Three new lawsuits were filed last week against C.B. Fleet Company, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on behalf of plaintiffs who allegedly suffered severe kidney damage from Fleet Phospho-soda laxatives used to cleanse their bowels before a colonoscopy.
The cases join dozens of other lawsuits pending throughout the United States that claim the over-the-counter oral sodium phosphate solution can cause a form of kidney damage known as acute phosphate nephropathy when it is used at double doses to clear out the bowels.
A Fleet Phospho-soda recall was issued in December 2008 after the FDA warned that the laxative should not be used as a bowel cleanser due to the kidney damage side effects.
The new complaints were filed on May 26, 2009 on behalf of plaintiffs from Washington, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. Each of the plaintiffs state that they took double doses of the laxative as part of a colonoscopy prep and later developed a kidney injury.
The kidney damage lawsuits allege that the manufacturer was aware of the potential Fleet Phospho-soda risks, yet continued to market the laxative for use at higher doses during colonoscopy prep and failed to warn consumers or the medical community.
Fleet Phospho-soda has been safely used as a laxative for decades, but over the past 15 years, C.B. Fleet began marketing the product for use at double doses before colonoscopy examinations or other surgical procedures that require the bowels to be clear. The high doses are what has been linked to the kidney damage problems.
Last month, hearings were held before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in response to C.B. Fleet’s request to have all Fleet Phospho-soda kidney damage lawsuits filed in different federal districts consolidated before one judge for pretrial litigation.
At the time the motion was filed in April, there were 63 Fleet Phospho-soda lawsuits pending throughout the United States, with 38 in federal court spread among 16 districts in 13 different states. Following the recall of Fleet Phospho-soda, the manufacturer indicated that the number of new cases filed has increased substantially, leading to their request for an MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation, to be formed.