March 6, 2014 — February was an active month in the Zoloft birth defect litigation, which now involves over 600 lawsuits in state and federal court. The lawsuits allege that the use of Zoloft during pregnancy causes children to be born with severe birth defects.
Most cases are pending in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where 589 Zoloft lawsuits are overseen by Judge Cynthia M. Rufe. On March 4, Judge Rufe published a report with updates on the current status of the litigation.
Other states where Zoloft lawsuits are pending:
- Alabama: One lawsuit; August 2015 trial date.
- California: Six lawsuits pending in Orange County Superior Court.
- Illinois: 54 plaintiffs’ families have filed lawsuits; several have been remanded.
- Missouri: Foster, et al. v. Pfizer involves multiple Plaintiff families and is filed in St. Louis.
- New York: Six cases pending in three counties.
Although the litigation is widespread, plaintiffs make highly similar claims that Pfizer failed to provide pregnant women with adequate warnings about birth defects. In 2006, the FDA added warnings about the risk of Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN) on the label for Zoloft.
In 2007, the New England Journal of Medicine published two studies linking SSRI antidepressants with birth defects affecting the skull, abdomen, and more. In 2009, the British Medical Journal published a study linking first-trimester use of Zoloft to a tripled increased risk of septal heart defects.