), ruled that there are sufficient cases in federal court for precedential rulings to be appropriate. Initially, there was a flurry of motions for remand to state court filed, but Judge Rufe said in a status conference last week that because there haven’t been many additional motions for remand, she believes there is “enough of a body to create a precedential type of line of rulings.”
In other words, the lawsuits against Pfizer will proceed into the discovery phase of the litigation process. In fact, a special discovery master for the Zoloft MDL has been introduced and plaintiff fact sheets are being prepared by both plaintiffs’ counsel and attorneys for Pfizer. According to the Legal Intelligencer, more than 300,000 documents have already been produced by Pfizer.
The lawsuits against Pfizer claim that Pfizer failed to warn the public that Zoloft and other brands of sertraline could cause severe, life-threatening birth defects if the drug is taken during pregnancy. Several studies have linked Zoloft to other birth defects in addition to PPHN, such as gastrointestinal defects, cleft palate, and Down’s syndrome. In fact, the FDA has cited to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine which indicates that women who take SSRIs like Zoloft after the 20th week of pregnancy are six times more likely to give birth to a child with PPHN than mothers who did not take antidepressants. PPHN is caused by the failure of fetal blood vessels to close after delivery.
The Chicago medical malpractice attorneys at Ankin Law Office, LLC are committed to protecting the rights of those injured by unsafe drugs or medical devices. If you or a loved one has suffered serious side effects or medical complications as a result of a dangerous pharmaceutical drug such as Zoloft, contact the skilled Chicago unsafe pharmaceutical drug lawyers at Ankin Law Office to schedule a free consultation to discuss a possible product liability lawsuit.