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Decision to Consolidate Darvocet Lawsuits Deferred Until July MDL Hearing

Following a hearing in March, a panel of federal judges has decided not to make a decision yet about whether to consolidate all federal Darvocet lawsuits and Darvon lawsuits as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. A decision has been deferred until further arguments are heard at a hearing in July 2011.

A motion was filed in December with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to centralize before one judge all claims for heart-related problems allegedly caused by the recalled painkillers.

The request came less than a month after a Darvon and Darvocet recall was issued for both the name brand medications, as well as many generic pain medications that contain propoxyphene. The drugs were removed from the market after the FDA determined that propoxyphene-based painkillers may increase the risk of heart rhythm abnormalities

At the time the petition was made to consolidate the Darvocet litigation, only four cases had been filed in federal district courts throughout the United States against Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals and Eli Lilly & Co., the manufacturers of name brand Darvocet and Darvon.

At a hearing held on March 30, 2011, Xanodyne and Eli Lilly opposed centralization of the Darvon and Darvocet cases as part of an MDL, arguing that much of the evidence and discovery in the cases will focus on the individual health of each patient. In addition, the drug makers indicated that many of the plaintiffs who filed the first lawsuits may have taken generic equivalents of the drugs that were made by other companies.

According to an order issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on April 11, the litigation has now grown to include at least 18 known lawsuits against more than a dozen different drug makers or distributors.

Since most of the defendants have not had an opportunity to express their views on the merits of centralizing the litigation as part of an MDL, the Panel has scheduled additional arguments to be heard at their hearing session on July 28, 2011, which will be held at the Phillip Burton U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco, California.

While the litigation is still in it’s early stages, many Darvocet lawyers expect that thousands of cases are likely to ultimately be filed by former users of the pain medication who have been diagnosed with a heart arrythmia or sudden heart-related death. Plaintiffs argue that centralization before one judge for pretrial litigation will reduce the need for duplicative discovery, eliminate contradictory rulings from different courts and serve the convenience of the parties, the witnesses and the courts.

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