Jon Campisi Oct. 9, 2013, 12:08pm


The federal judge who is overseeing the Avandia Marketing, Sales Practices

and Products Liability Litigation in Philadelphia has scheduled a status conference in the multidistrict case for later this year.

U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe, who sits in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, filed a pretrial order on Oct. 7 setting Dec. 6 as the date when all lawyers who have cases pending in the MDL will be required to appear at the James A. Byrne federal courthouse in downtown Philadelphia.

The agenda for the status conference will include a discussion of all outstanding motions in the consolidated litigation, as well as the status of discovery in trial pool cases and in actions that were recently transferred from other jurisdictions across the country.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys with issues they would like to have addressed during the proceeding are asked to contact the coordinating lawyer, Paul Kiesel, at least two weeks before the gathering in Rufe’s courtroom.

Kiesel and the counsel representing the defendant, global drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, were ordered by the judge to submit a joint report outlining proposed agenda items, including a brief statement of the issues involved in the litigation and the positions of the parties with respect to each item, one week before the status hearing.

The Avandia MDL was created by order of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in the fall of 2007.

Lawsuits that have been consolidated under the MDL contain common allegations that the diabetes drug Avandia, and its sister pharmaceuticals, Avandamet and Avandaryl, cause an increased in the risk of heart attack and other physical injuries in patients who took the drug, and that the manufacturer failed to adequately warn consumers and physicians of those increased risks.

According to the website DrugWatch.com, more than 50,000 Avandia lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts across the nation.

Since the creation of the products liability MDL six years ago, more than 4,500 cases have been transferred to U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the site reported.

The first set of Avandia trials reportedly began in January 2011.

The website went on to report that during the first round of settlements in the spring of 2010, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to pay about $60 million to settle more than 700 claims.

Later that same year, the drug company agreed to a $460 million settlement resolving about 10,000 cases.

In early 2011, as the first wave of federal Avandia trials were getting underway in Philadelphia, the defendant said it would pay $250 million to settle 5,500 Avandia cases filed on behalf of people who died, after succumbing to injuries they claim were caused by their ingestion of the drug.

Rufe, the federal judge assigned to the MDL, appointed a mediator to help resolve many of the cases remaining on the docket, according to the website.

In early 2012, Rufe said the court was satisfied with the progress of the settlements and would begin to focus on resolving the cases that remained in litigation.

The website reported that to date, an estimated 50,000 Avandia claims have been settled out of court.

New cases, however, continue to be filed on a regular basis.

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