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Motion Filed to Centralize Lipitor Lawsuits Over Diabetes Side Effects

A request has been filed to consolidate all Lipitor diabetes lawsuits pending in the federal court system, asking that the litigation be centralized before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL or Multi-District Litigation.

The motion (PDF) was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on Friday, by group of plaintiffs who have filed product liability lawsuits against Pfizer alleging that inadequate warnings were provided for consumers or the medical community about the risk of diabetes from Lipitor side effects.

So far this year, at least five different Lipitor lawsuits have been filed in three different U.S. District Courts throughout the country, and the motion indicates that given the widespread use of the blockbuster cholesterol drug, numerous additional complaints are expected.

The plaintiffs call for the cases to be centralized in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina to prevent duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, the parties and the courts.

Lipitor Diabetes Litigation

Lipitor (atorvastatin) is among the best selling drugs in the world, with millions of people receiving the medication to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. The drug is mart of a class of medications known as statins, which generates more than $14.5 billion in combined annual sales.

In February 2012, Pfizer updated the Lipitor warning label, adding information to the “Warnings and Precautions” section of the medication for the first time that indicated a potential link between Lipitor and diabetes or changes in blood sugar levels.

A growing number of women are now filing lawsuits over Lipitor, alleging that Pfizer withheld information about the potential diabetes side effects, even though it appears that the risk may have been known for some time.

Complaints allege that otherwise healthy women took Lipitor as a proactive measure to maintain their healthy lifestyle, yet now they have developed diabetes from Lipitor, which requires regular blood glucose level testing, restrictive diabetic diets and the need for other medications to control the diabetes.

As a result of complications associated with diabetes from Lipitor, plaintiffs also indicate that they now face an increased risk of heart disease, blindness, neuropathy, kidney disease and other health problems.

“Because of the common issues of fact and the number of current and anticipated claims, these cases are well suited for transfer and pretrial consolidation,” according to arguments raised in the MDL petition filed by plaintiffs Evalina Smalls, Waltraud Gina Kane and Susan Marie Turner.

The U.S. JPML is expected to hear oral arguments over the consolidation of the Lipitor diabetes litigation for an upcoming hearing session scheduled for July 25, in Portland, Maine.

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