Lipitor MDL Sought Again for Lawsuits over Diabetes Among Women
As the number of Lipitor diabetes lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system continues to increase, a new request has been filed to centralize the litigation before one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings as part of an MDL or multidistrict litigation.
On October 10, a Motion (PDF) was filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), asking that a Lipitor MDL be created for all product liability lawsuits filed against Pfizer by women who allege that they developed diabetes from Lipitor side effects.
A similar request was filed earlier this year asking for centralized management of the Lipitor litigation to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts. However, following a hearing in July, the U.S. JPML denied the request to establish a Lipitor MDL, indicating that an insufficient number of cases had been brought to justify the formal consolidation.
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According to the renewed Motion to Transfer filed last week by plaintiff Dianne Christopher, there are now at least 62 Lipitor lawsuits pending in 21 different, which involve a total of 131 plaintiffs. At the time the first request was filed, there were only five cases pending in 3 different federal districts, with that number reaching 24 cases in 10 different districts by the time the original request was denied.
“This substantial expansion of the litigation represents precisely the sort of changed circumstances that warrant revisiting the Panel’s prior decision denying centralization,” wrote attorneys for Christopher in the Motion, which argues that the substantial majority of the cases are in the same early procedural stage and points out that there are now at least 26 different sets of attorneys representing plaintiffs.
Christopher is proposing the litigation be centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel in the District of South Carolina, where at least 14 of the cases are currently pending.
Lipitor (atorvastatin) is one of the most widely used brand-name medications in the United States, with millions of Americans taking the medication to help lower cholesterol and improve their health. Before it became available as a generic in 2011, Pfizer generated more than $125 billion in Lipitor sales.
All of the complaints brought throughout the federal court system involve similar allegations that women developed diabetes from Lipitor, after taking the cholesterol medication to improve their overall health. The lawsuits claim that Pfizer failed to adequately research the potential side effects of the medication or warn users and the medical community about the potential risk of diabetes.
In February 2012, the FDA required new diabetes warnings for Lipitor and other similar statins, informing users for the first time that they may face an increased risk of changes to blood glucose levels. However, plaintiffs allege that Pfizer knew or should have known about the possible risk of diabetes long before these warnings were issued, with some studies connecting statins to diabetes date as far back as 2004.
Plaintiffs maintain that if they had been provided proper warnings about the Lipitor risks, they could have avoided diabetes by choosing not to take the cholesterol drug or by diligently monitoring their blood glucose levels during treatment.
Many estimates suggest that thousands of cases will be filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide as Lipitor lawyers continue to review potential claims for women diagnosed with diabetes.
Pfizer previously opposed the first attempt to establish a Lipitor MDL, and the drug maker is not expected to respond to this latest Motion until early next month.
It is likely that the U.S. JPML will schedule oral arguments on the issue for an upcoming hearing session set to occur on December 5 in Las Vegas or January 30, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
BeckyDecember 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm
My husband took Lipitor for years and was diagnosed with type two diabetes. He is not overweight and never has been, he weighs about 190 and he is 6' 1". The most he has ever weighed was 215. His father or mother did not have diabetes. Why is the law suit just for women.
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