February 20, 2014 — After denying a motion to centralize Lipitor lawsuits last year, a panel of federal judges has reversed its decision and will create a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in South Carolina.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) issued its order on February 18, transferring all Lipitor lawsuits involving type-2 diabetes in the federal court system to Judge Richard M. Gergel in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina.
The MDL was created primarily because the number of actions has “grown considerably,” making it “highly difficult, if not impossible, to coordinate this litigation effectively on an informal basis.” The action centralizes 56 Lipitor lawsuits involving diabetes. There are an additional 170 tag-along federal actions pending in more than 40 districts before more than 100 different judges.
The lawsuits all make highly similar claims, namely:
“Plaintiffs allege that they have developed type-2 diabetes as a result of taking Pfizer’s cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor. They contend that Pfizer failed to warn physicians and consumers adequately of the risk of developing type-2 diabetes from taking Lipitor, knew or should have know that the risks of Lipitor included developing diabetes, and negligently, recklessly, and/or carelessly marketed Lipitor without adequate instructions or warnings.”
In February 2012, Pfizer updated the label on Lipitor to warn about “increases in HbA1c and fasting serum glucose levels.” In a Safety Announcement announcing the label changes, the FDA stated that Lipitor may increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. Many people who were diagnosed with diabetes after taking Lipitor allege that Pfizer intentionally concealed this risk information, thereby protecting profits at the expense of public safety.