CVS Faces Suit Over Marketing Acetaminophen to Pregnant Women

A suit was filed on Wednesday in the Northern District of California Oakland Division by plaintiff Ingrid Moran (both individually and as guardian ad litem to M.B. and I.B., minors) against defendant CVS Pharmacy, Inc. The complaint alleges that CVS failed to adequately warn the plaintiff about the risks associated with prenatal exposure to paracetamol/acetaminophen (APAP).

It is common for pregnant women to use APAP as a method to relieve the pain they experience with their pregnancy, including headaches, muscle pain, back pain, and more, according to the complaint. The plaintiff explains that APAP has “long been marketed as the safest, and the only appropriate, over-the-counter pain relief drug on the market for pregnant women.” The plaintiff asserts that pregnant women elect to use APAP because CVS has marketed it as a safe pain reliever to use throughout pregnancy.

However, the plaintiff notes that scientific and epidemiological research has indicated that prenatal exposure to APAP can affect fetal development and increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders like autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Recent increases in the diagnoses of ASD and ADHD, Moran argues, can be explained by prenatal APAP exposure.

CVS was engaged in the business of manufacturing and marketing APAP products in the United States. The complaint claims that due to the weight of the scientific evidence surrounding APAP, ASD, and ADHD, the defendant “knew or should have known that prenatal use of APAP can cause ASD or ADHD.” Moran contends that CVS concealed this knowledge in an effort to sell the product.

When the plaintiff was pregnant, she took APAP because she believed it would be safe for her to consume based on the defendant’s APAP product labels, the complaint says. When both of her children were born, they began experiencing developmental delays and were diagnosed with ASD at young ages; Moran explains that their diagnoses put an “incredible strain” on their family, and that they experience “substantial stress and anxiety.”

The complaint cites strict liability (failure to warn), negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, violation of consumer protection laws, and negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiff Moran is seeking compensatory damages, restitution, disgorgement, statutory penalties, punitive and enhanced damages, litigation fees, ascertainable economic damages, prejudgment interest, a trial by jury, and any other relief deemed proper by the court.

The plaintiff is represented in the litigation by Walkup, Melodia, Kelly, and Schoenberger.