Initial Status Conference for Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuit MDL Set for March 7

Group of 18 Suboxone lawyers have submitted a consensus motion for the plaintiffs' leadership committee, which will take actions that benefit all individuals pursuing lawsuits over tooth decay from Suboxone

The U.S. District Judge recently appointed to preside over all federal Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits will hold an initial status conference next week, at which time the organizational structure and schedule for the coordinated pretrial proceedings in the rapidly growing litigation will be discussed.

Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002, for treatment of recovering opioid addicts; helping them avoid withdrawal symptoms while undergoing therapy to help them break their addiction.

While originally sold as a tablet, the drug makers subsequently introduced Suboxone film, which users place beneath the tongue until it is dissolved. However, thousands of users have reported experiencing devastating tooth decay from Suboxone film, often resulting in broken on extracted teeth. Now complaints are being pursued against the drug makers for failing to disclose the risks to users and the medical community.

It was not until early 2022 that Suboxone tooth decay warnings were added to the medication, after the FDA identified more than 300 cases of dental damage reported to the agency. Plaintiffs each raise similar allegations, indicating that they may have avoided permanent tooth decay problems if they had been warned about the risks and instructed to take certain steps to avoid erosion of enamel and tooth loss.

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Lawsuits are being pursued by users of Suboxone who experienced tooth loss, broken teeth or required dental extractions. Settlement benefits may be available.

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Given similar questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, in early February the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) ordered all Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits filed in any federal court centralized under U.S. District Judge Philip Calabrese in the Northern District of Ohio for pretrial proceedings, where similar MDL proceedings were previously administered for lawsuits stemming from the opioid abuse epidemic.

At the time the lawsuits were consolidated, there were already 15 lawsuits filed in five different federal district courts. However, since then, the JPML has been notified of 11 additional related actions filed in nine districts, and lawyers are expected to file thousands of claims before the two year anniversary of the warning label update later this year.

Initial Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuit Status Conference

With Suboxone tooth decay lawsuits now consolidated into a MDL, or multidistrict litigation, it is expected that Judge Calabrese will put a schedule in place to prepare some representative cases for early bellwether trials, to help the parties gauge how juries mage respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be likely repeated throughout the litigation.

On February 7 Judge Calabrese issued a case management order (PDF), calling for an initial status conference to be held on March 7. The conference is meant to help the parties and the Court lay out the beginning stages of the coordinated pretrial proceedings.

The order called for lawyers to file a joint memorandum today, addressing several issues, including whether some cases involve different common issues of law or fact; how many additional cases are anticipated; whether there are likely to be Suboxone tooth decay class action lawsuits filed in the future, protocols for discovery and other key issues.

Suboxone Tooth Decay Lawsuit Leadership Positions

In addition, Judge Calabrese indicated in the order that he intends to appoint certain plaintiffs’ Suboxone tooth decay attorneys to leadership positions in the litigation, who will represent all who have filed a complaint over dental erosion caused by the opioid addiction treatment. The court indicated that it would accept applications for Plaintiffs’ Suboxone lawyers seeking leadership until today.

In a consensus motion (PDF) filed on February 27, a group of 18 lawyers joined together to propose a leadership slate for the plaintiffs, indicating that all parties currently involved in the litigation agree with the proposal, which includes four lawyers who would serve as co-lead counsel, another five attorneys that will be included in a Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee and nine additional lawyers who will be part of a Plaintiffs’ steering committee, taking certain actions during discovery and pretrial proceedings that benefit all individuals pursuing a Suboxone tooth decay lawsuit.

In complex pharmaceutical litigation, where large numbers of claims are brought by users of the same medication or medical product, each experiencing the same or similar injuries, it is common for the U.S. JPML to centralize the litigation to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues that will arise in all claims, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings and to serve the convenience of certain witnesses and parties who will be required to testify in each of the lawsuits.

Following coordinated discovery and any bellwether trials in the Suboxone MDL, if the parties are unable to agree to tooth decay settlements or another resolution for the dental injury claims, each individual claim would later be remanded back to the U.S. District Court where it was originally filed for trial.


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