So far in 2019, there has been specific litigation developments affecting pharmaceutical companies. There have been various legal issues that the companies have faced from pharmaceutical lawsuits to regulatory enforcement. These have been brought by governments and consumers who claim that the companies have engaged in wrongdoing on various different levels. Here are seven different developments to follow:
Talc Powder Lawsuit
Johnson & Johnson has faced thousands of lawsuits alleging that their flagship talc powder product has caused ovarian cancer in longtime users. The lawsuits have alleged that the product contains asbestos. In 2018, the company was hit with a $4.7 billion verdict in Missouri in the case of 23 women who sued the company after contracting cancer. Now, the company must defend against thousands of lawsuits that are beginning to come to trial. Currently, a federal judge is in the process of deciding whether the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses can have their testimony admitted. This may dictate whether the 11,000 plus lawsuits pending will have a chance of success on when they go in front of a jury. The company recently failed in its efforts to have these cases moved to one court. The prospect for large legal liability has acted to suppress Johnson & Johnson’s share price.
State and local governments has filed suit against the manufacturers of these drugs in large numbers, claiming that the drugmakers have flooded the market with these substances. As a result, the governments have had to bear the costs of the opioid crisis and treating those who have become addicted to the drugs. Pharmaceutical makers have settled several high dollar cases with the governments for large amounts. This may eventually cause the drugmakers to go bankrupt. In the near future, there will also be largescale litigation against these companies filed by private plaintiffs. There are predictions that the opioid litigation will mirror the mass torts filed against Big Tobacco in the 1990s and 2000s.
Merck has been sued regarding alleged injuries resulting from its Zostavax shingles vaccine. As a result of reports of injury, the vaccine has now lost most of its market share. From a litigation perspective, the Supreme Court has been called on to decide issues in the case. The plaintiffs have alleged that the vaccine, which relies upon an attenuated form of the virus caused patients to develop more serious cases of shingles than they could have even developed unvaccinated. The cases are currently proceeding through the discovery phase of the litigation with bellwether cases set to go to trial in 2020. A judge recently dismissed some of the cases because the plaintiffs did not properly draft their complaint. There has been no decisions on the merits of the cases.
Governmental authorities have also filed litigation against generic drug companies for price fixing of their products. 44 states have filed a lawsuits against large pharmaceutical companies for price gouging. The states have taken matters into their own hands as the federal government has failed to take effective action against the companies for allegedly colluding to raise the price of their products. Many drugs have risen in price by as much as 10,000 percent. It is unclear the effect that this will have on the consumer and whether they will be able to recover any money. State lawsuits against drug companies are a relatively new development. How these suits unfold and whether there are civil suits in their wake will be an issue that may permanently change the pharmaceutical industry.
Transvaginal mesh lawsuits have become one of the largest mass tort cases ever. Recently, the FDA ordered the last of the companies still selling this surgical mesh to withdraw their products from the marketplace. The product manufacturers have settled most of the cases brought against them, and the total amount of case settlements has now exceeded $8 billion. There have been over 100,000 lawsuits settled so far in these cases. There are still over 5,000 cases remaining against the product manufacturers. While the size of the settlements is not as large as those entered into in other large torts, plaintiffs have still had success in achieving some sort of financial recovery.
The drug, which is an anti-psychotic medication, is alleged to cause a condition that causes boys to grow breast tissue. Johnson & Johnson is facing thousands of lawsuits. Most of these cases are in state court in Philadelphia. The company has had a mixed record in defending against these cases. The judge in several of the cases has paved the way for plaintiffs to seek punitive damages against the company since it allegedly ignored its own research and encouraged doctors to prescribe the medication. Two of the cases were settled by Johnson & Johnson before the punitive damage portion of the proceedings.
Xlejanz has been used to treat people with arthritis. However, there are claims that the drug can cause severe blood clotting. Specifically patients can experience pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis, both dangerous types of clots. There has been a recent increase in the litigation filed against the company. There have been 15 reports of deaths associated with the product, which netted $1.7 billion for Pfizer in 2018. In February 2019, the FDA issued a Safety Communication stating the concerns with the drug. With the increased attention, more plaintiffs have come forward to litigate their claims.
The Law Offices of Sadaka Associates handles claims associated with these drugs and products. If you or a loved one has been injured by their use, please contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.