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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: December 13th, 2013
According to allegations raised in a product liability lawsuit filed earlier this month, a Kentucky women claims that her type 2 diabetes diagnosis may have been avoided if Pfizer had provided adequate warnings for her or her doctor about the potential side effects of Lipitor.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Helen Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky on December 5, indicating that Robinson was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes following years of taking Lipitor as a preventative measure to lower her cholesterol levels and reduce her risk of suffering heart disease.
Robinson claims she was unaware that Lipitor may cause diabetes when she began using the medication in 2008. In about August 2012, Robinson was diagnosed with hyperglycemia and ultimately told she had type 2 diabetes in December 2012.
As a result of the diabetes diagnosis from Lipitor, Robinson indicates that she now needs to closely monitor her blood glucose levels for the rest of her life, follow a restrictive diabetic diet and take medications to control the disease. In addition, she now not only faces an increased risk of the heart disease she was trying to avoid by using Lipitor, but also faces an increased risk of suffering from blindness, neuropathy, kidney disease and other serious health problems.
“Had [Pfizer] properly disclosed the risks associated with Lipitor, Plaintiff Helen Robinson would have avoided the risk of diabetes by either not using Lipitor at all or by closely monitoring her blood glucose levels to see if the drug was adversely affecting her metabolism,” according to allegations raised in the complaint.
Lipitor Type 2 Diabetes Lawsuits
Robinson’s case is one of a growing number of Lipitor diabetes lawsuits filed throughout the United States, which have been brought by women who were at a generally healthy weight prior to using the medication and lived an active lifestyle before receiving the drug as a heart disease prophylactic.
All of the complaints include similar allegations that Pfizer aggressively promoted the widespread use of Lipitor while failing to adequately warn about the minimal effectiveness of the medication for women and the impact the drug may have on blood glucose levels.
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is one of the most widely used brand-name medications, which has been used by millions of Americans and generated more than $125 billion in sales for Pfizer before it became available as a generic in 2011.
In February 2012, the FDA required new diabetes warnings for Lipitor and other similar statin-based medications, informing users for the first time that they may face an increased risk of changes to blood glucose levels. However, plaintiffs allege that Pfizer knew or should have known about the possible risk of diabetes long before these warnings were issued, with some studies connecting statins to diabetes date as far back as 2004.
Robinson’s lawsuit accuses Pfizer of negligence, failure to warn, breach of implied warranty, fraud, fraudulent concealment, and unjust enrichment. She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
Motion to Centralize Lipitor Litigation
As the number of Lipitor complaints over type 2 diabetes diagnosis continue to mount nationwide, a request has been filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate and centralize the cases before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
There are currently more than 100 complaints pending against Pfizer in over 20 different federal district courts. However, as Lipitor diabetes lawyers continue to review and file cases for women throughout the U.S., it is ultimately expected that thousands of cases will be brought.
The U.S. JPML is expected to hear oral arguments on a motion to establish a Lipitor MDL, or multidistrict litigation, early next year. While Pfizer has opposed centralization of the cases, plaintiffs maintain that the coordinated pretrial management of the litigation will reduce duplicative discovery across thousands of cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.
If the MDL is established, Robinson’s lawsuit and other similar claims brought by women diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after Lipitor use will be centralized before one judge for discovery and a series of “bellwether” trials, which are typically scheduled to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout a number of cases.
Following the coordinated pretrial proceedings, if a Lipitor settlement is not reached to resolve the litigation, each individual claim may ultimately be returned back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for separate trial dates throughout the country.