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The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Invokana lawsuits will hold a “Science Day” in July, at which time the parties will make non-adversarial presentations designed to educate the court about the link between use of the new-generation diabetes drugs and reports of diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, heart attacks and other injuries.
Since December 2016, all federal product liability lawsuits filed against Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical over failure to warn about the side effects of Invokana have been centralized before U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti in the District of New Jersey, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations that the medication caused users to suffer diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, heart attacks and other injuries.
Given the similar questions of fact and law raised in the lawsuits, the cases are consolidated before Judge Martinotti to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and judicial system.
While there are currently only about 100 claims pending nationwide, as Invokana lawyers continue to review and file complaints on behalf of individuals who experienced problems after switching to the new diabetes treatment, it is ultimately expected that several thousand lawsuits will be consolidated before Judge Martinotti for coordinated discovery and a series of bellwether trials.
According to a docket entry posted earlier this month, a “Science Day Presentation Conference” in the Invokana MDL has been for July 19, at which time Judge Martinotti and Magistrate Judge Lois H. Goodman will hear information from both sides that is typically not part of the record or subject to cross-examination.
Judge Martinotti first indicated in January that a “Science Day” would be held to educate the court about the scientific literature and evidence that will come up in the Invokana litigation. State court judges presiding over Invokana claims are also expected to be invited to hear the presentations, according to the January order.
Invokana (canagliflozin) was the first member of a new generation diabetes drug to hit the market in recent years, known as sodium glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT-2) inhibitors, which work in a unique way by altering some normal kidney functions to increase the amount of suger excreted in the urine. Other members of this new class include Farxiga, Jardiance, Invokamet and others.
Amid aggressive marketing by Janssen, which encouraged diabetics to switch to this new treatment option, Invokana quickly became a top selling drug in the U.S. However, a number of serious health risks have also emerged, including increased incidents of diabetic ketoacidosis, heart attacks and kidney failure.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the Invokana MDL, it is expected that Judge Martinotti will establish a bellwether program, which would prepare a small group of cases for early trial dates to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
Following the test trials, if the manufacturer fails to reach Invokana settlement agreements or another resolution for the cases, hundreds of individual claims may be remanded back to U.S. District Courts nationwide for separate trial dates.