Many patients who took Lipitor and developed diabetes could be facing a deadline, or statute of limitations, on their ability to pursue a product liability claim against Pfizer for failure to provide adequate warnings about the potential side effects of the blockbuster cholesterol medication.
Pfizer faces a growing number Lipitor diabetes claims filed in state and federal courts throughout the country, which all involve similar allegations that otherwise healthy women developed diabetes after using the medication to reduce their cholesterol levels.
Every injury case has a statute of limitations, or deadline by which any cause of action must be filed in court. While different states have different time-frames and rules surrounding the statute of limitations that may apply to the Lipitor litigation, many states require that claims be filed within two years after an individual discovers or could have discovered the link between a prescription medication and an injury.
For cases involving women diagnosed with diabetes more than two years ago, some legal experts anticipate that Pfizer will attempt to argue that the statute of limitations on their claims began running in February 2012, when warnings were added to the Lipitor warning label for the first time informing users about the potential impact the medication may have on blood sugar levels.
Although plaintiffs’ lawyers are expected to argue that the warnings issued at that time were insufficient to start the statute of limitations, many new complaints may be filed over the coming weeks in states with a two year deadline to ensure that a subsequent interpretation of the Lipitor statute of limitations does not result in their case being barred.
Lipitor Diabetes Litigation
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.
Given the widespread use of Lipitor, which has generated more than $125 billion in sales since 1996, it is expected that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of lawsuits may ultimately be filed by former users of the medication. There are currently only about 100 cases filed, but Lipitor injury lawyers are continuing to review and file new lawsuits as women learn about the link between the cholesterol drug and their diabetes diagnosis.
All of the complaints raise similar allegations that Pfizer placed their desire for profits before consumers safety by withholding information about the risk of diabetes. Women allege that if they had been provided proper warnings, they could have avoided diabetes by choosing not to take the cholesterol drug or by diligently monitoring their blood glucose levels during treatment.
Although lawsuits allege that Pfizer has been aware of the Lipitor diabetes risk for many years, warnings were not added until February 2012, when the FDA required an update for all statin-based cholesterol drugs. However, many plaintiffs maintain that even those warnings were weak and misleading, failing to adequately inform users about the true extent of the risk.
Amid the growing number of lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, a panel of judges are scheduled to hear oral arguments later this month over whether to establish consolidated pretrial proceedings for the Lipitor litigation. Plaintiffs have requested that complaints filed in U.S. District Courts throughout the country be centralized before one judge to reduce duplicative discovery into common issues, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the courts.
Pfizer has opposed the formation of a Lipitor MDL, or multidistrict litigation, arguing that it will delay the proceedings and artificially inflate the number of cases presented nationwide. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) previously rejected an earlier request, but has agreed to hear oral arguments in a renewed motion on January 30, which argues that the scope of the litigation has changed substantially, warranting coordinated pretrial proceedings.