In an Oct. 5 order, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) assigned at least 65 lawsuits against Walmart Inc., CVS Health Corp., and other retailers to Judge Denise Cote in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The panel acknowledged that each of the nine retailers listed as defendants sells different store brands of acetaminophen products. But the central issue with all claims is the active ingredient in all the medicines — acetaminophen.
The plaintiffs allege that acetaminophen exposure in utero adversely affects the fetus’ brain development, resulting in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (Autism), both neurodevelopmental disorders.
The lawsuits cite recent scientific research linking acetaminophen use by pregnant women and ADHD or autism to their offspring later in childhood. One study, which measured the amount of acetaminophen in newborn umbilical cord blood, found that children with the highest levels of acetaminophen in their cord blood were nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD later in life and more than 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with autism.
These findings are especially concerning given that acetaminophen is one of the most widely used painkillers in the country and is widely considered safe for pregnant women. The American Academy of Pediatrics estimates that as many as 70% of women use the painkiller while pregnant. Yet, retailers failed to warn pregnant women that using the medicine could harm their unborn children.
The panel tapped Judge Cote to oversee the acetaminophen MDL saying, “This complex industry-wide litigation is in need of an experienced transferee judge, a point on which nearly all parties agree.” Judge Cote has handled eight previous MDLs, including litigation involving the blood thinner Eliquis.
Despite mounting evidence linking ADHD and autism to prenatal and postnatal exposure to the painkiller acetaminophen, manufacturers and sellers of acetaminophen products continue to market these products to pregnant women without warning them of the risks acetaminophen poses to unborn babies and young children.
If you took acetaminophen while pregnant or treated your infant with acetaminophen for pain associated with vaccinations, and they were diagnosed with autism or ADHD, we can help. Contact us for a no-cost consultation.
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