Injury lawsuits filed over type 2 diabetes drugs Invokana and Invokament have been consolidated in the US District Court of New Jersey.
By Laurence Banville
On December 7, 2016, the US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued a new Transfer Order, sending 55 personal injury lawsuits filed over diabetes drugs Invokana and Invokamet to be centralized in the US District Court of New Jersey. In Trenton, the cases will be consolidated as a Multi-District Litigation for coordinated pre-trial proceedings. As of January 5, 2017, 44 additional Invokana or Invokamet lawsuits had also been transferred to the US District Court of New Jersey, bringing the total of consolidated cases to 79.
An initial case management conference has been scheduled for January 12, 2017 at 10:30 am.
Patients Say Invokana Causes Ketoacidosis, Kidney FailureInvokana and Invokamet belong to a class of "new generation" diabetes drugs known as SGLT2 inhibitors. Both products are manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. SGLT2 inhibitors, which force the kidneys to excrete excess blood sugar in a patient's urine, are approved to treat cases of type 2 diabetes.
While the medications were quickly hailed as a revolution in diabetes care, SGLT2 inhibitors have been linked to several severe forms of patient injury. In 2015, the US Food & Drug Administration warned patients and healthcare professionals that SGLT2 inhibitors, including the active ingredient in both Invokana and Invokamet, a chemical called canagliflozin, may cause ketoacidosis. The potentially-fatal side effect involves elevated levels of blood acid. In a second safety alert, published June 14, 2016, the FDA announced that the SGLT2 inhibitors Invokana, Invokamet, Farxiga and Xigduo XR had been associated with an increased risk for acute kidney injuries. Most of the newly-consolidated Invokana lawsuits accuse Janssen Pharmaceuticals of failing to warn the public about these risks.
Other SGLT2 inhibitors, including Farxiga and Jardiance, have also been implicated in causing severe patient injuries, but the JPML does not feel that it would be appropriate to consolidate cases involving multiple medications manufactured by separate companies in a single Multi-District Litigation.
How Multi-District Litigation WorksMulti-District Litigation (MDL) is a frequently-used legal mechanism that brings multiple separate lawsuits under the jurisdiction of a single federal court. To preserve judicial resources and eliminate the possibility for inconsistent rulings, a multitude of individual cases are presided over by one judge. As part of an MDL, the cases proceed through pre-trial proceedings, including the all-important evidence gathering stage of discovery, as a group.
The Honorable Brain R. Martinotti has been selected to guide the Invokana litigation toward successful resolution. Between 2002 and 2016, Judge Martinotti served as a Judge for the Superior Court of New Jersey, where he presided over multi-county litigations, a variant of Multi-District Litigation used to streamline mass tort cases in state courts.
New Jersey's federal district court is already home to several other notable Multi-District Litigations. More than 120 lawsuits filed over the link between Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder products and ovarian cancer have been consolidated in the jurisdiction, as have over 300 injury cases involving the blood thinner Plavix. Johnson & Johnson, one of the world's largest healthcare conglomerates, is headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey.