The U.S. District Judge presiding over all federal Lipitor diabetes lawsuits has excluded several key plaintiffs’ expert witnesses from testifying on general causation involving doses other than the higher 80 mg version of the popular cholesterol drug, which may cut the legs out from under many women nationwide who are pursuing cases.
There are currently about 3,000 product liability lawsuits filed against Pfizer by women who allege they developed diabetes from Lipitor side effects, indicating that the drug maker failed to adequately warn consumers or the medical community.
Given the similar allegations raised in the cases, lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system are centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in the District of South Carolina as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
Following coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings, the parties have been preparing a small group of “bellwether” cases, which were expected to go before juries to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be presented throughout the claims. However, following Judge Gergel’s ruling on pretrial challenges to the admissibility of expert witness testimony, the future of the litigation is now in question.
In a case management order (PDF) issued March 30, Pfizer’s motion to exclude the testimony of several plaintiffs’ expert witnesses was granted in large part, only allowing the testimony of one expert’s causation opinion to proceed regarding the link between diabetes and Lipitor 80 mg doses.
While plaintiffs are likely to appeal the ruling, the lack of admissible expert testimony to support most of the claims will likely result in the dismissal of cases brought by women throughout the U.S. diagnosed with diabetes following Lipitor use.