July 25, 2013 — Today, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (JPML) will hear oral arguments form lawyers seeking to consolidate Lipitor lawsuits into a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). Plaintiffs are seeking the selection of the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, where 11 lawsuits are pending.
According to plaintiffs’ motion (PDF) in favor of the establishment of an MDL, at least one law firm has received more than 2,300 inquiries from women interested in filing claims against Pfizer. Most of the claims involve women who developed type-2 diabetes while taking Lipitor. Lawyers estimate that at least 500 of these inquiries are viable lawsuits against Pfizer.
Judges may establish an MDL if they determine that the existing Lipitor lawsuits are similar enough to be consolidated. Like a class action, this helps improve the efficiency of pre-trial proceedings, discovery, settlement negotiations, or “bellwether” trials. It also reduces the risk of conflicting rulings in various lower courts.
Evidence Linking Lipitor and Type-2 Diabetes
In February 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned about the potential risk of type-2 diabetes from Lipitor. They required labeling changes, including the risk of elevated blood-sugar levels (hyperglycemia), which may increase the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Unfortunately, these warnings may have been too little, too late for many people who took Lipitor and developed type-2 diabetes.
According to a study of data from the Women’s Health Initiative published in January 2012, post-menopausal women who take statin medications such as Lipitor have a 50% increased risk of type-2 diabetes. The study involved more than 150,000 women. Of those who took a cholesterol-lowering statin, such as Lipitor, 10% developed type-2 diabetes, compared to 6.4% of women who did not take a statin.
In June 2011, the Journal of the American Medical Association found that there was 1 additional case of diabetes for every 498 people who took a statin for at least one year.
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