Qualitest Birth Control Recall Lawsuit Centralization Sought in MDL
Amid a mounting number of product liability lawsuits filed against Endo Pharmaceuticals and its Qualitest subsidiary over a 2011 birth control pill recall, a request has been filed to centralize the federal litigation before one judge for coordinate pretrial proceedings.
A Qualitest birth control pill recall was issued issued in September 2011, after it was discovered that some of the pill-containing blister packages were rotated 180 degrees during packaging, reversing the weekly tablet orientation and leading some women to take the pills in the wrong order.
The packaging error left women without birth control protection, and reportedly led to a number of unintended pregnancies.
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While there are currently only four lawsuits filed against Qualitest in four different federal district courts nationwide, a request to consolidate the litigation that was filed last month indicates that number is likely to grow.
According to a motion (PDF) filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on April 30, plaintiffs Angela Shepherd and Lauren Betancourt ask that cases pending throughout the federal court system be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. Plaintiffs indicate that there are at least 113 individuals with identical claims that have not yet been filed.
All of the Qualitest birth control lawsuits involve similar allegations, that women suffered damages or injuries, primarily though unwanted pregnancies, due to erroneous packaging of the pills.
The recall affected more than 70 lots of Qualitest birth control pills, including Cyclafem 7/7/7, Cyclafem 1/35, Emoquette, Gildess FE 1.5/30, Gildess FE 1/20, Orsythia, Previfem and Tri-Previfem. Millions of blister packs were affected.
It was the third Qualitest drug recall over labeling problems that year. In June 2011, a manufacturing problem led to labels being swapped between bottles of generic Vicodin and Fioricet. On February 5, 2011, three lots of generic Vicodin and Phenobarbital were recalled after a bottle of Qualitest generic Vicodin was found with a Phenobarbital label.
Plaintiffs argue that centralizing the cases as part of an MDL would serve the convenience of the parties, prevent duplicative discovery and avoid conflicting pretrial rulings.
The U.S. JPML is expected to hear oral arguments on the motion during an upcoming hearing scheduled for July 31, in Kansas City, Kansas.
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