The federal court overseeing pretrial proceedings for hundreds of peripheral neuropathy lawsuits involving Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox convened its most recent Status Conference on May 31st. An update since provided by the Court indicates that discovery is moving forward in the U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota, in preparation for the proceeding’s first bellwether trials.
Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox belong to a class of medications called fluoroquinolone antibiotics, which are indicated to treat pneumonia and other serious bacterial infections. However, these drugs are also frequently prescribed for more routine illnesses, including ear infections and urinary tract infections.
In December 2004, fluoroquinolone labels were updated to note peripheral neuropathy as a potential side effect. However, after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) determined that the labeling did not adequately describe the “potential rapid onset and permanence” of the often-debilitating nerve condition, further modifications were made in August 2013. Among other things, statements that suggested peripheral neuropathy was a “rare” occurrence were deleted from the drugs’ labeling.
Last May, the FDA cautioned that patients suffering from certain uncomplicated infections should not be prescribed systemic fluoroquinolone antibiotics (those administered orally or via injection) when other treatment options are available. The warning followed an agency review which linked antibiotics like Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox to permanent and potentially disabling complications affecting the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system. The black box warning included on their labels was updated to note this new information.
The Court’s latest updated indicates that fluoroquinolone plaintiffs have begun taking depositions of defense witnesses, while defendants have begun deposing bellwether plaintiffs. The parties continue to schedule additional depositions within these categories, after which they will move on to physician depositions.
Bayer has also completed the first round of custodial document productions.
The parties have also agreed to amend the Pretrial Order on Bellwether Discovery and Trials to extend the discovery cutoff date until the end of October. Trial dates remain the same, with Avelox-only trials scheduled to begin on August 6, 2018, October 8, 2018, February 4, 2019, and June 10, 2019. Cipro-only trials will be convened on December 3, 2018 and August 8, 2019. Verdicts in these cases could provide insight into jury decisions in similar peripheral neuropathy lawsuits involving Cipro and Avelox.
Finally, the Court noted that its next Status Conference will be convened on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, at 3:00 p.m., CST. A Status Conference has also been scheduled for August 1, 2017, at 2:00 p.m., CST.