September 17, 2013 – Following the consolidation of all federal Effexor birth defects lawsuits, a panel of federal judges has scheduled an initial status conference to determine the structure and organization of the multidistrict litigation (MDL) for next month in Philadelphia. At the time the MDL was announced, there were at least nine Effexor birth defect lawsuits pending in courthouses around the country; however, industry insiders have predicted this number to rise into the hundreds or even thousands by the time the litigation process is complete. Effexor is a widely-prescribed antidepressant that belongs to a class of medications that have been linked to a large number of severe heart, lung, and cranial birth defects.
What’s the problem?
Last month, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered that all Effexor birth defects lawsuits filed on the federal level will be centralized for pretrial handling before District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Rufe scheduled an initial status conference for October 25 in Philadelphia, where interim liaison counsel will be appointed for the plaintiffs and defendants.
Following applications from lawyers who wish to serve in leadership roles in the MDL, Rufe will proceed to establish a Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee. Those appointed to the committee will then coordinate discovery and serve in various capacities for plaintiffs at hearings and meetings before the Court, including entering potential stipulations or settlement negotiations with the Defendants.
Rufe has also directed the various parties to submit a non-binding “position statement” before next month’s hearing, which will include a brief written explanation of each member’s understanding of the facts involved in the Effexor birth defects litigation. A proposed agenda for the hearing is to be submitted to Rufe by October 18.
Effexor Birth Defects
Manufactured and marketed by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Effexor (generic: venlafaxine) is a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), and belongs to a group of drugs which have been linked to a large number of severe, potentially life-threatening birth defects. When taken by expecting mothers during pregnancy (especially during the first trimester, a time when many women are still unaware they are pregnant), Effexor has the potential to cause the following congenital abnormalities:
- Atrial Septal Defects (ASD)
- Ventricular Septal Defects (VSD)
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn (PPHN)
- Tricuspid Valve (Ebstein’s Anomaly)
- Mitral Valve Prolapse
- Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA)
- Transposition of the Great Vessels (TGV)
- Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
- Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)
- Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS)
- Tricuspid Atresia
- Aortic Stenosis
- Pulmonary Atresia (PA)
- Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)
- Coarctation of the Aorta
- Truncus Arteriosus
- Tricuspid Valve Stenosis
- Heart Murmur
- Pulmonary Stenosis
- Gastroschisis – abdominal wall defect
- Esophageal Stenosis
- Anal Atresia
- Spina Bifida