January 22, 2013 — Plaintiffs in a growing litigation involving Tylenol (acetaminophen) and liver damage have requested the formation of a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Most Tylenol liver damage lawsuits are already filed there, and drug-maker Johnson & Johnson is headquartered in the state. Centralizing the litigation would also conserve judicial resources, promote efficient management of the litigation, and avoid inconsistent pre-trial rulings.
There are currently 28 Tylenol lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson in several federal district courts. All of the lawsuits allege that the drug company marketed and sold Tylenol products without adequately warning about the risk of liver toxicity and liver failure. Most of the litigation is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, with 21 lawsuits. In total, the litigation involves 8 federal district courts.
Plaintiffs argue that centralization of the litigation is appropriate because the lawsuits concern similar injuries, facts, and legal questions. All of the plaintiffs allege that they suffered liver toxicity or liver failure after they ingested non-prescription (OTC) Tylenol. They allege that the manufacturer aggressively marketed Tylenol for 33 years as the “most trusted” pain-reliever that doctors “recommend the most.” The drug company is accused of failing to adequately warn about the risk of liver toxicity.
Last week, five Tylenol liver damage lawsuits were filed against Johnson & Johnson. Two lawsuits were filed by plaintiffs who died of liver toxicity in California and Texas. Three other lawsuits were filed in West Virginia, Texas, and Delaware, by plaintiffs who were hospitalized with liver failure after using either Extra Strength Tylenol or Tylenol PM.
In recent years, health experts have raised concerns about the risk of Tylenol liver failure. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that Tylenol overdoses are a leading cause of liver failure, resulting in 1,000-2,000 cases of liver failure and 450 deaths every year. The agency has limited the amount of Tylenol in prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet. They have also issued several safety communications in an attempt to raise public awareness about the risk.