June 20, 2013 — Federal judges have established a Multi-District Litigation (Tylenol MDL #2436) to centralize Tylenol lawsuits into the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania before Judge Lawrence F. Stengel. All of the lawsuits allege that McNeill knew for decades that Tylenol can cause liver toxicity, but failed to provide adequate warnings about the risk.
Johnson & Johnson, McNeill, and other pharmaceutical companies that sell products containing acetaminophen opposed the establishment of an MDL.. McNeill stated: “We are disappointed with today’s decision, because we do not believe the cases meet the criteria for multidistrict litigation.” As a consolation, the MDL was established in Pennsylvania, where McNeill is headquartered.
When the MDL was established in April, 27 Tylenol lawsuits were transferred from district courts around the nation. By May, more than 100 lawsuits were transferred into the litigation. The number of lawsuits is expected to increase dramatically in the coming months.
Judge Stengel also appointed eight lawyers to serve in leadership positions. Lawyers are now in the process of conducting pre-trial discovery. As the litigation proceeds, they may select certain cases for “bellwether trials” or negotiate settlement agreements.
In January 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a Safety Communication to warn that Tylenol overdoses are a leading cause of liver failure in the United States. Every year, approximately 50,000 people visit an emergency room, 25,000 are hospitalized, up to 2,000 suffer liver failure, and more than 450 deaths are caused by Tylenol. In an attempt to curb the public health problem, Johnson & Johnson reduced the maximum recommended daily dose of Tylenol from 4,000-mg to 3,000-mg per 24 hours.