Is CDC birth defect monitoring effective?

baby with Zofran birth defect
Plaintiffs question if the CDC could have determined if Zofran caused birth defects sooner. With 200 cases consolidated under MDL 2657, plaintiffs have been attempting to raise public awareness about the drug Zofran, by asking questions about the drug as well as its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

The Plaintiff's Allegations

In each of the lawsuits filed against GSK, plaintiffs have alleged that the company unlawfully advertised their anti-nausea medication Zofran for “off-label” use and that as a result, an unborn child developed a birth defect. Mothers have claimed that their child’s cleft lip, cleft palate, transposition of the greater vessels, atrial septal defect, ventricular septal defect, clubfoot, or respiratory distress syndrome were caused by the drug.

Zofran earned U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval over twenty years ago. The FDA approval covered the use of the drug in patients who are experiencing nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy, radiation, and anesthesia. The drug was not approved as a treatment for morning sickness, nor was it tested on expectant mothers to determine if it was safe.

Each plaintiff alleges that the company was negligent because they failed to warn both the medical community and the public of the risks.

Birth Defect Tracking: The CDC

Plaintiffs are now questioning why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t make a connection between the mother’s use of the drug and birth defects sooner. According to the CDC, there are programs in 41 states which monitor the number and type of birth defects. The purpose of these programs is to:

  • understand if the number of birth defects is increasing or decreasing over time
  • investigate possible causes of and risk factors for birth defects
  • to educate the public about birth defects and prevent them
  • to refer babies and families affected by birth defects to appropriate services

Numerous studies have been performed which report that when pregnant women took Zofran, there was a significant increase in the number of children born with a birth defect. So is it possible that the CDC missed something and that the department could have warned the public sooner?

MDL 2657

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation announced that they had decided to combine Zofran lawsuits into an MDL since each complaint contained similar questions of fact. Each of the lawsuits consolidated to Massachusetts will be overseen by the Honorable Judge F. Dennis Saylor.

About Laurence Banville

Attorney Contributor:

Laurence P. Banville, Esq. is the managing partner of Banville Law. He is a regular contributor on several topics including negligent security cases, child sexual abuse and Dram Shop and liquor liability cases.

This article was fact checked prior to publishing by this author to ensure compliance with our rigorous editorial standards. We will only use authoritative sources. Our values compel us to provide only trustworthy information. If you find an error, please contact us.

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