A federal judge in Pennsylvania has refused to remand more than 100 Invokana lawsuits back to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. In a ruling issued last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Mitchell Goldberg of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found that Janssen Pharmaceuticals had properly invoked the Class Action Fairness Act’s (CAFA) mass action provision when it removed the cases to federal court.
All of the Pennsylvania lawsuits were filed on behalf of patients who allegedly developed diabetic ketoacidosis due to treatment with Invokana. On September 23, 2016, plaintiffs moved to have the claims consolidated in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. However, the initial petition was withdrawn on October 11th, and a new one submitted the same day.
Janssen removed the Invokana lawsuits to federal court on November 9th, citing the CAFA. Plaintiffs subsequently challenged the removal on the grounds that it was untimely, asserting that the 30-day period in which to do so had started running on September 23rd. However, Judge Goldberg disagreed, writing that the clock did not start ticking until October 31st, after the second petition had been filed and the parties had a chance to respond.
Invokana belongs to a class of Type 2 diabetes medications called SGLT2 inhibitors. In December 2015, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) required that the prescribing information for all drugs in this class be modified with information about diabetic ketoacidosis. This dangerous condition occurs when toxic acids called ketones accumulate in the blood stream. Without medical attention, diabetic ketoacidosis can result in diabetic coma and death.
Last June, the FDA ordered the manufacturers of several SGLT2 inhibitors, including Invokana, to strengthen label warnings regarding kidney complications, after the drugs were cited in more than 100 reports of acute renal injury.
These safety concerns have prompted hundreds of people to file Invokana lawsuits in courts throughout the country. Last year, all such federal claims were centralized in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, to undergo coordinated pretrial proceedings. At least 119 cases were pending in the proceeding as of February 15th.
Janssen had been seeking to have the Pennsylvania Invokana lawsuits stayed and transferred to the centralized litigation underway in New Jersey. While Judge Goldberg’s ruling did not address that matter, he did indicate that he would maintain jurisdiction for now.