Litigation in Lipitor Diabetes Cases Continues to Move Forward

Lawyers involved in the federal Lipitor litigation are set to meet today with the U.S. District Judge presiding over the cases, as discovery continues in nearly 1,000 lawsuits brought by women throughout the country who have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after use of the popular cholesterol drug.

According to a joint status report (PDF) submitted by the parties in advance of a status conference scheduled for July 18, Pfizer has recently turned over hundreds of thousands of pages of marketing material involving Lipitor, as discovery continues in the cases.

There are currently at least 959 Lipitor diabetes cases pending in the federal court system, which have been consolidated as part a multidistrict litigation (MDL) that is centralized before U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel in the District of South Carolina to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting rulings from different judges and to serve the convenience of the witnesses, parties and courts.

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In addition to the federal cases, claims have been brought on behalf of more than 300 women in various state courts, including Missouri, West Virginia and New York.

All of the cases involve similar claims that Pfizer failed to adequately warn about the Lipitor diabetes side effects, alleging that the drug maker put their desire for profits before consumer safety by aggressively marketing the blockbuster cholesterol drug while withholding information from consumers and the medical community about the risk of changes to blood glucose levels.

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 was aware of the possible risk of diabetes long before these warnings were issued, with some studies connecting statins to diabetes date as far back as 2004.

Lipitor Litigation Status

In the joint status report submitted last week, the parties outlined the discovery that has occurred since the last Lipitor MDL status conference, and the number of cases currently pending nationwide.

Late last month, Pfizer produced a supplement to certain custodial files requested by Plaintiffs and are preparing to produce an additional supplement by today. Since the last status conference, Pfizer has also produced additional clinical trial materials and has met with plaintiffs’ lawyers serving in leadership roles in the Lipitor cases to discuss production of clinical trial datasets and codebooks.

As Lipitor lawyers continue to review diabetes cases for women nationwide, it is ultimately expected that several thousand cases will be brought nationwide.

As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings before Judge Gergel, it is expected that a small group of Lipitor diabetes lawsuits will be selected as bellwether cases, which will be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be offered throughout the litigation.

Although the outcomes of these bellwether trials are not binding on other cases, they may facilitate negotiations to reach a Lipitor settlement agreement that avoids the needs for hundreds of individual trials to be scheduled throughout the country.


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