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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
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GSK Seeks Consolidation of Zofran Lawsuits in Pennsylvania

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The number of Zofran lawsuits filed in courts around the country continues to increase. Parents claim that Zofran manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks of birth defects when the medication is taken by pregnant women.

Considering the rising litigation, GSK has recently filed a motion to consolidate all federally filed Zofran lawsuits into one court. Currently, there are at least 12 cases pending in ten different judicial districts. Consolidation would bring them all into the same court for pre-trial proceedings.

GSK Seeks Consolidation of Zofran Lawsuits

GSK filed the motion on July 6, 2015. In it, they expressed their preference for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. They noted how many cases have been filed so far, and stated that they anticipate “more actions will be filed nationwide.”

The GSK requested consolidation for the following reasons:

• There are numerous complex and common questions of fact involved
• Consolidation would establish uniform and consistent standards in conducting pretrial discovery and motion practice

Among the common facts are the claims that the plaintiffs make in their complaints. These include:

• Mother and fetus exposed to Zofran
• Minor plaintiff suffered injuries and damages arising from birth defects
• Defendant failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks
• Defendant misled mothers into believing that Zofran was safe to use during pregnancy
• Defendant improperly designed, manufactured, and/or marketed Zofran

GSK goes on to state that the factual allegations in the plaintiffs’ complaints “are nearly identical in numerous critical respects.” They add that consolidation would help avoid duplicative and conflicting rulings and would “serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient resolution of the litigation.”

GSK Requests the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

GSK maintains that the Eastern District of Pennsylvania would be the best location for the new Zofran MDL for the following reasons:

• GSK employs over 1,000 individuals in the Philadelphia area
• GSK also has over 200,000 square feet of office space in Philadelphia
• Witnesses and documents related to the development and sale of Zofran are likely to be located in this district
• The Eastern District of Pennsylvania has significant experience handling MDLs involving pharmaceutical products liability actions
• The court is geographically accessible to counsel and parties involved

GSK also requested Judge Cynthia M. Rufe or Judge Paul S. Diamond to oversee the proceedings.

Zofran Linked with Birth Defects

The FDA approved Zofran in 1991 for the treatment of nausea and vomiting in patients going through chemotherapy and surgery. The drug was never approved for use in pregnant women, but GSK advertised it to doctors and parents as a treatment for severe morning sickness.

GSK has since received at least 200 reports of birth defects linked with the mother’s use of Zofran, particularly during the first trimester. The company pled guilty to criminal charges in 2012, and agreed to pay $3 billion in fines for a number of issues, including illegally promoting Zofran for unapproved uses.