Valsartan Lawsuits Mount, With Filing of Bladder Cancer Claim in Louisiana Federal Court

Published on January 15, 2019 by Laurie Villanueva

Lawsuits stemming from ongoing valsartan recalls continue to mount in courts throughout the United States.

One of the most recent valsartan lawsuits was filed by a Louisiana man who claims his use of recalled drugs were the direct cause of his bladder cancer.

Valsartan Lawsuit Allegations

According to a complaint filed on January 4th in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, Patrick Slavich began taking valsartan in 2016 to treat high blood pressure. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in January 2018. (Case No. 2:19-cv-00078)

Just 6 months after Slavich received his diagnosis, generic drug makers in the United States and Europe were forced to recall valsartan products, after tests confirmed that the drugs were contaminated with N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers NDMA a probable human carcinogen. In fact, animal tests involving rats and mice have tied the chemical to several cancers, including liver cancer colorectal cancer, stomach cancer and bladder cancer.

Slavich asserts that he purchased tablets included in the valsartan recall and took the drug on daily basis.

‘As a result of ingesting and consuming Adulterated Valsartan on a daily basis for over one year, Plaintiff was subjected and exposed to an increased risk of developing cancer and disease ultimately resulting in serious injuries, including but not limited to, the development of bladder cancer,” the complaint states.

Slavich’s valsaratan lawsuit names Zehjiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals, Prinston Pharmaceutical, and Solco Healthcare U.S., as defendants.

Heart Drug Recalls Include Generic Losartan, Irbesartan, Valsartan Combination Drugs

Valsartan is the generic version of Diovan, an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) used to treat heart failure and high blood pressure.

Last fall, a new round of testing detected N-Nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) in valsartan and other generic ARBs, including losartan and irbesartan. NDEA is also classified as a probable human carcinogen.

Both chemicals were likely a byproduct of a method used by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals and other overseas suppliers to manufacture the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) used in the recalled drugs. China-based Zhejiang Huahai switched to that method in 2014, so tainted ARBs may have circulated for the past four years.

In addition to single-ingredient valsartan tablets, the ARB recalls have been expanded to include:

  • Valsartan in combination with Amlodipine
  • Valsartan in combination with Hydrochlorothiazide (Valsartan HCT)
  • Valsartan in combination with Amlodipine and Hydrochlorothiazide
  • Losartan
  • Irbesartan

Valsartan Lawsuits Hearing Set for January 31st

More than a dozen valsartan lawsuits are currently pending in federal courts throughout the United States. On January 31st, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will hear Oral Arguments on a petition to centralize all federally-filed valsartan lawsuits in a single U.S. District Court.

If the Panel agrees to centralize the claims, all of these cases, as well as any filed in the future, will undergo coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings before a single judge. At some point, several representative valsartan lawsuits will be selected for bellwether trials.

Verdicts in bellwether trials are intended to provide insight into how other juries might decide similar claims. In some cases, they have also provided a path towards a global settlement of all or most cases pending in a multidistrict litigation. Any lawsuit not resolved through the multidistrict litigation process is ultimately remanded to its original court of filing for an individual trial.

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