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JPML Will Hear GSK Motion To Transfer In October

The Judicial Panel on MultiDistrict Litigation will hear arguments concerning the possible centralizing of the Zofran birth defect lawsuits into multidistrict litigation during its October Hearing Session.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - The motion to transfer lawsuits filed against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for birth defects allegedly caused by the company's anti-nausea medication Zofran into an MDL will be decided upon in an October Hearing Session before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The motion to transfer, which was filed by the defendant GSK, aims to consolidate all the lawsuits nationwide before a single federal judge. There are more than 30 lawsuits currently pending against GSK regarding the connection between Zofran and an increased risk in birth defects.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued an order on August 14 stating that the Hearing Session will take place in New York City on October 1st. The Session will address the request by GSK to consolidate the Zofran lawsuits pending against the company. At the time of the motion to transfer, there were only 12 lawsuits filed against the defendant. That number has more than doubled in the month and a half since the motion was originally filed.

GSK requested in the motion to transfer for the lawsuits to be consolidated to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal court before U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe. If unavailable to hear the multidistrict litigation, GSK requested that the lawsuits be heard by U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond as an alternate.

The lawsuits pending against GSK allege that the company failed to warn patients of an increased risk of birth defects associated with their anti-nausea drug Zofran when taken by pregnant mothers. Zofran birth defect research dating back to the early 2000's has repeatedly demonstrated a link between the medication and an increase in the rate of birth defects in children exposed to the drug while in the womb.

Attorney's representing the plaintiffs have also claimed that GSK was aware of the risks posed by Zofran to pregnant mothers and their children but chose against warning the patients of those risks in the interest of generating increased profits from the medication. GSK has continued to dispute the Zofran birth defect research being done worldwide, which has been supported by studies conducted by Harvard and Boston Universities and in a number of medical journals.

Zofran was first approved as an anti-nausea medication intended for use following surgeries and chemotherapy in the 1990's. The lawsuits allege that sometime since then, GSK began to market the drug off-label to physicians to be prescribed to treat morning sickness in pregnant mothers. The off-label marketing circumvented the FDA testing process and as a result Zofran was never approved by the agency for morning sickness. Plaintiffs claim that GSK was negligent in marketing an unapproved drug to pregnant women that had research claiming it had ties to birth defects including kidney and heart failures that have allegedly led to infant deaths.

GKS was fined $3 billion by the Department of Justice in 2012 for a number of infractions, one of the main ones being off-label marketing. The plaintiffs filing lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant will likely receive a sizable sum for damages as well if their lawsuits prevail or they are able to reach a settlement with GSK. The results of GSK's motion to transfer the lawsuits into multidistrict litigation will be announced sometime in the middle of October.

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Onder, Shelton, O'Leary & Peterson, LLC is a St. Louis personal injury law firm handling serious injury and death claims across the country. Its mission is the pursuit of justice, no matter how complex the case or strenuous the effort. Onder, Shelton, O'Leary & Peterson has represented clients throughout the United States in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation such as Pradaxa, Lexapro and Yasmin/Yaz, where the firm's attorneys held significant leadership roles in the litigation, as well as Actos, DePuy, Risperdal and others, and other law firms throughout the nation often seek its experience and expertise on complex litigation.