Third Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment for Pfizer in Zoloft MDL

A Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel recently upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims at summary judgment in a multi-district litigation involving Zoloft, an anti-depressant manufactured by Pfizer. The MDL involved 315 plaintiffs alleging that Zoloft causes cardiac birth defects when taken during early pregnancy. The decision, which upheld an earlier ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, has both good and bad aspects for defendants facing pharmaceutical product liability claims. The plaintiffs introduced several expert witnesses…
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Zoloft MDL Excludes on Daubert Grounds Plaintiffs’ Experts’ Opinions on General Causation

Last month the Pennsylvania federal judge presiding over the multi-district litigation in which the plaintiffs allege that the prescription anti-depressant Zoloft, taken during pregnancy, causes birth defects, issued another in an series of Daubert rulings on the plaintiffs’ proposed experts as to general causation. Although the defendant conceded the qualifications of the three research scientists whose expert evidence was being tested, the reliability of their general causation opinions was hotly contested and received a full evidentiary hearing. The Zoloft court’s rulings represent an important addition…
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds Dismissal of Suit Claiming Paxil Caused Birth Defects

The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently upheld the trial court’s ruling in Thomas v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., 27 Pa.D.&C. 5th 279 (Pa.Commw. Ct. 2012).  Thomas dismissed plaintiff’s wrongful death and survival claims based on her use of the antidepressant drug Paxil during pregnancy as time barred.  She ingested Paxil during her pregnancy and she was subsequently informed in 2001 that a fetal echocardiogram revealed that her fetus had congenital heart defects.  Three days later she chose to undergo a therapeutic abortion at less than…
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Philadelphia Jury Returns $4 Million Verdict in Topamax Lawsuit, But Will it Stand?

A Philadelphia County jury returned a verdict in excess of $4 Million on behalf of plaintiffs who alleged that their child suffered birth defects related to his mother’s use of Topamax during pregnancy, but the complex procedural battle which occurred before the October 30th verdict suggests that the final chapter has yet to be written in this case. Plaintiffs, April and Blake Czimmer, filed suit in 2011 alleging that April took the anti-seizure medication Topamax (Topiramate) for six months during her pregnancy, and their child…
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Diflucan May Be Related To Increased Risk of Congenital Heart Defects in Children

This week, the New England Journal of Medicine published Danish Researchers’  findings on whether low doses of Diflucan (a Pfizer medication) carry the same risk of birth defects that long term, high doses of the medication have seen, as referenced here. In August of 2011, the FDA changed the designation of high doses Diflucan from a Category C to a Category D pregnancy drug, which means that there is positive human evidence of a risk of birth defects and issued a drug safety communication about…
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