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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided to centralize all Invokana lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system before one U.S. District Judge in New Jersey for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. However, similar Farxiga lawsuits and Jardiance lawsuits will not be included in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) at this time.
There are currently at least 55 complaints pending against Johnson & Johnson and it’s Janssen subsidiary filed in federal courts nationwide, each involving similar allegations that the drug maker failed to adequately warn about the potential risks of kidney failure, diabetic acidosis and heart attacks linked to side effects of Invokana.
In September, a group plaintiffs filed a motion to centralize all Invokana cases before one judge, as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation. The process is common in complex pharmaceutical litigation, and is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts. Consolidation was supported by Johnson & Johnson.
Following oral arguments heard last week, the panel issued a transfer order (PDF) on Wednesday to establish a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) for the Invokana cases, given the similar questions of fact and law raised in the complaints. The cases are to be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey under District Judge Brian Martinotti.
However, the court is only including lawsuits involving claims linked to Invokana and Invokamet, a combination of Invokana and metformin. The panel decided not to include similar claims raised over side effects of other diabetes drugs that are part of the same new class of medications, known as sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors, which also includes the medications Farxiga, Jardiance, Glyzambi and Xigduo.
Other Diabetes Excluded From MDL
Invokana (canagliflozin) was the first member of this new generation diabetes drug to hit the market, and it has been aggressively marketed by Janssen since March 2013, as a superior treatment option for diabetics. Since that time, a steady stream of new SGLT2 inhibitors have been introduced by other drug makers.
Sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors work in a unique way, by altering some normal kidney functions to increase the amount of suger excreted in the urine. However, as more individuals have switched to these new generation diabetes treatments, a number of serious health risks have emerged, including diabetic ketoacidosis, heart attacks and kidney failure.
Although several of similar lawsuits have been filed against the makers of Farxiga, Jardiance and other SGLT-2 inhibitors, the JPML determined that the Invokana MDL will not include claims stemming from those other medications.
“On the current record, we are not convinced that the MDL should include claims involving Farxiga, Jardiance, or any other (SGLT2) inhibitor, including any such claims in ‘combination cases,'” the transfer order states. “Centralizing competing defendants in the same MDL may unnecessarily complicate case management, due to the need to protect trade secret and confidential information. In addition, a multi-defendant MDL may prolong pretrial proceedings, because of, inter alia, the possible need for separate discovery and motion tracks, as well as the need for additional bellwether trials.”
Both plaintiffs and defendants supported an MDL that only involved Invokana cases and Invokamet cases during the oral arguments and in their petitions, the JPML indicated.
As Invokana injury lawyers continue to review and file complaints involving problems stemming from this widely used SGLT-2 inhibitor, it is expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits will ultimately be transferred into the MDL.
Following coordinated pretrial proceedings and any bellwether trials scheduled to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony, if Invokana settlements are not reached by the drug maker, each individual case may be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for a separate trial in the future.