The United States District Court for the District of Minnesota issued a conference to oversee the current status of the Fluoroquinolones Antibiotics MDL (Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro). Centralized by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JMPL) in August 2015, the MDL No. 2642 so far collected more than 1,000 lawsuits filed by people who suffered serious injuries after taking one of the above-mentioned medications. On August 10, 2017, Honourable Judge John R. Tunheim convened a hearing to review all the reports and updates from both parties.

Many patients who took Levaquin and the other fluoroquinolones, suffered from grievous injuries shortly after being prescribed with these antibiotic medications. Back in 2010, Johnson & Johnson was accused of distributing to the market a dangerous medication without warning the public about its serious side effects. A first MDL was consolidated, and in 2012 the company eventually settled 845 total cases of tendon damage, paying up to $1,8 million in compensation.

Later on, though, an association between these medications and other severe adverse reactions was found. Plaintiffs who took Avelox, Cipro and Levaquin risked their lives after they faced a life-threatening aortic dissection, or had to endure permanent nerve damage caused by chronic peripheral neuropathies. Lawyers are currently accusing the drugmakers of negligence in testing a product that was later found to be much more dangerous than advertised. A total of 10 bellwether trials are being prepared as the pretrial proceedings of the new are currently moving forward.

According to Minutes issued, Counsel reported that only 265 pending cases involve Cipro and Avelox, while the rest has been filed against Levaquin. The defendants are currently Johnson & Johnson, Bayer and Merck. A total of 7 employees of the last two companies already provided their depositions, but the plaintiffs’ attorneys requested 12 additional depositions from Bayer sales representatives and district managers. Most of them have been scheduled for September, shortly before the hearings of the German entity’s representatives (Bayer Pharma AG).

The parties have resolved most of their disagreements regarding PFS deficiencies, and are now scheduling depositions for physicians called as witnesses. The Court set a limit of four treating-doctors and one prescribing-doctor per bellwether case. The discovery phase is still being updated since the Defendants provided plaintiffs with a substantial volume of documents to be analyzed.

Both parties reached an agreement that led plaintiffs to withdraw their motion to amend the protective order in exchange for additional information regarding the Defendants’ privilege logs. A Common Benefit Account was finally established without opposition from either side. The upcoming Status Conference was scheduled for September 12, 2017.

Article by Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.