June 2, 2014 — A statistics report (PDF) issued by the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on May 15 announced that over 700 lawsuits involving Lipitor (atorvastatin) and diabetes are now pending against Pfizer in federal court.
The litigation has grown rapidly since its inception in February, when just 56 lawsuits were transferred into MDL No. 2502 in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina.
This is a major turn-around from last year, when the JPML declined to establish an MDL because just a few dozen lawsuits were pending. Now, hundreds of lawsuits are being filed every month. On April 15, there were 464 cases pending. By May 15, at least 703 were filed, and the number continues to grow by the week.
The first trials are scheduled to begin after July 1, 2015. These so-called “bellwether” trials are representative cases that are a useful way for lawyers to determine how a jury will respond to evidence. If compensation is awarded, this information can be extrapolated to other lawsuits, which helps expedite settlement negotiations or another resolution.
Pfizer is accused of downplaying risk information linking Lipitor and type-2 diabetes. Lipitor was introduced in 1996, but it was not until February 2012 that warning about diabetes were required on the label by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A study published by the British Medical Journal in May 2013 linked Lipitor to a 22% increased risk of new-onset diabetes.