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Onglyza Lawsuits Seek MDL Status in California

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San Francisco, CAOn October 11, 2017, a group of Onglyza plaintiffs filed a Motion to Transfer with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML). The motion seeks to consolidate the Onglyza lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. At the time of filing, there were 44 lawsuits pending in 24 federal jurisdictions, all of which put forth virtually identical legal and factual theories. Plaintiffs foresee the possibility that hundreds of Onglyza and Kombiglyze (collectively referred to as “Onglyza” in the motion) lawsuits will be filed in the future.

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.

MDL status can be an advantage for plaintiffs who are litigating very similar cases in different jurisdictions. It may streamline discovery and ensure greater consistency in pretrial rulings thus saving time and cost. A transferee court may also be more favorably inclined to a plaintiff’s argument than the home district.

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.


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Type 2 diabetes can sometimes initially be managed through lifestyle modification including a healthy diet, regular exercise and monitoring your blood glucose levels. The aim of diabetes management is to keep blood glucose levels as close to the target range.


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