State and federal court trials are scheduled to begin in April and May, respectively, for claims over tendon ruptures from Levaquin, an antibiotic made by Johnson & Johnson.
More than 2,500 Levaquin lawsuits have been filed on behalf of individuals who allege that the drug maker failed to adequately research their medication or warn about the risk of tendon damage. Of those cases, 1512 are pending in New Jersey state court and 990 are pending in federal court, where the litigation has been centralized for pretrial preceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota before U.S. District Judge John Tunheim.
During a status conference earlier this month before Judge Tunheim, the parties confirmed that a New Jersey state court Levaquin trial is scheduled to begin on April 11, 2011, and it is anticipated that it will last four to six weeks. That case will be followed by a federal trial in the MDL, which is set to begin on May 31, 2011. A third trial is scheduled to begin on September 12, 2011 in California state court, but the parties indicated that date may likely change.
Only one Levaquin lawsuit has reached a jury so far, resulting in a $1.8 million verdict in federal court in December. That case, brought by John Schedin, was the first of six federal claims selected to serve as a bellwether trial, which are designed to gauge how juries are likely to respond to testimony, evidence and arguments that will be similar in other cases. The second federal bellwether trial, set to begin on May 31, will be a case selected by the Defendants.
Levaquin (levofloxacin) is an antibiotic approved by the FDA in 1996 to prevent infection by stopping the reproduction of bacteria. However, it has been linked to an increased risk of tendon damage and tendon ruptures, particularly involving the Achilles tendon.
In July 2008, the FDA required that a “black box” warning be added about the side effects of Levaquin and other similar antibiotics, which is the strongest warning that can be placed on a prescription medication. However, consumer advocates called for Levaquin tendon rupture warnings to be added at least two years earlier, with Public Citizen filing a petition with the FDA in 2006, insisting that consumers and the medical community be provided with clearer warnings about the risk of tendon damage.