Four Tepezza Hearing Loss Lawsuits Selected By Plaintiffs For Inclusion in Bellwether Pool

Another four Tepezza hearing loss bellwether selections are scheduled to be submitted by defendants by April 1, and the court will randomly select another four, for a total of 12 cases that will go through case-specific discovery.

With a growing number of Tepezza hearing loss lawsuits continuing to be filed by former users of the thyroid eye disease drug, plaintiffs involved in the litigation have identified four representative cases for inclusion in a bellwether pool, which will go through discovery and be prepared for a series of early trials to help facilitate settlement negotiations with the manufacturer.

Tepezza (teprotumumab-trbw) is a new-generation biologic treatment introduced by Horizon Therapeutics in January 2020, as the first medication approved to treat thyroid eye disease or bulging eyes, which is caused by hyperthyroidism and linked to Graves’ disease, resulting in inflammation of eye muscles, eyelids, tear glands and fatty tissues behind the eye.

Although Tepezza infusions were originally intended as a niche treatment, with only a limited market, during the second year the drug was on the market in the United States sales doubled to $1.66 billion, and critics have expressed concern that Tepezza was aggressively marketed without adequately disclosing all of the potential risks.

Horizon Therapeutics, the manufacturer, now faces nearly 100 complaints from individuals that experienced various forms of hearing damage from Tepezza, including persistent ringing in the ears known as tinnitus, and complete hearing loss. In many cases, the hearing loss persists long after the thyroid eye disease treatments, leaving users with irreversible hearing damage.

Tepezza Lawsuits

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Given common questions of fact and law raised in complaints filed in federal courts nationwide, a Tepezza MDL (multidistrict litigation) was established in July 2023, centralizing the lawsuits before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin in the Northern District of Illinois for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

Tepezza Hearing Loss Lawsuit Bellwether Selections

As part of the coordinated management of the litigation, Judge Durkin has established a “bellwether” program, where a group of 12 representative cases will be selected to go through case-specific discovery in preparation for early trial dates, which will help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout various cases in the litigation.

In November, Judge Durkin told plaintiffs and defendants that they were each to select four cases to be a part of the initial Tepezza lawsuit bellwether discovery pool. The parties were then to confer on a list of eligible remaining Tepezza lawsuits, from which the Court will choose four at random.

Plaintiffs turned in their list of Tepezza hearing loss bellwether selections (PDF) on March 1, identifying four cases that they believe are most representative of claims that will be presented throughout the litigation.

Among the Plaintiffs’ selections is a complaint filed by Rebecka Meyers (PDF) in June 2023, which indicates that she suffered permanent hearing loss due to Tepezza infusions in 2020. They also chose a similar complaint filed by
Consuelo Egger (PDF)
, of California, who was diagnosed with permanent hearing loss and tinnitus following her Tepezza infusions in 2022.

The other two cases include a May 2023 complaint filed by Peter Chryssos (PDF) of New York, who suffered permanent hearing loss in 2022, and Geri Kanesta-Rychner (PDF), from Washington state, who was diagnosed with permanent hearing loss and tinnitus following injections that same year.

Defendants have until April 1 to submit their own list of case selections.

March 2024 Tepezza Lawsuit Update

The bellwether selections are intended to prepare a group of representative cases for early trials, which the parties can use to gaue how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence that will be presented throughout the litigation, including allegations that users may have avoided Tepezza hearing problems if the drug maker had disclosed information about the risk, and instructed doctors to obtain hearing tests before and during treatments.

In July 2023, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new version of the Tepezza prescribing information guide, which now adds many of the same hearing loss warnings plaintiffs indicate should have been included when the drug was first introduced.

The new Tepezza label update now discloses that users have been left with severe and permanent hearing loss. It also indicates doctors should assess patients’ hearing before, during, and after Tepezza infusions, to avoid users experiencing permanent ear damage.

While the outcome of Tepezza bellwether early trial dates will not be binding on other claims in the litigation, the average lawsuit payouts may influence eventual Tepezza settlement negotiations that will be necessary to avoid each individual case being set for trial in the coming years.

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