After being denied in August 2012 by the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, the growing number of plaintiffs filing lawsuits against Lipitor manufacturer, Pfizer, will again seek consolidation of suits in January 2014. The panel based their prior denial on the low number of cases that had been filed as of August 2012. As more and more lawsuits mount against Pfizer however, the Lipitor litigation seems like a clear candidate for centralization.
When cases are consolidated in a multi-district litigation, the plaintiffs all maintain individual suits against the defendant. This is unlike a class action lawsuit, where all plaintiffs with similar claims are joined together. By maintaining each case’s individuality but centralizing cases with similar claims, the assigned judge can more efficiently rule on issues related to each case because they have more familiarity with the general facts of the cases. Consolidation also allows for greater efficiency because rulings which affect all the cases in a common way can be decided by a judge just once and applied uniformly to all the consolidated claims.
Many of the lawsuits are alleging that Pfizer failed to completely and adequately modify the product’s warning labels despite being asked to modify the label by the FDA. As such, the medical community, patients and the public at-large have been improperly warned about the risks associated with use of the product. Such risks include the increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes, especially in post-menopausal women. A University of Massachusetts study found that women taking the drug were 50% more likely to develop diabetes than women not taking Lipitor. Other risks include skeletal muscle side effects, liver damage, kidney damage, and memory loss or confusion.
Bahe, Cook, Cantley & Nefzger is currently reviewing and accepting these cases.