January 30, 2015 — The federal judge overseeing over 150 lawsuits involving liver damage caused by Tylenol has scheduled the first-ever “bellwether” trial for June 22, 2015.
Law360 reports that Judge Lawrence Stengel selected a lawsuit involving a woman who died after taking Tylenol Extra Strength.
The lawsuit was filed by Rana Terry on behalf of her sister, Denice Hayes, who took Tylenol Extra Strength according to the label’s instructions back in August 2010. One month later, she went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with catastrophic liver failure. She died one week later.
Johnson & Johnson is accused of failing to adequately warn about the liver damage risks associated with Tylenol. Terry claims the drug-maker has known about the problem for years, but only recently took steps to strengthen warnings and lower recommended dosages.
As of January 15, there were 163 lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson and McNeil-PPC, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The lawsuits have been centralized in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2436) since April 2013.
The active ingredient in Tylenol, acetaminophen, is one of the most widely-used painkillers in the United States. It was marketed for decades for “safe, fast pain relief,” the pain-reliever “hospitals use most,” and “recommended by pediatricians.”
Unfortunately, Tylenol is actually the leading cause of liver failure in the United States. Just one large overdose can cause liver failure. Small overdoses “staggered” over time can also cause liver failure, and the patient outcome is usually much worse.
In January 2011, the FDA warned that overdoses of acetaminophen “can be toxic and lead to acute liver failure.” They asked drug-makers to limit the amount of acetaminophen in these products to 325-mg per tablet.