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Hagens Berman Adds Five Cases To Thalidomide Litigation

Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP (HBSS) has filed a new case on behalf of five alleged victims of multiple German and North American companies, charging that they or their predecessors concealed the distribution of the drug thalidomide to pregnant women in the 1960s, allegedly causing birth defects across the United States.

The suit, filed on Aug. 7, 2013, brings the number of clients Hagens Berman represents to 49. The firm first brought attention to this matter when it filed its first lawsuit in 2011.

The most recent filing in state court in Pennsylvania names Avantor Performance Materials, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY), and Grünenthal GmbH as defendants, as well as some of their subsidiaries.

According to court documents, recent research suggests that thalidomide—a drug that caused thousands of horrific cases of deformities in children—caused far more deformities in the U.S. than originally thought.

Invented by German drug company Grunenthal, thalidomide was widely used throughout Europe during the late 1950s and early 1960s, resulting in thousands of deaths and extreme, disfiguring birth defects when used by women during pregnancy.

The drug was never approved for commercial distribution in the United States, but the new lawsuit filed today by HBSS on behalf of five individuals—all born with severe birth defects—alleges that as many as 2.5 million doses of thalidomide were distributed by more than 1,200 doctors to more than 20,000 people on U.S. soil, including pregnant women. The lawsuit is the latest in a series of suits filed by individuals who claim that their mothers were given thalidomide while they were in the womb, and who suffered serious injuries or birth defects as a result.

The lawsuit claims that Richardson-Merrell, a pharmaceutical company now owned by Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) conducted large-scale “clinical trials” with thalidomide that involved more than 20,000 people, including pregnant women, in the early 1960s.

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