Nerve Damage Lawsuits over Levaquin, Avelox, Cipro Continue to Mount with MDL Motion Pending

A growing number of peripheral neuropathy lawsuits continue to be filed against the makers of Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro, as the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation prepares to hear oral arguments next month over whether to consolidate all cases pending in the federal court system as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.

All of the complaints involve similar allegations that plaintiffs suffered severe and permanent nerve damage from the antibiotics, which are all part of a class of medications known as fluoroquinolones.

Last month, a motion was filed by a group of plaintiffs seeking establish an MDL for all federal nerve damage lawsuits over Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro, asking that the cases be centralized before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings. At that time, there were about 24 cases pending in 16 different U.S. District Courts, all involving claims that the manufacturers failed to provide adequate warnings for consumers and the medical community.

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The manufacturers filed a response earlier this month, opposing the creation of an MDL for the fluoroquinolone lawsuits. The drug makers indicated that there are too many different antibiotics involved in the complaints and too few currently filed cases to justify centralization.

According to a brief (PDF) filed by plaintiffs last week, the number of pending cases has more than doubled over the past month, with 49 complaints currently pending in 29 different federal districts, involving more than 20 separate law firms. In addition, as lawyers continue to review and file lawsuits over Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro, it is ultimately expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints will be brought by individuals nationwide.

Plaintiffs argue that centralizing the cases as part of an MDL will reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.

The U.S. JPML is scheduled to hear oral arguments on the motion during an upcoming hearing session set for July 30, in San Francisco, California.

Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox Nerve Damage Side Effects

Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro are among the most widely used antibiotics in the United States, which are all part of the same class of drugs, known as fluoroquinolones.

In August 2013, the FDA required the makers of all fluoroquinolones to provide stronger warnings about the peripheral neuropathy risk from the antibiotics, indicating problems may last for months or years after an individual stops taking the drug.

Peripheral neuropathy involves damage to the nerves that may impair sensation, movement and other aspects of health. This may leave users with persistent pain, burning, tingling, numbness, weakness and sensitivity to light touches, temperature and motion in the arms and legs, as well as other problems that cause a major disruption to daily activities.

According to allegations raised in Levaquin lawsuits, Cipro lawsuits, and Avelox lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, the prior warnings provided by the drug makers were misleading, suggesting that reports of peripheral neuropathy among users were rare and that the nerve problems resolve when the medications are no longer used. The new label warnings indicated that the problems could be permanent and urge doctors to consider switching patients to a different class of antibiotics if they experience symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

Plaintiffs maintain that the drug makers knew or should have known for years about the link between peripheral neuropathy and antibiotic use, with indications raised in a study published as early as 2001, which highlighted reports of 45 patients who suffered persistent peripheral nervous system damage. Plaintiffs maintain that if adequate warnings had been provided about the risk of permanent neuropathy problems, they may have avoided painful and debilitating injuries.

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