The JPML will consider oral arguments on the motion during an upcoming hearing session scheduled for November 30, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri and may rule before the end of the year. Particularly because most Onglyza lawsuits are still in the early stages of litigation, consolidation could be a very good thing for plaintiffs.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Onglyza for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes in 2009. Subsequent FDA reviews, however, suggested the need for additional investigation of a possible link between the medication and an increased incidence of heart failure. Thereafter the drug manufacturers, AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, were required to amend the warning label to include information about the potential for cardiac problems.
The Transfer Motion argues that Onglyza lawsuits share many questions of fact and law, including whether Onglyza was marketed with an inadequate label; whether the defendant drug manufacturers conducted inadequate testing of Onglyza; and whether they failed to warn about the increased risk of heart failure, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrest and death.
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The jurisdiction seems appropriate. Two of the cases seeking consolidation were filed in the Northern District of California and one of the defendants is based in San Francisco. It could also be advantageous. California courts have the reputation of being relatively plaintiff-friendly in pharmaceutical product liability cases. The bellwether trials that occur as part of the process can also help plaintiffs and their attorneys assess the strength of cases and potential range of reasonable settlement offers. If the JPML approves MDL status, the consolidated plaintiffs can at least have confidence that the process is moving along.