As an increasing number of individuals file product liability lawsuits over Brilliant Blue G, an eye surgery dye that has been linked to reports of serious infections, the compounding pharmacy that allegedly sold the contaminated medication has filed a request to consolidate all claims pending in the federal court system before one judge, as part of a Multidistrict Litigation or MDL.
On April 12, Franck’s Compounding Lab filed a Motion to Transfer (PDF) with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), asking that all Brilliant Blue G eye surgery dye lawsuits be centralized for coordinated handling during pretrial proceedings. The pharmacy has requested that the cases be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
According to the motion, at least 16 lawsuits over Brilliant Blue G are currently pending against Franck’s pharmacy in U.S. District Courts throughout the country. All of the complaints involve similar allegations that fungal contamination in the eye surgery compound, known as triamicinolone (TMC) or Brilliang Blue G, caused eye infections and other injuries. Another 17 claims may be pending, according to the petition.
Attorneys defending the pharmacy indicate that consolidation will not only serve the convenience of the court, witnesses and both parties, but would also reduce litigation costs, and increase the ability of the compounding pharmacy and their insurer to cover any possible liability. The pharmacy has an insurance policy that has a $3 million limit.
Brilliant Blue G Eye Infection Problems
Brilliant Blue G is a compounded medication that was sold by Frank’s Compounding Lab to opthalmologists, who were told the product was safe to inject into the patient’s eyeball during surgery to help the doctor achieve desired results during the procedure.
A Brilliant Blue G recall issued on March 19, 2012, after reports of eye infections were tracked back to fungal contamination.
About two months later, the FDA issued a safety alert announcing the recall for all sterile human and veterinary prescriptions distributed by the pharmacy after investigators discovered microorganisms and fungal growth in areas of the facility that were supposed to be sterile.
According to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in May 2012, more than 30 confirmed or probable cases of fungal endophthalmitis were identified among patients who underwent eye surgery that involved products distributed by Franck’s Compounding Lab. Brilliant Blue G was linked to 20 of those cases.
The recall came just months before fungal contamination linked to epidural steroid injections by another compounding pharmacy, New England Compounding Center (NECC), led to a fungal meningitis outbreak that swept across the country. That outbreak has been linked to more than 50 deaths, 700 illnesses and an ongoing re-examination of compounding pharmacies nationwide, which some say are largely unregulated.
NECC also faces a growing number of fungal meningitis outbreak lawsuits, which drove the company into bankruptcy earlier this year, due to limit assets and insurance coverage to cover the liability.