Core discovery has begun in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey, where all product liability lawsuits related to ongoing recalls of generic valsartan medications were recently centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings
According to an Order dated April 29th, valsartan recall defendants must produce the various core discovery materials outlined in the Order by June 17, 2019. At this time, core discovery is limited to valsartan medications, and does not include any materials related to losartan or irbesartan products affected by the worldwide generic drug recalls.
Any valsartan recall defendants that will not be producing some or all of the required materials on the grounds that they were improperly served must inform the Court of their intention by May 27th.
The Court expects to finalize the terms of a Discovery Confidentiality Order at the litigation’s next telephonic Status Conference, which is scheduled for May 8th at 3:00 p.m.
During an in-person conference on May 29th, the Court will likely finalize the parties’ Profile Forms and Short Form Complaints, as well as an Order regarding the parties’ group organization and leadership.
The valsartan recalls began last year, after cancer-causing nitrosamines was discovered in active pharmaceuticals ingredients manufactured by Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. While the compounds were subsequently found in ingredients supplied by other manufacturers, the highest levels of carcinogens were detected in the Chinese company’s products.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) believes the contamination issue originated in 2014, when Zhejiang Pharmaceuticals altered its production methods. As such, contaminated valsartan tablets were likely in circulation for more than four years.
Nitrosamines occur in bacon and other cured meats, and have long been considered known carcinogens. Research has linked the compounds to gastrointestinal tract cancers, including colon cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer. Other studies suggest nitrosamines may cause liver cancer, kidney cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
The recalls are ongoing, and the FDA continues to update its lists of affected valsartan, losartan and irbesartan products. Any patient with a recalled medication in their possession should contact their doctor or pharmacy for a replacement. However, they should not stop taking their medicine until they have obtained a replacement drug, as doing so could cause dangerous heart or blood pressure events.
There are roughly 50 valsartan lawsuits pending in the federal litigation underway in New Jersey. The majority are personal injury claims filed on behalf of patients who allegedly developed cancer after ingesting tainted tablets. The remaining consist of class actions that seek economic damages for consumers’ valsartan purchases.
Last month, plaintiffs’ attorneys informed the Court that they expected to file thousands of additional cases within the next two years. The proceeding already involves over 40 valsartan recall defendants, including Zehjiang Huahai, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Mylan NV, and CVS Health Co.