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Third Xarelto Bellwether Trial
Last Friday a jury in Jackson, Mississippi reached a verdict in favor of defendants in the third Xarelto bellwether trial. This was the third verdict in favor of defendants in the Xarelto multidistrict litigation. Plainly, the defense has had a good year. But remember, the MDL judge and the executive committees selected 40 bellwether cases to try, not three. As I tell my daughter when she comes home after the third day of school and announces she doesn’t like her teacher: “It’s too soon to have an opinion. Give it more time.”

Let’s take a look:

Third Xarelto Bellwether Trial  

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I received the following message from a plaintiff in one of the metal-on-metal artificial hip MDLs. I am very grateful for the note and thought I would share it:

entrepreneur-593378_1280-300x200Plaintiffs in metal-on-metal hip (MoM) cases around the country owe thanks to Clay Hodges for his tireless advocacy on their behalf.  Early on, Clay posted an on-line brochure that served as a virtual guidebook for explaining the nature of the cases on how both attorneys and plaintiffs should think about it.  Since then, his articles and posts have provided timely and accurate updates about the litigation when often it was difficult to get reliable news for other sources. And he has done this not just for his clients but all MoM plaintiffs who have agonized to understand this case and what options they might have.   For all of us, he has provided far more than just information, but a genuine sense that someone really cares and is in our corner.

G.S.

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Arthritis Drug Actemra Many things in life involve a cost benefit analysis. We’re constantly taking risks that can cause harm, but choose to take on that risk because the benefits outweigh the dangers. A good example of this is driving a car. There is a risk of getting into an accident, but the benefit of having on-demand personal transportation is easily worth it.

Prescription medications are no different. Each one is intended to provide a benefit, although each will always have at least some side effects or adverse reactions. The question is never, “does the drug have a side effect or adverse reaction?” Rather, it’s “how many side effects and adverse reactions are there and how bad are they?”

It’s no surprise to learn that many medications on the market today have numerous side effects and adverse reactions, some of them deadly. Yet, they’re available for use not only because the benefits may outweigh the risks for a significant number of consumers, but also because the makers of the medication are required to inform consumers of these risks. So a pharmaceutical company that fails to properly warn consumers of the risks of its drugs can get into trouble. That’s exactly the issue with Actemra. Continue reading →

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Oxycontin and the Opioid Crisis
Over the past few years, an opioid epidemic has caused horrific problems for many regions of the country. In 2015 alone, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimated that 12.5 million people misused prescription opioids, causing over 33,000 overdose deaths. In 2013, the opioid epidemic resulted in $78.5 billion in economic losses.  In response to this tragic loss of life and the economic strain placed on many state and local governments, several lawsuits have begun.

What Exactly Are Opioids?

Opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic forms of opiates (like morphine). Opiates are derived directly from the poppy plant while opioids are manufactured chemicals that are very similar to opiates.

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A few weeks ago I wrote about an Androgel testosterone case being tried in Illinois. We now have the verdict, and the result is, well, a mixed bag. Still, on balance, it must be viewed as a win for plaintiffs, and a major rebuke for companies like AbbVie, Inc. who aggressively market their prescription drugs for off-label uses. After all, at the end of trial the jury awarded the plaintiffs $150 million in punitive damages for fraudulent misrepresentation.

Androgel testosterone trial
Just to recap, Androgel is a roll-on testosterone product. Jesse Mitchell began taking Androgel in 2007 after doctors ran blood tests and found that Mitchell’s testosterone levels were quite low. In 2012, at the age of 49, Jesse Mitchell had a massive heart attack. From what I’ve read, the heart attack almost killed him.

Mitchell and his wife sued AbbVie in 2014, claiming the company marketed and sold Androgel without properly warning men about the increased risk for heart attacks. During the trial an expert for the Mitchells testified that in his opinion there was a connection between Mitchell’s 2012 heart attack and his extended use of Androgel.

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Surgeon placing hernia mesh in the inguinal region during open hernia repair.
Clients are all different. Some call me with an injury caused by a medical device or drug and say, essentially, “figure it out.” I have no problem with a client taking this position. Others keep detailed notes and meticulous records and send me a package of documents that can be several inches thick. I never expect a client to do this initial “leg work,” but it can often jump start a case against the device or drug manufacturer. If you are inclined to be more involved in the process, at least early on, I have noted some important tasks below you can accomplish to launch your hernia mesh case.

Let’s start with two obvious assumptions: (1) you had hernia mesh implanted in your body in the past, and (2) you have suffered injury because of the hernia mesh. Where do you go from there?

Identify Your Product

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Type 2 Diabetes and OnglyzaWith the rise of Type 2 diabetes in the United States, drug makers have attempted to meet the demand for treatments to lower blood sugar levels in patients. A variety of drugs such as saxagliptin, alogliptin, linagliptin, sitagliptin, exenatide and liraglutide were developed to help patients treat their Type 2 diabetes. Several of these drugs have resulted in unexpected problems. One specific drug in particular is saxagliptin, which goes by the trade name “Onglyza.”

What Is Onglyza?

Onglyza was co-developed by Bristol-Meyers Squibb and AstraZeneca and is a DPP-4 inhibitor. It works by increasing the levels of incretin (a type of hormone) in the body. Incretins lower blood glucose levels by reducing the amount of sugar the liver makes and increasing the amount of insulin released by the pancreas.

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An important trial is taking place over testosterone in Illinois. As part of the testosterone prescription multidistrict litigation, manufacturer AbbVie, Inc. is defending itself against claims that Androgel, a roll-on testosterone product, caused the heart attack of Jesse Mitchell in 2012 after years of taking the prescription medication. Let’s take a look at that case:

Mitchell v. AbbVie Inc. (1:14-cv-09178) 

AbbVie's Androgel TestosteroneIn 2007 Jesse Mitchell visited his doctor complaining of a constellation of symptoms, including fatigue and depression. He was 44. The doctor ran tests and discovered Mr. Mitchell’s testosterone levels were quite low, and prescribed Androgel, an easy-to-use roll-on testosterone product manufactured and (aggressively) marketed by AbbVie, Inc. Mitchell applied the roll-on testosterone to his upper body for several years. In 2012, at the age of 49, he had a massive heart attack. From trial and media reports, the heart attack permanently damaged his heart and almost killed him.

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SGLT2 Inhibitor Diabetes Drugs
Originally touted as a wonder drug, a new class of medications based on SGLT2 inhibitors promised to help those suffering from Type 2 diabetes by increasing their ability to lower and control their blood sugar, while also lowering body weight and blood pressure. Pharmaceutical companies were hoping that these new products could potentially become blockbuster drugs. Invokana and Farxiga are two examples of SGLT2 inhibitors.

But just a few years after the release of these drugs in the United States, the drug companies started facing stiff competition among themselves. Additionally, the public learned of the serious risks of taking SGLT2 inhibitors. The purpose of this blog post is to provide a quick overview of SGLT2 inhibitor drugs and the status of their litigation.

What Is a SGLT2 Inhibitor?

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Last week I wrote a timeline on the key events surrounding the failure of the Depuy ASR artificial hip. Today I want to take a similar look at the Depuy Pinnacle artificial hip. The Pinnacle was supposed to be the ASR’s more active and athletic brother. But it didn’t turn out that way.

1995: Study on Metal-on-Metal Hips Released

Study on Metal on Metal Artificial Hips
For all metal-on-metal artificial hips, we have to start with the central question: what did the manufacturer know, and when did the manufacturer know it? In 1995, Dr. Graham Isaac released a short paper discussing the problems with metal-on-metal (MoM) artificial hips. Dr. Isaac explained that the performance of MoM hip implants was “unpredictable,” that the hips may work well for some time “before suffering catastrophic breakdown . . . accompanied by a release of a large volume of debris.” This paper and Depuy’s other internal documents suggest that Depuy Orthopaedics should have known about the metal-on-metal risk factors in 1995. In fact, one doctor noted that Depuy needed “to be cautious of the legal/litigation issues and lawyers, etc…perception of metal debris and metal-ion release.” That’s not good.