Federal Multidistrict Litigation Preps for First Valsartan Lawsuit Conference

Published on March 11, 2019 by Sandy Liebhard

Product liability claims stemming from recent valsartan recalls are moving forward, following establishment of a multidistrict litigation in the U.S District Court, District of New Jersey, last month.

On February 26th, the Court stayed proceedings in all pending valsartan lawsuits. The stay will remain in effect until the litigation convenes its Initial Case Management Conference on March 27th.  A (Case No. 1:19-MD-02875-RBK-JS)

Cancer-Causing Chemicals Detected in Valsartan, Other Generic Blood Pressure Drugs

Valsartan is the generic version of Diovan. It belongs to a drug class caused angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB), which treat heart failure and high blood pressure.

Generic drug makers in the United States and 22 other countries began conducting valsartan recalls last summer, after cancer causing-chemicals were detected in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient sourced from two overseas suppliers.

Eventually, the recalls expanded to several other ARBs, and now include:

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

Valsartan Lawsuits for Personal Injuries, Economic Damages

Nearly 40 valsartan lawsuits are now pending in the District of New Jersey,  including 17 personal injury claims alleging ingestion of tainted drugs caused cancer. The remaining are consumer class actions that seek compensation for economic damages related to valsartan purchases.

Considering the scope of the valsartan recall, many expect that the multidistrict litigation will grow to include hundreds, or even thousands, of similar claims.

What is a Multidistrict Litigation?

Multidistrict litigations help improve judicial efficiency when a large number of filings put forth similar allegations regarding the same or related products. All of the valsartan lawsuits centralized in New Jersey will undergo coordinated pretrial proceedings, thus eliminating duplicative discovery and reducing the potential for conflicting rulings from various courts.

Eventually, the Court will choose a small number of representative valsartan lawsuits for early bellwether trials. These trials are intended to gauge the strength of plaintiffs’ claims and could provide insight into how other juries will rule in similar cases. It’s also possible that bellwether trial verdicts could provide a path towards a global valsartan settlement.

Should the parties be unable to reach a global settlement, however, any valsartan lawsuit not resolved during the multidistrict litigation process will return to its original court of filing for trial.

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