Since 1985, more than 17 million people have been prescribed the statin drug, Lipitor, at one time or another, making it the world’s best-selling drug. Lipitor has been prescribed for people diagnosed with high cholesterol and has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes. Medical research has shown that people who have taken Lipitor and other statin drugs, are at an increased risk to become diabetic compared to those who have not taken the drug. The studies vary but some report the increase to be as high as 28 percent.
There are approximately 500 product liability lawsuits filed against Pfizer. On April 25, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel issued an aggressive Case Management Order to establish a plan and procedures for discovery, organizational structure, as well as timelines, for handling the litigation. Judge Gergel is overseeing the cases, which have been centralized as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL), which helps prevent duplicative discovery and conflicts from different judges. MDLs also help to serve the convenience of the witnesses, parties and the courts.
In February 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required manufacturers of statins to update labels regarding the drugs’ potential association with Type 2 diabetes, informing users that there may be an increased risk of changes to blood glucose levels. This risk affects women more than men.
Court records indicate that there are about 460 Lipitor lawsuits pending in the District of South Carolina. These claims allege that Pfizer Inc. had knowledge of the link between Lipitor and diabetes before modifying its label in February 2012 to warn of this risk, but concealed this information to continue increasing sales. The lawsuits further allege that the modified label warnings remain inadequate.
The request from the FDA came one month after a study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine, suggesting that post-menopausal women treated with statins faced an increased risk of developing new-onset Type 2 diabetes.
Hundreds of plaintiffs allege that Pfizer knew or reasonably should have known about the diabetes risk, and that they were well aware of the potential risk long before the warnings were issued. There are some studies that linked statins to diabetes as far back as 2004.
Judge Gergel has indicated that the first case will go to trial on or after July 1, 2015. New plaintiffs will be allowed to file Lipitor lawsuits directly in the MDL in order to increase the efficiency and coordination of the cases. A small group of lawsuits are expected to be prepared for earlier trial dates, known as bellwether cases. The purpose of bellwether cases is to help gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their cases, and often lead to settlement discussions.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes following Lipitor use, or any other adverse reactions to statin drugs, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).