June 27, 2016 — Approximately 3,000 lawsuits have been filed by people who say Pfizer failed to warn about the risk of type-2 diabetes from the blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Lipitor.
The lawsuits have been centralized in the U.S. District Court for South Carolina, (MDL No. 2502).
On June 24, Pfizer filed a motion (PDF) asking the federal judge overseeing the MDL to dismiss all lawsuits involving people who took doses of Lipitor lower than 80-mg. Pfizer say the plaintiffs do not have admissible expert testimony to prove that Lipitor causes diabetes.
In May, Pfizer successfully avoided a whistleblower lawsuit that was filed in 2004 by Jesse Polansky, a former medical director. He said Pfizer illegally marketed Lipitor for “off-label” purposes and defrauded the government by causing Medicare and Medicaid to overpay for unnecessary drugs.
In a unanimous decision, the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals rejected the whistleblower lawsuit because prescribing recommendations on the label do not amount to legal restrictions:
“We cannot accept plaintiff’s theory that what scientists at the National Cholesterol Education Program clearly intended to be advisory guidance is transformed into a legal restriction simply because the FDA has determined to pass along that advice through the label.”