Earlier this year, the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation voted to consolidate hundreds of birth defect lawsuits into one massive case that will be heard in Boston. Over 220 families have filed cases against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the makers of Zofran (ondansetron), an anti-nausea medication.
While each case has its own unique features, the claims were consolidated because they all share a common thread. All of the families allege that the mothers who took Zofran during their pregnancies gave birth to children with serious birth defects, including heart defects, cleft palates and lips, abnormally shaped skulls, and club feet. Zofran can also cause miscarriage or fetal death.
GSK developed Zofran to treat nausea associated with chemotherapy. The lawsuit alleges that the pharmaceutical giant pushed doctors to prescribe the medication for off-label uses, including morning sickness in pregnant women. However, the drug had not been tested on pregnant women, and the doctors who prescribed the drug were unaware that it could cause birth defects.
In 2012, the Department of Justice prosecuted GSK for illegally promoting its medications for untested, off-label uses. As a result of the investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice hit GSK with the largest penalty ever recorded, ordering the company to pay $3 billion in criminal and civil penalties.
While the Department of Justice succeeded in punishing GSK, the penalties the company had to pay were not given to the individuals who were victimized by GSK’s actions. The parents of children suffering from birth defects caused by Zofran still have to pursue legal action against the company to receive any compensation.
Consolidating these cases in federal court will push the litigation forward quickly. The consolidated case will move toward trial much faster than an individual’s case would, and the numerous plaintiffs could force GSK to offer a settlement.
If you or your child was injured as a result of taking Zofran during pregnancy, you should speak with an attorney about your options. Not every person who was injured by Zofran must join the federal case in Boston. In some instances, you may be able to bring your own case in state court.
Roberts & Roberts focuses on helping people who have been injured in accidents or have been the victim of faulty medical products. Please call 800-248-6000 or contact us for a free consultation with our experienced personal injury legal team for the compassionate representation you deserve.