At a hearing in California next month, a panel of federal judges will hear oral arguments about whether all federal Darvon lawsuits and Darvocet lawsuits should be consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigations has scheduled a hearing for March 30th in San Diego, where they will consider the proposed consolidation of the new Darvon and Darvocet litigation, which stems from a recent recall issued for the popular painkillers containing propoxyphene due to the risk of potentially life-threatening heart problems.
There are currently at least four different lawsuits over Darvocet that have been filed against Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals in three different federal district courts. However, Darvocet lawyers who are investigating potential claims anticipate that there will ultimately be thousands of similar complaints filed on behalf of users of painkillers that contain propoxyphene.
All of the suits contain 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.
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, including heart arrythmia or sudden heart-related death.
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.
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 has opposed consolidation of the Darvocet litigation, arguing that much of the evidence and discovery in the cases will focus on the individual health of each plaintiff. The company also indicates that some plaintiffs took versions of Darvon or Darvocet that were not made by Xanodyne, arguing that the drug maker could not be held liable in those cases.
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.