July 7, 2015 — GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), maker of the anti-nausea drug Zofran, has asked a panel of federal judges to centralize a dozen lawsuits into one federal court in Pennsylvania.
GSK filed a motion (PDF) requesting oral argument with the U.S Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 6. The drug-maker wants the lawsuits coordinated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the same state where the company is headquartered.
GSK also wants District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe to oversee the litigation. She already has experience overseeing hundreds of lawsuits involving birth defects caused by the antidepressant Zoloft.
The JPML often creates a Multi-District Litigations (MDL) when it expects a large number of similar lawsuits to be filed around the nation. Coordinating the lawsuits into one court under one judge has many benefits. According to GSK:
“Consolidating these matters will serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses and promote just and efficient resolution of the litigation by, inter alia, eliminating duplicative discovery and motion practice, preventing inconsistent pretrial rulings, deterring improper forum and judge shopping, conserving judicial resources, and reducing litigation costs and effort for the parties.”
All of the lawsuits have been filed by women who took Zofran for morning sickness during pregnancy and had a baby with a birth defect. The women accuse GSK of marketing Zofran “off-label” without testing it for safety during pregnancy or warning pregnant women about potential risks.