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Panel may transfer nearly 100 Lipitor lawsuits

Nearly 100 diabetic plaintiffs in Lipitor lawsuits, more than 80 of which from the federal Central District of California, will find out in June whether their cases will be adjudicated in the courts in which those lawsuits were filed. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation will rule after its May 29 hearing in Chicago on whether plaintiffs' opposition to transferring these Lipitor lawsuits is just.

If plaintiffs lose, their cases will be transferred to a central court that will oversee pretrial proceedings for a cluster of similar cases. That multidistrict litigation court is the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, where, as of April 15, 464 Lipitor lawsuits were already centralized.

The defendant is Pfizer, the manufacturer of the cholesterol-lowering drug. Plaintiffs claim, according to court documents, that "the defendant manufactured, marketed, distributed, supplied, promoted and/or sold Lipitor, which is defective and unreasonably dangerous in that it causes diabetes."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated Lipitor's label in 2012 to reflect the increased risk of new-onset diabetes associated with the use of the drug. That regulatory move came about 16 years since Pfizer began marketing the blockbuster moneymaker.

The FDA issued a statement in 2012, a part of which read that the agency had been "aware of studies showing that patients being treated with statins may have a small increased risk of increased blood sugar levels and of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus."

Atorvastatin is generic Lipitor. In one study of new users of so-called "statin" drugs conducted in Canada from 1997 to 2010, "treatment with higher potency statins, especially atorvastatin and simvastatin, might be associated with an increased risk of new onset diabetes." Generic Lipitor had the highest hazard ratio.

Someone who was diagnosed with new-onset diabetes after using Lipitor may be entitled to compensation. One way in which a patient can find out is to contact one of the experienced attorneys at Reich & Binstock. Reich & Binstock, which operates in all 50 states, has a proven track record of successful outcomes in product liability litigation against pharmaceutical corporations.

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