MDL Sought for Chantix Lawsuits Over Cancer-Causing Contaminants
With a growing number of Chantix class action lawsuits being pursued against Pfizer, over cancer-causing chemicals that have contaminated the stop-smoking drug, a motion has been filed which seeks to consolidate the claims before one U.S. District Judge as part of an MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
Chantix (varenicline) was introduced by Pfizer in 2006, as a prescription medication designed to help people quit smoking. However, problems with Chantix began to surface last year, when it was discovered that pills may contain dangerous levels of nitrosamines, which are believed to be a byproduct of the drug manufacturing process and may expose users to a risk of cancer.
Between June and September 2021, Pfizer announced a series of Chantix recalls, starting with limited batches of the medication sold, and later expanding the recall to include all lots of Chantix 0.5 mg and 1 mg tablets, all due to the same problems with high levels of the cancer-causing chemicals being detected in pills.
As a result of the recalls, multiple Chantix lawsuits have been filed against Pfizer seeking class action status to pursue damages for consumers who paid for the expensive smoking cessation drug, which was adulterated and unfit for its intended purpose.
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On August 31, the County of Monmouth, New Jersey filed a motion (PDF) with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), calling for all Chantix lawsuits and any other tag-along actions asserting similar claims against Pfizer Inc. to be centralized in the District of New Jersey, as part of a federal multidistrict litigation (MDL).
The motion indicates there are at least eight nearly identical class action lawsuits awaiting pretrial discovery in separate federal courts, each raising similar questions of fact and law revolving around Pfizer’s Chantix medications that were adulterated or defective due to the presence of nitrosamine contamination.
The County further petitions the JPML to transfer the cases to the District of New Jersey, claiming this venue is proper and is where Pfizer has admitted multiple witnesses are located. The motion states little would be gained by consolidating the cases in New York, where Pfizer’s headquarters are located, since the medication was largely tested and manufactured oversees in Ireland and Germany.
The request to consolidate the Chantix lawsuits comes after the JPML has formed several other coordinated proceedings for Zantac lawsuits and valsartan lawsuits filed over the same chemical impurities that contaminated the popular heartburn and blood pressure drugs.
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