Pfizer Opposes Creation of MDL for Lipitor Diabetes Cases

In response to a motion filed last month to consolidate all Lipitor lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system involving women diagnosed with diabetes, Pfizer indicates that they are opposed to the formation of coordinated proceedings involving their blockbuster cholesterol drug.

A motion was filed by a group of plaintiffs with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on April 26, asking for the centralization of all Lipitor diabetes cases filed in U.S. District Courts. The request asked for an MDL or Multidistrict Litigation to be established, transferring all cases to one judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

At that time, plaintiffs indicated that at least five different Lipitor cases were pending in three different districts. All of the cases involve similar allegations that Pfizer failed to adequately warn about the risk of diabetes from side effects of Lipitor.

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In a response (PDF) filed by Pfizer on May 20, the drug maker indicated that they are opposed to the creation of a Lipitor MDL, arguing that the litigation is not sufficiently big enough to require the consolidated proceedings and that such a procedure would only result in a wave of lawsuits filed by lawyers who may not otherwise be willing to litigate the claims.

Pfizer argues that three of the Lipitor diabetes cases identified by the plaintiffs are already pending before one judge, and that informal coordination of the cases can be achieved without the formation of an MDL.

LipitorĀ (atorvastatin) is a drug designed to lower cholesterol, and is a member of a class of drugs known as statins, which also includes Crestor and others. Statins collectively generate more than $14.5 billion annually, and Lipitor is the best selling drug of the class.

Plaintiffs have suggested that the number of cases pending throughout the federal court system is going to increase dramatically in the coming years as product liability lawyers continue to review and file claims for individuals diagnosed with diabetes after using Lipitor.

The increase in complaints comes after Pfizer updated the Lipitor warning label in February 2012, providing information for the first time to consumers and the medical community that there was a potential link between Lipitor and diabetes, or changes in blood sugar levels.

The U.S. JPML is expected to schedule oral arguments over the motion to consolidate the Lipitor diabetes litigation for an upcoming hearing session scheduled for July 25, in Portland, Maine.

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