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Janssen Supports MDL for Invokana Injury Lawsuits Pending in Federal Court System

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With a growing number of individuals nationwide filing Invokana lawsuits, each raising similar allegations that side effects of the new-generation diabetes drug caused them to suffer ketoacidosis, kidney failure, heart attacks, and other injuries, the drug maker acknowledges that it is appropriate to centralize the cases before one judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation. 

A group of plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate all Invokana injury cases last month, seeking to transfer cases pending throughout the federal court system to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues in the cases, avoid conflicting rulings from different courts and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and judicial system.

In a response in support (PDF) filed this week, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary agreed that the lawsuits need to be “consolidated and transferred to a judge with not only the skill and knowledge to efficiently and effectively manage the coordinated proceedings, but also the willingness and motivation to rein in any abuses that may result from coordination.”

The manufacturer agreed with the plaintiffs that the most appropriate judge to preside over the litigation is U.S. District Judge Brian Martinotti, who previously handled mass tort dockets as a New Jersey state court judge, before being appointed to the federal bench. In the alternative, Janssen proposed Judge Amy St. Eve, in the Northern District of Illinois.

Invokana MDL Necessary for Coordinated Litigation

Invokana (canagliflozin) is a new generation diabetes treatment 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 risks have emerged.

There are currently at least 57 Invokana injury lawsuits pending in 11 different U.S. Districts, each involving common allegations that Janssen, Johnson & Johnson and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. failed to adequately research the side effects of Invokana or warn users and the medical community about the potential risk of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), heart attacks, kidney failure and other complications.

In December 2015, the FDA required Janssen and the makers of other new-generation SGLT2 inhibitors to add new diabetic ketoacidosis warnings to their medications, 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.

In addition to concerns about ketoacidosis, a number of lawsuits filed against the drug maker alleging that the drug makers knew or should have suspected that Invokana increases the risk of kidney failure.

In May 2015, 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 identified a potential risk of kidney damage with Invokana and other SGLT2 inhibitors, raising questions about whether the benefits provided by the medication justify the risk.

In June, the FDA released a new Invokana safety warning, indicating that the medication may increase the risk of acute kidney injury and other severe health problems. There have also been growing reports of heart attacks linked to the drug.

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

As Invokana injury lawyers nationwide continue to review and file claims for individuals who suffered an injury after using the new diabetes drug, it is widely expected that hundreds, if not thousands, of additional lawsuits may be filed in the coming months and years.

It is expected that the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) will consider oral arguments on the motion, and decide where the litigation should be centralized, following an upcoming hearing session that will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina on December 1, 2016.

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