The federal court overseeing dozens of valsartan lawsuits has approved a new order allowing plaintiffs to file cases directly in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
Direct filing will eliminates delays associated with transferring a cases to the multidistrict litigation from another federal court. According to the April 9th Order, the defendants’ obligation to answer, move, or otherwise respond to a directly filed valsartan lawsuits is stayed pending further order from the Court. The defendants have also preserved all objections and affirmative defenses.
The valsartan recall began last July, after the first of three cancer-causing nitrosamines was detected in active ingredients manufactured by two overseas suppliers. The recall eventually expanded to losartan and irbesartan drugs manufactured by dozens of generic drug makers in the United States and 22 other countries.
Nitrosamines can cause cancer in animals, which suggests that they may be carcinogenic in humans. Some research suggests these compounds may cause cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, including colon cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer. Other studies have linked nitrosamines to liver cancer, kidney cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) believes that contaminated sartans were in circulation for at least four years. Patients who use generic versions should periodically check the agency’s regularly-updated lists of recalled valsartan, losartan and irbesartan products to ensure their medication hasn’t been recalled.
At least 70 valsartan lawsuits are now pending the multidistrict litigation underway in New Jersey federal court. The proceeding includes individual personal injury claims alleging the ingestion of contaminated drugs caused various cancers, as well as class action complaints that seek economic damages related to the purchase of recalled medications.
While the litigation does not include any claims involving recalled irbesartan and losartan drugs, that could change in the future.
These pending valsartan lawsuits, as well as any filed in the future, will undergo coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings. The Court will eventually choose a small number of representative cases for early bellwether trials. Such trials test the strength of plaintiffs’ claims and often provide insight into how other juries will rule in similar lawsuits. It’s also possible that bellwether trial verdicts could provide a path towards a global valsartan settlement.
If a global settlement is not possible, the Court will remand all unresolved valsartan lawsuits to the appropriate U.S. District Court for further proceedings and trial.