Plaintiffs suing over Allergan Inc.’s recently recalled Biocell textured breast implants are seeking to have their claims centralized in a single federal court.
According to a motion filed with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on October 3rd, at least five class action lawsuits involving Biocell breast implants are pending in courts around the United States. However, plaintiffs assert that because the litigation involves potentially thousands of women exhibiting symptoms of Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, centralization of Allergan breast implant lawsuits “would serve the convenience of parties and witnesses and promote the just and efficient conduct of the related actions.”
Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma, or BIA-ALCL, is a rare form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that has been linked to textured breast implants. Allergan announced a worldwide recall for Biocell textured implants and tissue expanders in July, after a U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) review found they were the most frequently cited devices in cases of breast implant cancer.
“Of the 573 known cases of BIA-ALCL, about 84 percent of them were attributed to Allergan’s products, including 12 of the 13 deaths for which the implant manufacturer was known,” the October 3rd motion notes. “The FDA reported that the risk of developing BIA-ALCL was six times higher with Allergan’s BIOCELL products than textured implants from other manufacturers.”
All of the Allergan breast implant lawsuits claim that the company was aware of the link between Biocell textured devices and BIA-ALCL from performing extensive decades-long clinical studies, reviewing scientific studies and literature, FDA communications, government reports, and from complaints from consumers, among other sources. Yet this information was never disclosed to doctors or patients.
Plaintiffs further note that, despite the Biocell breast implant recall, Allergan has not agreed to pay for removal surgery and associated medical expenses, or to cover the expenses associated with ongoing medical monitoring.
Centralization would allow all federally-filed Allergan breast implant lawsuits to undergo coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings. In most multidistrict litigations, a representative number of claims are chosen for early bellwether trials. These trials act as test cases, and their verdicts generally provide insight into how other juries might decide similar lawsuits. Sometimes, bellwether trial verdicts even provide a path towards settling an entire litigation.
BIA-ALCL is a slow-growing cancer that first occurs in the scar tissue that develops around breast implants. Symptoms typically include:
This cancer is highly treatable IF DETECTED EARLY. Treatment generally includes removal of the breast implants and surrounding tissue. However, if the cancer has spread beyond the scar capsule, chemo and radiation may also be necessary.
Roughly 93% of patients who undergo treatment for breast implant lymphoma remain disease free three years later. When deaths have occurred, diagnosis and treatment were delayed an average of two years after symptoms first appeared.
According to the FDA, women not experiencing symptoms of BIA-ALCL do not need to have their Allergan breast implants removed. However, all breast implant patients should continue regular follow-up care and report any changes to their doctor immediately, especially persistent pain or swelling in their breast.