July 25, 2013 — Today, plaintiffs’ lawyers are present oral arguments before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (MDL) in favor of consolidating Lipitor lawsuits into one Multi-District Litigation (MDL). The lawsuits involve post-menopausal women who took Lipitor and developed type-2 diabetes. At least 11 lawsuits are pending in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina, and lawyers are seeking the selection of this court for the MDL.
Lipitor lawyers have already presented motions (PDF) in favor of the establishment of an MDL. According to one motion, lawyers have received at least 2,300 inquiries from women who took Lipitor and developed type-2 diabetes. They estimate that at least 500 cases will qualify for a Lipitor lawsuit.
The JPML could centralize the lawsuits if they involve common legal questions. The MDL process is similar to a class action, but lawsuits remain individual. It is designed to improve efficiency and reduce costs by coordinating pre-trial discovery, settlements, and trials. It also reduces the risk of conflicting rulings on similar cases in different lower courts.
Evidence Linking Lipitor and Type-2 Diabetes
In June 2011, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study linking Lipitor and type-2 diabetes. They estimated that for every 498 people who took a cholesterol-lowering statin, such as Lipitor, there would be one extra case of diabetes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about the risk of Lipitor and type-2 diabetes in February 2012. They required Pfizer to change the label to include risk information about blood-sugar changes, hyperglycemia, and diabetes.
Unfortunately, these warnings may have been too late for thousands of post-menopausal women who took Lipitor and developed diabetes. In June 2012, researchers evaluated data on more than 150,000 women who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative. They found a 50% increased risk of diabetes — about 10% of post-menopausal women who took a statin developed diabetes, compared to 6.4% who did not.