Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals is fighting an attempt to consolidate and centralize all of the lawsuits over Darvon and lawsuits over Darvocet that have been filed in the federal court system, where it is expected that thousands of cases will ultimately be filed in various different district courts over the recently recalled painkillers.
Both Darvon and Darvocet contain the active ingredient propxyphene, which is designed to relieve mild to moderate post-surgical pain.
A Darvon and Darvocet recall was issued on November 19, after the FDA determined that propoxyphene-based painkillers may increase the risk of fatal heart rhythm abnormalities, including heart arrythmia. Several lawsuits have already been filed against Xanodyne, alleging that the drug maker failed to warn doctors and patients about the potentially life-threatening side effects of Darcoet and Darvon.
Last month, one of the first plaintiffs to bring a claim, Kristine Esposito, filed a Motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation seeking to have the Darvon and Darvocet litigation centralized before one judge for pretrial proceedings in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Two other plaintiffs have filed briefs in support of consolidation, but suggesting that the cases be consolidated in either the Eastern District of Louisiana or Western District of Louisiana.
Known as an MDL, or multidistrict litigation, such centralization is common in complex product liability claims involving a large number of lawsuits over injuries associated with a particular product. The process is designed to avoid duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent rulings by different judges and to promote the efficient litigation of the cases.
There are currently only five lawsuits filed in U.S. federal courts against Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals over the recalled drugs. However, Darvon and Darvocet lawyers expect that number to quickly grow in the coming months as additional cases are reviewed and filed on behalf of individuals who have suffered heart arrhythmia, heart attacks or other cardiac problems after taking the painkillers.
In a response filed last week, Xanodyne has opposed the Motion for Transfer, arguing that much of the evidence and discovery in the cases will focus on the individual health of each patient. The company also indicates that some of the plaintiffs took versions of Darvon Darvocet that were not made by Xanodyne, arguing that the drug maker could not be held liable in those cases.
In the event that the MDL Panel determines consolidation is appropriate in the litigation over Darvocet and Darvon, Xanodyne argues that the cases should be centralized in the Eastern District of Kentucky, which is where the drug maker is headquartered. They argue that the majority of witnesses and documents are located in close proximity to that court, and it is an easily accessible and centrally located district.
The MDL Panel has already released a schedule for its next hearing on January 27, so oral arguments on the motion for consolidation of the lawsuits over Darvocet and Darvon will likely not be considered until a hearing scheduled for March 30th in San Diego, California.