Sarah R. London of the national plaintiffs’ law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, announced that Katherine and Matthew Murray, residents of Alameda County, California, have filed a personal injury lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline LLC (“GSK”) for the injuries suffered by their daughter allegedly as a result of Ms. Murray being prescribed while pregnant GSK’s drug ondansetron, sold under the brand name Zofran.
“We are deeply grateful for the excellent medical care our daughter has received,” stated Katherine Murray. “But it has been a long struggle to address damage to her heart that we believe was caused by Zofran. We hope our lawsuit helps raise the awareness of the dangers of the drug.”
Zofran is a powerful drug developed by GSK and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat only those patients who were afflicted with the most severe nausea imaginable – nausea suffered as a result of chemotherapy or radiation treatments in cancer patients. GSK marketed Zofran “off-label” as a safe and effective treatment for the very common side effect of a normal pregnancy – pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting – otherwise known as “morning sickness.”
In 2012, GSK pled guilty to criminal charges filed by the U.S. Department of Justice for its off-label promotion of certain prescription drugs, including Zofran, for uses never approved by the FDA. Zofran, however, continues to be widely prescribed to pregnant women across America to treat morning sickness even though it is not approved for this use.
The Murrays’ daughter was born in 2007 with severe congenital heart malformations and had to undergo numerous examinations culminating in surgery at age four. The complaint alleges that none of the injuries the Murrays’ daughter suffered would have occurred if GlaxoSmithKline had not concealed the risks of taking Zofran during pregnancy.
“Despite having received hundreds of reports of birth defects associated with Zofran and continuing strong sales to pregnant women, GSK has not performed any clinical studies on the safety or efficacy of Zofran for treating morning sickness,” stated London, counsel for the Murrays. “Moreover, GSK has not updated Zofran’s labeling to warn mothers and physicians that epidemiology studies report an increased risk of birth defects in infants exposed to Zofran during pregnancy. Recent studies report that a mother exposed to Zofran had more than a doubled risk of having a baby with a congenital heart defect as compared to a mother who did not ingest Zofran during pregnancy.”
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco. The lawsuit alleges claims of negligence, misrepresentation, concealment, breach of warranty, and violations of California law. The Murrays seek compensatory and punitive damages from GSK.
About Lieff Cabraser
Recognized as “one of the nation’s premier plaintiffs’ firms” by The American Lawyer, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a sixty-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco, New York, and Nashville. Our firm has successfully represented thousands of patients across America in individual lawsuits due to the injuries they suffered from defective medical devices. U.S. News and Best Lawyers have named Lieff Cabraser as their 2015 “Law Firm of the Year” for representing plaintiffs in class actions and mass torts.
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Sarah R. London
Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP