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Will Levaquin Lawsuit Win for Plaintiff Signal a Trend?

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Minneapolis, MNGiven that Levaquin reaps billions of dollars in profit for Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, there should be no problem funding settlements stemming from Levaquin lawsuits—the first of which recently wrapped up with a $1 million-plus settlement for the plaintiff.

The jury in the first of hundreds of trials consolidated in US District Court Minneapolis before Judge John Tenheim, returned its verdict earlier this month, according to the December 7 issue of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Total Levaquin claims overall in federal and state courts number in the thousands. It is not known if the defendants will appeal. However, the victory does bode well for other victims of Levaquin tendon ruptures.

The impact on the life of the plaintiff is compelling. John Schedin is now 82, but he was a spry 76 when he went to his doctor complaining of a severe chest cold. His doctor prescribed Levaquin plus a steroid in an effort to knock the infection down.

However, the plaintiff suffered a rupture to both of his Achilles tendons after only three days on the drug. In court testimony, the doctor who prescribed the Levaquin medication to Schedin noted that while he was aware of the risk for tendon problems, he was not aware that Levaquin taken in concert with a steroid could dramatically increase the risk for tendon rupture in seniors.

As a result of his Levaquin tendon ruptures, Schedin has been reduced to crawling up the stairs on his hands and knees for the journey to his bed at night. He testified at trial that he can no longer vacation with his family and that his quality of life has been negatively impacted.

Defense witnesses testified that Schedin's injury might have been complicated by high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and the steroid he had been prescribed.

However, lawyers for the plaintiff noted that even though Levaquin torn tendons and the concern for steroid toxicity in older patients was included in product labeling since 2002, warnings were buried deep within a 14-page package insert. Even a black box warning added in 2008, claimed attorneys for the plaintiff, was similarly hidden.

Schedin's prescribing doctor testified that he did not recall any sales rep from Johnson & Johnson and/or Ortho-McNeil-Janssen making reference to tendon risk with Levaquin during sales calls.

The manufacturer stands behind its product, and said through a lawyer that no information has ever been withheld or concealed. Schedin was awarded $1.1 million in punitive damages and $700,000 in compensatory damages. Levaquin has consistently earned annual sales approaching the billion-dollar level since its US introduction in 1997, and was the most-prescribed antibiotic in the world by 2006.

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READER COMMENTS

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Have David Lee Boswell contact Ralph A. Applegate by his e-mail

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In the late nineties and early milenium my doctor, then my primary care physcian prescribed me Levaquin for acute sinusitis. Also, the VA outpatient clinic in Columbus, Ohio prescibed lefloxin or levaquin during the same period. My doctor ordered several MRI's in 2001, in which the right shoulder revealed three 3cm tears in my rotator cuff and tendonitis. In 2003, I was awarded Social Security Disabilty Benefits several medical conditions. On August 28, 2008 my right shoulder began to flare up and I underwent major surgery. Currently, my Attorney is representing me for a possible Levaquin Settlement. I wish the best of luck to any clients, who may suffered as I did.

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