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Discovery Plan for Lawsuits Over Chantix Established by MDL Court

  • Written by: Staff Writers
  • 5 Comments

U.S. District Judge Inge Prytz Johnson, who is presiding over the consolidated federal Chantix lawsuits, has established a discovery plan for the exchange of information during pretrial litigation, which seems to indicate the the first Chantix trial is unlikely to reach a jury until at least 2012.

All lawsuits filed in federal court against Pfizer over alleged side effects of Chantix, their popular smoking cessation treatment, have been centralized for pretrial litigation before Judge Johnson in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL). The cases involve similar allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately research their medication or warn about the risk of suicide from Chantix or other psychological side effects.

When the Chantix litigation was consolidated in October 2009, there were 34 lawsuits pending in different federal district courts throughout the United States. Since then, several dozen more cases have been transferred into the MDL. In addition, Chantix lawyers are continuing to investigate hundreds of other potential cases that are expected to be filed in the coming months.

According to a Pretrial Order issued February 24, Plaintiffs and Defendants with Chantix cases in the MDL will produce documents, exchange information about their cases and conduct depositions between now and the end of 2011.

“This Joint Coordinated Plan of Discovery is intended to conserve judicial resources, eliminate duplicative services by all counsel and co-counsel, eliminate duplicative discovery, serve the convenience of the parties and the witnesses, and promote the judge and efficient conduct of this litigation,” wrote Judge Johnson in the Order.

The discovery plan calls for plaintiffs to provide Fact Sheets about their case within 60 days of the order, and individuals who file a lawsuit over Chantix in the future must complete the Plaintiffs’ Fact Sheet within 60 days of their case being docketed in the MDL. Defendants will produce documents relevant to the cases between now and August 2010, with the first depositions of Pfizer employees allowed to begin in September 2010. Depositions of individual plaintiffs, family members, physicians, sales representatives and other third party witnesses will begin in December 2010.

Expert witnesses must be designated by April 2011 and May 2011, for the Plaintiffs and Defendants respectively, with expert depositions set to begin in July 2011 and conclude by October 3, 2011. Motions practice on general causation and liability will then occur through the end of 2011, with case specific expert discovery not permitted to begin until after the Court decides the issues that are generally applicable to cases in the litigation.

“The Parties shall meet and confer at a later date, once discovery that is the subject of this Plan is substantially complete, to discuss a schedule for further case specific discovery,” ordered Judge Johnson. “Until that time, absent court order, no discovery other than that permitted by this Plan may be conducted.”

Chantix (varenicline) was approved by the FDA in 2006 as a prescription medication to help people quit smoking. The drug works by reducing the positive feelings that come from cigarettes, blocking the receptors in the brain commonly stimulated by nicotine. However, the drug has been linked to increased risks of suicide and suicide attempts, aggressive behavioral changes and other psychiatric side effects, which have resulted in fatal or catastrophic injuries for many users.

The FDA has received hundreds of adverse event reports involving Chantix problems, leading to a “black box” warning being added to the medication in June 2009 about the potential psychological side effects. Pfizer has also been required to conduct clinical trials providing more data on how often neuropsychiatric symptoms with Chantix occur and what conditions cause them.

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5 comments

  1. terri Reply

    how is it that Toyota recalls are already happening…and Chantix lawsuits won’t even go to trial for two more years??

    PLUS, once everyone who has TAKEN chantix gets notice via TV/media, or letters from their prescribing doctors, OR from the pharmacy where they FILLED their scripts….there will be a major WINDFALL of lawsuits!!! By the time all is said and done, I’m guessing at LEAST HALF of all who have taken Chantix…will have had SOME SORT OF SIDE EFFECT!!

    I can’t imagine them NOT having side effects to some degree!! I took the drug and can vouch FIRST HAND…it is VERY HARD to take it…and NOT be affected. Truly, this is a POWERFUL, mind altering drug. And only those who have REALLY taken it know this to be ABSOLUTELY, UNEQUIVLICLY, (SP?) true.

    For the nay sayers…take it, yourself!! You, will know and finally believe…THIS CHANTIX IS POISON!!!!

  2. spute Reply

    why would cases not be heard until 2012? I thought that by having ALL Chantix lawsuits centralized, put in ONE court, heard by ONE judge, in ONE state, headed by a TEAM of attorneys…etc….would most DEFINITELY speed things up!!

  3. Amhs Reply

    Glad this is finally moving forward. Too many people (myself included) have been hurt by this drug. It needs to be taken off the market.

  4. Clark Reply

    How many more people (me included) must be hurt or die before the FDA decides to take this drug off the market. The FDA was created to protect U. S. citizens from drugs that are harmful to us! Phizer also knows how harmful the drug is, and they do nothing, except place adds about how Chantix has helped thousands of people stop smoking! Am I the only one who sees that this is wrong? How many more people, like you and me, must die before the government decides to pull the drug off the market. The pain and suffering has gone on long enough. If the FDA belives that this drug is good to go, with only and increase of warnings on the box, I challenge them to take it, I just hope that they have enought funeral insurance to cover there final expense’s.

  5. TERRI Reply

    I UNDERSTAND THAT CHANTIX IS A HUGE MONEY MAKER. WHAT I DON’T UNDERSTAND IS WHY THIS DRUG IS STILL ON THE MARKET…WHEN NO MATTER HOW MUCH MONEY IT MAKES…IN THE END….PROFITS WILL GET EATEN UP BY LAWSUITS???

    ….ISN’T PUSHING THIS DRUG….KNOWING THERE WILL MOST DEFINITELY BE MORE VICTIMS….A BIT REDUNDANT?? ISN’T THAT LIKE CUTTING YOUR NOSE TO SPITE YOUR FACE??? (never really understood that statement…but it felt right to say it).

    PFIZER BETTER BRACE ITSELF FOR RECORD BREAKING SETTLEMENTS/PAYOUTS. I TOOK TWO SCRIPTS AND ENJOYED TWO LONG HOSPITAL STAYS. ONE FOR POSSIBLE HEART ATTACK …THE OTHER FOR SINCERE SUICIDE ATTEMPT. SPENT SIX DAYS IN COMA AND ON A VENT. LAST RITES HAD BEEN GIVEN. SPENT PAST 2 1/2 YEARS TRYING TO RETURN TO MY PREVIOUSLY COMPFORTABLE POSITION AS MATRIARCH OF MY FAMILY….AND IT’S BEEN HELL. MY LIFE AS I KNEW IT IS RUINED AND IN THE PAST. I’VE HAD TO RE-INVENT MYSELF AND PROVE MYSELF OVER AND OVER AGAIN….JUST TO BLEND IN AGAIN.

    NO, I DID NOT TAKE CHANTIX W/HOPES OF SEVERE ADVERSE REACTION…SO I COULD TAKE AN EARLY RETIREMENT. THIS DRUG IS DANGEROUS. VERY, VERY DANGEROUS. DISTORTS YOU MIND SLOWLY BUT THOROUGHLY. AND ONCE IN YOUR SYSTEM ONLY GOD KNOWS HOW/WHERE YOU LAND.

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