Lawyers representing plaintiffs in the federal valsartan litigation claim drug makers have failed to properly preserve recalled pills, potentially destroying evidence vital to their claims.
Nearly 200 lawsuits involving allegedly contaminated valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan medications are currently pending in the multidistrict litigation underway in the U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey.
About half of the docket consists of individual personal injury claims alleging the ingestion of recalled tablets caused plaintiffs or their loved ones to develop various cancers, including liver cancer, stomach cancer, small intestine cancer, esophageal cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer. The remaining class action lawsuits seek compensation for consumers who allegedly purchased recalled drugs.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys accused the various defendants of failing to correctly preserve recalled valsartan, losartan, and irbesartan tablets in a letter to the Court dated January 14th.
“The full extent of this potential spoliation issue is not yet known, and Plaintiffs request a complete accounting of all pills returned or held due to nitrosamine contamination (actual or potential), and what has been done with those pills,” the Valsartan Lawyers write. “This is critical for the Plaintiffs and the Court to assess the extent and merits of the issue.”
The letter asks that the Court issue a new order reiterating the defendants’ responsibility to preserve contaminated and potentially contaminated pills.
In a response filed with the Court that same day, defendants asserted the plaintiffs’ preservation requests would require that they violate federal law, as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) imposes strict rules on the retrieval of recalled products and what should happen with the pills.
Plaintiffs attorneys denied this assertion, and pointed out that courts routinely require stays of mandated government programs to prevent the destruction of evidence.
The matter will likely be addresse during the litigation’s January 28th Status Conference.
Numerous generic drug makers around the world began recalling valsartan, irbesartan, and losartan-containing heart and blood pressure drugs in July 2018, when the first of three potentially cancer-causing nitrosamines was discovered in active ingredient manufactured by suppliers in China and India.
Nitrosamines occur in cured meats and are often a byproduct of manufacturing processes. The compounds are considered probable human carcinogens and have been linked to an increased risk of gastrointestinal, liver, and kidney tumors.
The FDA believes contaminated heart and blood pressure medications resulted from a change in production methods instituted by overseas manufacturers roughly four years before the first valsartan recall. Thus, it’s likely that potentially carcinogenic medications had already been on the market for at least four years before the nitrosamine contamination was finally detected.