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According to attorneys representing individuals diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by side effects of recalled valsartan pills, it is expected that several thousand product liability lawsuits will be filed in the coming months and years, following widespread contamination that impacted most of the U.S. supply for the blood pressure drug in recent years.
While there are currently only a few dozen valsartan injury lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system, additional claims will be filed as individuals and families learn that a cancer diagnosis may be linked to impurities contained in certain generic valsartan pills, which were recalled in July 2018.
Each of the complaints raise similar allegations, indicating that a byproduct of the generic drug manufacturing process resulted in drugs being distributed by several different companies with cancer-causing impurities, including N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) and N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA), which may increase the risk of liver cancer, kidney cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer and other digestive tract cancers.
Given common questions of fact and law presented in lawsuits filed in various different U.S. District Courts nationwide, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) established coordinated pretrial proceedings lawsuit earlier this year, which resulted in the transfer of cases pending throughout the federal court system to U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in the District of New Jersey. The process is designed to reduce duplicative discovery, avoid conflicting pretrial schedules and serve the convenience of the parties, witnesses and the judicial system.
At a recent status conference, plaintiffs’ attorneys informed the court that they anticipate more than 2,000 cases eventually will be filed over the next two years, according to court records.
To facilitate the filing of new cases in the MDL, Judge Kugler has allowed the direct filing of valsartan injury claims, to avoid delays associated with transferring claims from different U.S. District Courts nationwide.
As part of the coordinated pretrial proceedings, it is expected that Judge Kugler will establish a “bellwether” process where a representative group claims will be prepared for early trial dates in the MDL, to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation, and promote potential valsartan settlements with the manufacturers and distributors of the contaminated pills.