Pfizer asks judge to dismiss more than 500 birth injury lawsuits

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Pfizer, a pharmaceutical giant, asked a Pennsylvania judge to dismiss more than 500 cases from all over the country alleging that the firm’s antidepressant drug Zoloft causes birth injuries.

The 526 lawsuits, which have been combined into multidistrict litigation in Philadelphia, allege that Pfizer was negligent in failing to warn pregnant women that birth injuries such as cleft palate, cardiac problems and club feet could result from taking the drug. Pfizer maintains that Zoloft is safe for pregnant women to take according to federal guidelines.

After Judge Cynthia Rufe excluded four expert witnesses against Pfizer, on the basis that their arguments were not rigorous enough, Pfizer moved to dismiss all of the lawsuits, claiming that there is not enough evidence for the plaintiffs to prevail.

However, the plaintiffs’ attorneys have applied to present a new expert witness. The plaintiffs want Nicholas Jewell, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Public Health, to testify that birth injuries can be caused by Zoloft.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said that the drug “obviously” causes problems, and that they would prove it in court.

An attorney for Pfizer said that the company has sympathy for the families but believes there is no evidence that the birth injuries were caused by the women’s use of Zoloft.

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