Dozens of valsartan lawsuits that blame allegedly tainted drugs for causing cancer are moving forward in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
According to a Case Management Order dated August 20th, the Court has approved the use of a Short-Form Complaint, which will promote judicial efficiency by streamlining the process for filing new valsartan lawsuits and standardize the way information is gathered in the litigation.
The Short-Form Complaint lists all allegations included on the proceeding’s Master Complaint, allowing plaintiffs to select those specific to their individual valsartan lawsuit. They must also choose among 50 companies, including generic drug manufacturers, distributors, repackagers, labelers, pharmacies, and wholesalers, that were involved in the sale of tainted valsartan and are now named as defendants in the federal litigation.
The Court has directed all plaintiffs with pending valsartan cancer claims to submit a completed Short-Form Complaint within 30 days of the date of the order. Plaintiffs with newly transferred lawsuits must do so within 30 days of the transfer.
Valsartan was the first of multiple generic heart failure and blood pressure drugs recalled last summer, after NDMA was discovered in active pharmaceutical ingredients manufactured by China-based Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co. The cancer-causing nitrosamine is found in bacon and other cured meats, and has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer, stomach cancer, and esophageal cancer. Some studies have also suggested that NDMA is associated with liver cancer, kidney cancer, and pancreatic cancer.
Several other carcinogenic nitrosamines have since been detected in valsartan ingredients sourced from overseas suppliers, as well as ingredients used to manufacture losartan and irbesartan tablets.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) believes the contaminated ingredients resulted from a change in production method instituted by Zhejiang Huahai and other manufacturers roughly four years before the first valsartan recall. Thus, it’s likely that contaminated medications were in circulation for at least four years.
About 60 cases are currently undergoing coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings before a single judge in the District of New Jersey. Roughly half of the lawsuits assert valsartan cancer claims on behalf of individuals who allegedly ingested tainted drugs. The remaining are class action lawsuits that seek economic damages for consumers who purchased recalled medications.
Earlier this year, a plaintiffs’ attorney told Bloomberg News that 1.8 million Americans had taken adulterated drugs and suggested that his firm could file at least 2,000 valsartan cancer lawsuits within the next two years. A lawyer for MSP Recovery, a Florida-based service representing health insurance companies that covered 73,311 valsartan patients prior to the recalls, estimated those claims totaled more than $91 million.