During the first month after all federal Lipitor diabetes cases were centralized for pretrial proceedings, more than 250 lawsuits have already been transferred to the U.S. District Court in South Carolina for coordinated handling as part of the MDL, or Multidistrict Litigation.
On February 18, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established consolidated proceedings for all federal product liability lawsuits filed against Pfizer that involve allegations that women developed diabetes from Lipitor.
The cases were centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel in South Carolina to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
At the time the Lipitor MDL was established, there were 56 cases pending in U.S. District Courts throughout the country, with 14 of those cases already pending in South Carolina. Since that time, more than 160 other cases have already been moved into the MDL and transfer orders issued this week by the U.S. JPML have identified more than 50 other claims that should be included in the proceedings, placing the total number of Lipitor diabetes cases in the MDL well over 250.
All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately research their blockbuster medication or provide adequate warnings for women about the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially among otherwise health women who did not have other risk factors that may lead to the development of the disease.
As lawyers continue to review and file additional Lipitor cases throughout the federal court system, many expect that there will ultimately be several thousand cases brought by women diagnosed with diabetes following use of the drug.
Lipitor Diabetes Side Effects
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is one of the most widely used brand-name medications in the United States, which has been used by millions of individuals to help lower cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of heart disease.
The medication is part of a class of cholesterol drugs known as statins, which generate more than $14 billion per year in sales. Statins use the liver to block the body’s creation of cholesterol, which is a key contributor to coronary artery disease. However, a number of studies have linked the drugs to an increased risk of potentially serious injuries, including muscle damage, kidney problems and diabetes.
In February 2012, the FDA required the makers of Lipitor, Crestor and other statins to add new warnings about the potential impact of the medication on blood glucose levels. However, many critics have suggested that the warnings are not strong enough for certain medications, indicating that users and the medical community should be provided with more accurate information about the diabetes risks from Lipitor, Crestor and other statins.
As part of the coordinated proceedings in the federal Lipitor litigation, it is expected that a small group of cases will ultimately be selected for early trial dates, to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will likely be repeated throughout the litigation. These “bellwether” trials are designed to facilitate a possible Lipitor settlement agreement or other resolution for the litigation without scheduling hundreds of individual trial dates throughout the country.
The initial status conference with Judge Gergel in the MDL has been scheduled for March 27.