In December 2011, we reported on the failed attempt by the manufacturer to get the Plavix lawsuits combined into a type of class action (Accident and Injury Lawyer Blog: No Class Action for Plavix).
Sidenote: it’s not actually a class action, but something called multidistrict litigation (MDL). In an MDL, all federal cases are combined and brought together before one judge somewhere in the country. That judge manages the cases and helps the parties to efficiently conduct discovery, leading ideally to a few test trials and then eventual mass settlements. That’s too hard to say, so we sometimes just call it a class action.
The judges decided to let the Plavix cases remain as they were – individual cases. Their reasoning was simply that the bulk of cases had been continuing on very efficiently–most of them were in New Jersey federal court. The other reason is that there were not that many cases, and the lawyers were effectively managing them despite MDL centralization.
The Plavix cases typically allege that the blood thinner, which is supposed to prevent stroke and heart attack in some patients, actually increases the risks for stroke and heart attack in patients who can’t properly metabolize the drug (about 14% of patients). The FDA mandated a black box warning be added in March, 2010.
One thing Brisol knew was that a study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that Plavix plus aspirin is only minimally more effective than aspirin plus placebo at preventing atherothrombotic events. So there was not a ton of upside. But the study also showed that for no greater benefit, there was a lot of risks: in patients who do not have peripheral arterial disease or acute coronary syndrome, Plavix plus aspirin led to a 20% increased risk of suffering bleeding injuries, heart attacks, and stroke and death.
In late October, the defendant manufacturer filed a new motion asking the judges to reconsider. The plaintiff’s, representing the victims, opposed consolidation in what is certainly a role reversal–typically, the plaintiffs seek centralization while the defendants oppose it. Here, the plaintiffs opposed for all the right reasons–the cases were far enough along that grouping them together would simply operate to delay justice for those who have been in litigation. About a year ago there were 12 cases, with 10 sitting before the same judge in New Jersey. Those cases were filed around 2006 and 2007. Now there are approximately 30 total Plavix cases, though not all of those will be eligible for consolidation because some are state court cases (only federal court cases get grouped together).
The judges will hear those arguments in January 2013. We expect that the court will deny the motion once again.
If you have a Plavix claim and want to talk about it, call 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line case consultation here.