Jon Campisi Aug. 12, 2013, 7:09am


The drug company named as one of the defendants in the newly created Effexor products liability multidistrict litigation being consolidated in federal court in Philadelphia has officially responded to the claims.

Pfizer, in a statement sent to the Pennsylvania Record by the pharmaceutical company’s senior media relations manager, Steve Danehy, says while it supports coordination and consolidation of the cases under U.S. District Judge Cynthia Rufe at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania because it should “ensure efficiency and consistency in adjudication” of the claims, the company still maintains that Effexor benefits many patients nationwide.

“Effexor represents an important innovation in the treatment of depression and anxiety and has benefited patients across the country,” the company’s statement reads. “There is extensive science supporting the safety and efficacy of Effexor, and the medicine carries accurate, science-based and FDA-approved information on its benefits and risks.”

On Aug. 6, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued a transfer order sending nine civil actions against Pfizer and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals that were pending in five different federal courts across the country to the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

The suits, five of which had been filed in the Eastern District, contain allegations that the defendants’ antidepressant drug Effexor caused birth defects in children born to women who used the pharmaceutical during pregnancy.

The other complaints that comprise the newly created MDL had originally been initiated at the Southern District of California, the Northern District of Illinois, the Northern District of Mississippi, and the Northern District of Ohio.

Rufe, the federal jurist tapped to oversee the Effexor MDL, is already handling pre-trial proceedings in the Zoloft Multidistrict Litigation at the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The panel cited Rufe’s handling of the Zoloft case as justification for sending her the Effexor lawsuits; both MDL’s apparently involve similar claims.

In its statement, Pfizer said that while it supports transfer to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the company still stands by its medicine and intends to “vigorously defend it.”

“This is a procedural ruling and not a determination on the merits of the alleged claims, which plaintiffs still must attempt to prove in the courtroom,” the statement reads.

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