The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided to consolidated all federal EpiPen lawsuits filed over price manipulation of the emergency allergy shot, centralizing the cases before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
Currently there are five separate complaints pending against Mylan in four different U.S. District Courts, each raising nearly identical allegations about anticompetitive conduct or unfair marketing practices associated with the critical, life-saving treatment. Most, if not all, of the complaints seek class action status to present claims for various groups of potential consumers who have used or need to use the injections, potentially impacting millions of Americans.
Given the similar questions of fact and law presented in the cases, a group of plaintiffs filed a request to consolidate the EpiPen cases before one judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. After initially opposing consolidation, Mylan also agreed that the cases should be consolidated during oral arguments presented late last month.
In a transfer order (PDF) issued on August 3, the U.S. JPML determined that all pending and future cases should be transferred to U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree in the District of Kansas for coordinated pretrial proceedings.
“These actions share factual questions arising from Mylan’s alleged dominance in the market for epinephrine auto-injectors and recent increases of the price for the EpiPen,” the JPML wrote. “Centralization thus will eliminate duplicative discovery; prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings, including with respect to class certification; and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel, and the judiciary.”
The emergency allergy auto-injectors provide a critical treatment for individuals with severe allergies or asthma attacks. Many individuals carry an EpiPen at all times to inject epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens the airways to the lungs, in the event they are having a serious or life-threatening allergy or asthma attack.
The pens contain epinephrine, commonly referred to as adrenaline, a hormone that can reverse severe low blood pressure and increase the heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure, and sugar metabolism. Treatment of epinephrine can also reverse wheezing, severe skin itching, hives and various other symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Mylan has been the subject of Congressional hearings, lawsuits and public ridicule and derision since it sextupled the price of the epinephrine shots after purchasing the EpiPen brand in 2007. Critics claim that Mylan is price-gouging consumers by charging $600 for a pack of two EpiPens, which cost about $100 just 10 years ago.