January 29, 2015 — The first federal trial involving Lipitor and type-2 diabetes has been set for October 2015.

As of January 15, Pfizer was facing over 1,600 lawsuits alleging that Lipitor (atorvastatin), a cholesterol-lowering medication, increases a patient’s risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Over 100 lawsuits were filed since December.

Pfizer is accused of failing to adequately warn patients about the risk of increased blood-sugar (glucose) levels, while simultaneously promoting Lipitor as a safe and effective way to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In 2012, the FDA ordered Pfizer to update the label on Lipitor to reflect this risk information. The warning was issued after a study published in JAMA found that post-menopausal women on statins were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to women who did not take the medications.

The lawsuits have been centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL No 2502) in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina since February 2014.

In the MDL process, the so-called “bellwether” trial is a litigation tool that is used to test a jury’s response to evidence. In many cases, bellwether trials are a better way to resolve mass litigation than hearing every single case or settling the litigation in the pre-trial stages.

The outcome of a bellwether trial often pushes lawyers to resolve remaining cases in the MDL. Generally, if a jury decides to award compensation, it encourages defendants to negotiate a settlement rather than risk massive losses in multiple trials.

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