Invokana Case Consolidation Arguments To Be Heard By JPML Tomorrow

With a growing number of Invokana lawsuits continuing to be filed throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is set to hear oral arguments tomorrow over whether to centralize the cases before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

There are currently about 60 product liability cases pending nationwide against Johnson & Johnson and it’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, each involving similar allegations that consumers and the medical community were not adequately warned about the risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, kidney failure, heart attacks and other injuries recently associated with side effects of Invokana.

However, as Invokana lawyers continue to review and file cases in the coming weeks and months, it is widely expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of complaints will be filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide.

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In September, a group plaintiffs filed a motion to centralize all Invokana cases before one judge, as part of a federal MDL, or multidistrict litigation. The process is common in complex pharmaceutical litigation, and is designed to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of witnesses, parties and the courts.

Plaintiffs proposed that all cases pending nationwide be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit filed a response last month, indicating that it agrees that is the most appropriate venue for the Invokana litigation. However, the U.S. JPML will consider any oral arguments on the motion during a hearing set for Thursday, at the Charles R. Jonas Federal Building in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Invokana Litigation

Invokana (canagliflozin) is a new generation diabetes drug introduced by Janssen in March 2013, which has been aggressively marketed as a superior treatment option for diabetics. However, as more individuals have switched to the medication, a steady stream of serious health concerns have emerged, leading to several new warnings required by federal regulators.

In December 2015, the FDA announced that Janssen would add new diabetic ketoacidosis warnings to Invokana, urging users to stop taking the drug and seek immediate medical attention if they experience symptoms like abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, respiratory problems or vomiting.

Diabetic ketoacidosis problems from Invokana involve a dangerous buildup of acid in the blood, which often results in the need for emergency hospitalization.

A number of cases filed by users nationwide also allege that inadequate warnings were provided about the risk of kidney failure from Invokana, indicating that the drug makers knew or should have known that the medication may be toxic to the kidneys, since it works in a unique way by impacting normal functions of the kidney to allow more sugar to pass from the body through urine.

Shortly after the drug was introduced, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) conducted a detailed review of adverse event reports submitted to the FDA during the first year Invokana was on the market, and raised questions about whether the risks may outweigh the benefits provided by the medication, since so many reports involving kidney failure or other kidney problems were identified.

In June 2016, the FDA announced that new Invokana kidney warnings would be added to the drug, indicating that users may face an increased the risk of acute kidney injury and other severe health problems.

Recently, a growing number of Invokana heart attack lawsuits have also been filed, alleging the medication poses serious cardiovascular risks.

If the U.S. JPML centralizes the cases before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is likely that a small group of representative Invokana cases will be prepared for early trial dates to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

While the outcomes of such “bellwether” cases are not binding on other lawsuits, they may influence eventual negotiations with the drug maker to reach Invokana settlements and avoid the need for hundreds of individual trial dates in courts nationwide.

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