August 8, 2013 — Federal judges have decided to establish a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) to centralize Effexor birth defect lawsuits. The litigation will be overseen by Judge Cynthia M. Rufe in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is already presiding over MDL involving Zoloft birth defects.
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (now a part of Pfizer) is the manufacturer of Effexor (venlafaxine), an antidepressant drug. The company is facing nine Effexor birth defect lawsuits in five U.S. District Courts that raise similar allegations.
Wyeth is accused of failing to warn patients and their doctors that using Effexor during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects. Lawsuits allege that Wyeth improperly marketed Effexor as safe to use during pregnancy, despite evidence linking Effexor and birth defects.
In January 2013, researchers evaluated data on birth defects between 1997 and 2007. They found statistically significant increases in the risk of heart, brain, face, skull, and abdominal defects in babies exposed to Effexor in the womb.