GlaxoSmithKline is continuing to negotiate potential Avandia settlement agreements in thousands of lawsuits filed over heart problems caused by their diabetes drug, even as new suits continue to be filed. At the same time, some of the first plaintiffs who settled their cases last year are just now beginning to receive their compensation.
Last year it was reported that the drug maker reached agreements to settle Avandia lawsuits brought by more than 10,000 people, with average payouts estimated to range between $46,000 and $70,000. However, that has still left several thousand of cases unresolved and new complaints continue to be filed against the drug maker on behalf of individuals who allege they suffered heart problems from Avandia.
According to statements made at a recent hearing in federal court, about 5,300 state court Avandia lawsuits are still pending and a number of them are likely to be resolved. Bloomberg News now reports that the drug maker is close to resolving at least 1,000 cases.
Despite all indications that the Avandia litigation is winding down, new lawsuits continue to be brought. One of the more recent complaints was filed earlier this week, on May 3, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. That lawsuit was filed by the family of Linda Beam, a 61 year old woman who suffered a cardiac death in May 2009 after taking Avandia from October 1999 until she died.
Unlike an Avandia class action lawsuit, each claim against GlaxoSmithKline is an individual case that must be resolved on it’s own merits. Known as a mass tort, because thousands of individual cases involve similar allegations and injuries, many of the cases have been centralized for pretrial litigation, but they still remain individual cases.
Rather than negotiating a global settlement to resolve all Avandia lawsuits, as was done in prior mass torts like Vioxx, GlaxoSmithKline has been attempting to negotiate small group settlements with Avandia lawyers representing a large numbers of claimants.
Although some of the first Avandia settlements were reportedly reached in May 2010, individuals represented by firms involved in those deals are just now beginning to receive their compensation. The process of allocating any group settlement among a large number of clients is a lengthy one, and individual circumstances for each case have caused further delays for some plaintiffs.
Some experts have estimated that Avandia may have caused between 60,000 and 200,000 heart attacks and deaths in the United States due to cardiovascular problems between 1999 and 2006.