On Wednesday, a panel of federal judges will hear oral arguments over whether to consolidate a growing number of Darvocet lawsuits and Darvon lawsuits that have been filed over heart problems allegedly caused by the recalled pain medications.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will decide whether to consolidate and centralize the Darvon and Darvocet recall litigation before one court for pre-trial proceedings.
When plaintiffs first requested the consolidation in December, there were only four cases that had been filed in various federal district courts throughout the United States. Since that time, several new lawsuits over Darvocet heart problems have been filed and some Darvocet lawyers expect that thousands are cases are likely to ultimately be filed by former users diagnosed with a heart arrythmia or sudden heart-related death from side effects of the medication.
A Darvon and Darvocet recall was issued on November 19, after the FDA determined that propoxyphene-based painkillers may increase the risk of heart rhythm abnormalities.
In December, one of the first plaintiffs to bring a claim, Kristine Esposito, filed a Motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation seeking to have the Darvon and Darvocet litigation centralized before one judge for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Two other plaintiffs have filed briefs in support of consolidation, but suggesting that the cases be consolidated in either the Eastern District of Louisiana or Western District of Louisiana.
The plaintiffs seek to have the cases consolidated since all of the Darvon and Darvocet suits contain similar allegations that the manufacturer failed to adequately research the side effects of Darvocet and Darvon and failed to warn doctors and patients that propoxyphene-based drugs caused heart rhythm problems that could sometimes be fatal.
Known as an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, such centralization is common in complex product liability claims involving a large number of lawsuits over injuries associated with a particular product. The process is designed to avoid duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent rulings by different judges and to promote the efficient litigation of the cases.
Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the name-brand versions of Darvon and Darvocet, has opposed consolidation of the litigation, arguing that much of the evidence and discovery in the cases will focus on the individual health of each plaintiff. In addition, the company points out that many of the cases involve the use of generic Darvocet or Darvon, which is available from a number of different drug makers.
In the event that the MDL Panel determines consolidation is appropriate in the litigation over Darvocet and Darvon, Xanodyne argues that the cases should be centralized in the Eastern District of Kentucky, which is where the drug maker is headquartered. They argue that the majority of witnesses and documents are located in close proximity to that court, and it is an easily accessible and centrally located district.