Lipitor Multidistrict Litigation Updates
The prescription drug Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) has been prescribed in thousands of patients across the United States for treatment of elevated LDL-cholesterol. Despite its position as the number one selling drug of all time, Lipitor is not without drawbacks – including the increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes while using the drug to treat cardiovascular issues.
Accordingly, several Lipitor patients have convened together to pursue individual causes of action against the drug maker Pfizer as part of a consolidated case plan known as multidistrict litigation (MDL).
Unlike a class action – which is one large lawsuit including multiple plaintiffs – cases organized under MDL maintain a distinct case number and pathway to resolution, however procedural matters are handled together by a single judge in order to promote efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Lipitor diabetes lawsuit filings
There are approximately one dozen state-level Lipitor lawsuits ongoing, and one federal Lipitor MDL under review by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina – Charleston division. On September 19, 2014, parties to the Lipitor MDL were scheduled to attend a status conference to review the various stages of the case and make certain plaintiffs and Pfizer are on track and adhering to deadlines. As is protocol, the parties compiled a case summary for review by the judge prior to the meeting.
The report begins by reviewing the status of discovery between the parties – which is a process in which litigants engage in the mutual exchange of material and relevant non-privileged evidence. According to the report, Pfizer has cooperated in providing clinical trial materials and information, adverse event reports relating to Lipitor, and several other documents across several million pages.
In addition, plaintiffs report submitting supplemental fact sheets and mandatory disclosures for Pfizer’s review. The parties have also met to discuss the scheduling of depositions of employees, proposing dates in October or November, 2014.
Allegations against plaintiffs
Contained within the status report are several allegations against the plaintiffs with regard to deposition protocol. More specifically, Pfizer has alleged that plaintiffs have not exercised due diligence in routinely meeting with their clients and preparing for depositions ahead of time. In fact, Pfizer alleges that plaintiffs are preparing for depositions at or immediately preceding the deposition, and requests the court to address the matter.
From there, Pfizer’s counsel attached an Exhibit showing communication between the parties regarding other potential discovery issues. In the letter, Pfizer’s counsel asserts several source files are missing, missing adverse event report records, and missing causality assessments.
Next steps in Lipitor coordinated litigation
The MDL is comprised of over 1,000 Lipitor diabetes lawsuits filed by patients seeking compensation for the onset of Type 2 diabetes – a costly and potentially deadly disease. Specifically, plaintiffs claim that Pfizer did not issue adequate warnings of the potential for this side effect, and therefore violated laws regarding product liability and consumer protection.
Plaintiffs also allege negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation of facts, and breach of warranties.
The status conference was held on September 19, 2014. The Court scheduled the next status conference for November 13, 2014.
- South Carolina District Court, MDL Lipitor, http://www.scd.uscourts.gov/mdlipitor/current.asp
- South Carolina District Court, MDL Lipitor, Orders, CMO 18, http://www.scd.uscourts.gov/mdlipitor/orders/CMO%2018.pdf
- FDA, Consumer updates, FDA expands advise on Statin risks, http://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm293330.htm
- Forbes.com, Who stands to gain with FDA approval of OTC Lipitor? http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnlamattina/2014/03/04/who-stands-to-gain-with-fda-approval-of-otc-lipitor/