According to a report from Reuters (8/8/14), the number of lawsuits filed against Pfizer in the past five months has gone from 56 to approximately 1,000, representing around 4,000 women. Those lawsuits all allege patients developed type 2 diabetes after using Lipitor and that Pfizer did not properly warn patients about that risk.
The recent increase in lawsuit filings is likely the result of the federal judicial panel consolidating the Lipitor diabetes lawsuits into one federal court. The nearly 1,000 lawsuits is a far cry from where litigation stood in 2013, when a motion for consolidation was denied because almost half the pending lawsuits were already in one district. When that motion was denied, there were five lawsuits and 24 potential tagalong actions in 13 districts.
Then, earlier this year with 56 lawsuits filed, a motion to consolidate the lawsuits for multidistrict litigation was approved.
“The present motion encompasses 56 constituent actions and over 170 tag-alongs,” the panel noted. “These actions are pending in more than 40 districts before more than 100 different judges.” The panel also noted that there are Lipitor diabetes lawsuits pending in at least three state courts.
The panel rejected Pfizer’s argument that consolidating the lawsuits would lead to a large number of non-viable Lipitor cases being filed to force a settlement.
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The first of the Lipitor bellwether trials is scheduled to go to court in July 2015. The outcome of that case could persuade Pfizer to settle with plaintiffs or it could result in cases being dropped.
In 2012, the warning label for Lipitor was updated to include an increased risk of diabetes. At the time the FDA announced the updated warning, the agency said that it still felt the benefits of Lipitor outweighed the risks.
The multidistrict litigation is In Re: Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) Marketing, Salespractices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2502.