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    Zofran Birth Defect Lawsuit Consolidation Requested In Motion By GlaxoSmithKline

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    On July 6, 2016, GlaxoSmithKline filed a motion to consolidate all current and future federal Zofran birth defect lawsuits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

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    On July 6, 2016, international pharmaceutical conglomerate GlaxoSmithKline filed a motion* before the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, requesting that all current and future Zofran birth defect lawsuits be consolidated in a single venue before one judge. Noting that twelve such claims have been filed in at least 8 federal courts, the company says it “anticipates that more actions will be filed nationwide.” Michael Monheit, Esq., managing partner at Monheit Law, says: “the consolidation mechanism provides benefits for all parties in a litigation, including the court system, since litigating cases individually would be less efficient.”

    GlaxoSmithKline argues that each lawsuit shares “numerous complex and common questions of fact.” In particular, plaintiffs allege that GSK unlawfully promoted Zofran as a “safe and effective” morning sickness treatment, without ever receiving FDA approval for the drug’s use during pregnancy. Further, parents claim that GlaxoSmithKline ignored mounting evidence of Zofran’s association to major birth defects, failing to warn the public or health community of the drug’s alleged risks. Plaintiffs say that they were prescribed Zofran during the first trimester to prevent the symptoms of nausea and vomiting, and gave birth to children with major birth defects as a result.

    The vast majority of Zofran birth defect lawsuits currently filed claim damages in relation to congenital heart defects allegedly caused by the drug. Families have named several “hole in the heart” defects, like ventricular and atrial septal defects, along the lines of current medical research. Plaintiffs cite a series of major European studies that have found a marked increase in the risk for such “cardiac septal defects” among babies exposed to Zofran prenatally. Claims have also been filed for cleft lip and cleft palate, birth defects linked to Zofran by a study performed at Harvard University in 2012. Families can find more information on the studies linking Zofran to major birth defects on Zofran.Monheit.com, a resource sponsored by Monheit Law and an alliance of plaintiffs’ attorneys currently investigating potential Zofran birth defect claims.

    Consolidation of the sort requested by GSK is a common step in mass torts in which a large number of claims that involve similar allegations have been or are expected to be filed. If the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation grants the company’s motion, all Zofran birth defect lawsuits filed in federal courts will be transferred to a chosen venue and be preceded over by a single judge. GlaxoSmithKline has requested that Zofran lawsuits be consolidated in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where the company maintains a headquarters at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard.

    In its motion, GlaxoSmithKline writes that Zofran birth defect lawsuits have already been filed in Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas federal courts. For claims filed in state, rather than federal courts, a removal motion may be filed to remove the complaint to federal court. The case will then be transferred to the Zofran Products Liability Litigation MDL. To view a copy of GlaxoSmithKline’s motion, click here.

    The company argues that Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, who has managed two other Multidistrict Litigations (MDL) involving pharmaceutical drugs linked to birth defects, should be appointed as judge to manage the Zofran MDL. The motion names Judge Paul Diamond as an alternative. Diamond presided over an MDL involving thalidomide between 2011 and 2013.

    As the Zofran litigation proceeds, Monheit Law has joined with an alliance of experienced attorneys to assist families who believe that prenatal exposure to Zofran may have caused a child’s birth defects. The lawyers are currently providing free consultations to any parent or birth defect survivor looking for more information. For a case eligibility evaluation at no cost, call 1-877-620-8411.

    *In Re Zofran Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. n/a (JPML)

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