Peripheral neuropathy lawsuits involving Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox are moving forward in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota. Per a recent update, the Court convened its most recent Status Conference on February 21st, at which time matters pertaining to bellwether trials were among the issues addressed.
The update indicates that there were 738 fluoroquinolone lawsuits pending in the litigation as of the date of the conference, the majority of which focus on Janssen Pharmaceutical’s Levaquin. Both sides have selected cases for bellwether trials involving Avelox and Cipro. A total of 10 cases will be prepped for trial, including eight involving Avelox and two involving Cipro.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs are meeting and conferring with defense counsel regarding a bellwether trial proposal for 14 fluoroquinolone lawsuits currently pending in Pennsylvania’s Court of Common Pleas. Counsel will likely ask the federal court to communicate with the state court as to scheduling.
The proceeding’s next Status Conference will be convened on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at 2:00 p.m.
Levaquin, Avelox and Cipro all belong to a class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. These drugs rank among the most frequently used antibiotics in the U.S., and are prescribed to millions of patients every year to treat pneumonia, STDs and other bacterial infections. However, the drugs have faced scrutiny in recent years amid concerns that their risks may outweigh their benefits.
Last May, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned that fluoroquinolone antibiotics shouldn’t be prescribed for patients with acute sinusitis, acute bronchitis, and uncomplicated urinary tract infections when other treatment options are available. According to the agency, fluoroquinolones intended for systemic use are associated with disabling complications affecting the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system. These side effects can occur simultaneously and may prove permanent in some patients. The black box warning included on the labeling for all systemic fluoroquinolones (those administered orally or via injection) has since been updated to reflect this information.
Three years earlier, the FDA ordered the drug’s manufacturers to strengthen peripheral neuropathy warnings included on their product labels, after a review indicated the previous wording didn’t adequately describe the possible rapid onset of the condition or the potential for permanence. Statements suggesting that peripheral neuropathy was a rare side effect was also removed from the labeling.
Plaintiffs pursuing lawsuits against the manufacturers of Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox claim that the association between fluoroquinolones and peripheral neuropathy was recognized as early as the 1990s. They further assert that the current peripheral neuropathy warnings remain “inadequate and confusing.”